Leadership

'23 And We: An Expectations Manifesto For Homebuilding

There's an expectation we could have of ourselves in 2023. That is to make a cohesive first principles project that breaks residential real estate's five chief challenges — together — into achievable steps, ones that could take four or seven years in all to complete.

Leadership

'23 And We: An Expectations Manifesto For Homebuilding

There's an expectation we could have of ourselves in 2023. That is to make a cohesive first principles project that breaks residential real estate's five chief challenges — together — into achievable steps, ones that could take four or seven years in all to complete.

January 3rd, 2023
'23 And We: An Expectations Manifesto For Homebuilding
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Hello, again, and welcome to 2023.

We learn that often we fight the last war. It makes sense too that we tend to predict yesterday's future, not tomorrow's.

We might predict, for instance, a 2023 housing landscape and horizon devoid of magic bullets that will or can seismically alter the community's chief challenges:

  • more affordable homes
  • homes that positively impact the environment
  • home and community resiliency amidst harsher natural conditions
  • reigniting talent and livelihood magnetism
  • rekindling an American Dream with homeownership in a crucial role

There may never have been nor might there ever be such magic bullets in the future. So, predicting that they will not occur in the 2023 time frame serves only to illustrate a prediction of yesterday's future rather than today's or tomorrow's.

A fruitful focus for 2023 might rather be what the industry community and its individual role players might best expect of themselves and each other.

Two halves of 2022 – one euphoric, one demoralizing – make a hole.

The best of builders and their partners have proven they're capable of digging out of worse. That doesn't mean that all or any of them yet grasp the hole's depth – now or to come. Those who will dig out mostly share one or both of two characteristics, exceptional preparation for what happens that is unplanned, or exceptional shrewdness at navigating uncharted territory.

Add up all of those who're drawing on one super power or the other, or both, and that leaves out many who'll not be around in 2024 or 2026.

What will be around will be those five glaring, chronic challenges.

What we might expect of ourselves and our partners, and our competitors, and our adjacent and interlocked interests is important in 2023. Why? Well, unless we expect more of ourselves, history and experience suggest a risk of regressing, reverting to a norm of practices and assumptions borrowed from the past.

2023, in other words, can be the down year in which we break the vicious-circle pattern of the past and rebuild off a firmer foundation that assumes scarcity as an essential state – rather than abundance. Dirt cheap resets on everything are bygone.

That default expectation – that when what goes up finally comes crashing down, rebooting the same parabolic pathway and drawing on the same set of forces resized and repriced – well, that would feel, we believe, like a lost opportunity.

The 2023 opportunity, we might instead expect of ourselves, would be to recognize, delve into, and take action related to realities that the five challenges – while entirely unto themselves as obstacles to overcome, actually share part of their nature with each other. That common ground – whether it's machine learning, nanotechnology, common data, robotics, automation, industrial engineering, design, financial wizardry, epic persuasion and inspiration – requires human brilliance, capability, and muscle to measure up to and resolve.

The five chronic challenges are like geometrical shapes that all intersect – five separate vast and deep domains whose intersection means none can be solved in isolation from the other four.

Expecting this recognition and fostering action to do something about it stands as 2023's monumental opportunity.

An expectation we could reasonably hold ourselves to for 2023 and likely well into 2024 – an acknowledged bull-by-the-horns timespan – would be to determine not to backslide, not to merely eke out the time it takes the Fed to finally reverse course in its policy to tackle inflation, not to expect a baseline cyclical restart that assumes cheap land, cheap and plentiful labor, cheap materials, and cheaper lending.

Choosing an alternate way up from the cyclical low we haven't yet hit might instead fully bake in the interdependence of the five challenges. Rather than to declare they're mutually exclusive, or to deny they're interwoven, or to accept that they must be taken separately to make any progress at all, there's another expectation we could have of ourselves in 2023.

That is to make a cohesive first principles project that breaks the five domains into achievable steps, ones that could take four or seven years in all to complete.

This would reform thinking of the community above and beyond the lash of financial and fiscal and investment pro forma timeline determinism.

The answers – we'd suggest – are in three-, and five-, and seven-year milestones that point to a wholesale capability pivot that draws resources from political will, investment opportunity, quickly evolving manufacturing platforms, and a vanguard of people "who solve hard problems" whose work won't trigger those seismic alterations to 2023, but nonetheless are the transformers who help set the bar of ambition where our expectations for progress – not panacea, and not perfection – might make this next stretch one of the best in years.

We're grateful to be with you here. Please let me know, all of you, what you expect of 2023, from yourselves, from each other, and from Uncle Sam. I can be reached directly at john@thebuildersdaily.com.

Thank you.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John McManus

John McManus

President and Founder

John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.

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John McManus

President and Founder

John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.

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