Say goodbye to old housing myths

YIT Corporation News 4.7.2016 at 8.45 a.m.

Markku Hedman2
Markku Hedman2

Home has become an increasingly important part of our identity, but the common Finnish housing ideal no longer exists. Our wishes and needs with regard to living are becoming more and more individual. This requires bold solutions from the housing market.

Many Finns still dream about a wooden red house—a common Finnish ideal—but in reality, very few of us want to live next to a potato field.

“An increasing number of Finns—both old and young, families with children and people living alone—want to live in an urban environment,” says Professor Markku Hedman from the Department of Architecture in the Tampere University of Technology.

Urban life does not mean only bustle, street cafés and experiences, but above all convenient everyday living: good public transport connections, the proximity of schools, shops and other services. According to Hedman, this is not a passing phenomenon, but a permanent change. The same development can be seen everywhere in Europe.

Action or peace and quiet?
According to the statistics, the living environment of Finns is becoming uniform. We all want to live in a large growth centre and already now more than 75% of households consist of one or two people.

“In addition, more and more of us live in apartment buildings, terraced houses or semi-detached houses, and 90% of us enjoy living there,” says Pekka Helin, who heads the development of housing at YIT.

At the same time, our wishes and needs have become increasingly individual. Families, situations in life and paths of living have become more diversified.

“We cannot make generalizations anymore by saying that families with children want to live in single-family houses close to nature,” summarises Hedman.

Changes in working life influence living as well, along with the ageing of the population. We also want housing to express our identity more strongly. This view is confirmed in a study carried out by YIT about the motives of living. According to the study, Finns can be divided into four main tribes with regard to housing. The value tribe consists of people who are very well aware of the development of the value of the residential area and the aesthetic aspects of the home. People in the nature tribe also want to have room for living and hobbies. There are two tribes, however, that are becoming increasing popular in Finland: the pit-stop tribe and the community tribe. People in the pit-stop tribe want to live in the heart of a bustling city. For them, home represents a service point which should be compact and reasonably priced, but in the middle of everything. Another growing group is the community tribe. People in this tribe value a good location close to services and support networks and the flexibility of the home.

Discarding the juxtaposition between housing types
More housing—and especially more diverse housing—is needed in growth centres. Our current housing stock cannot sufficiently meet the varied needs of people. The professor of architecture hopes that the unnecessary juxtaposition between detached houses and apartment buildings would be discarded. New apartment buildings have not been built in serial production. Hedman predicts that we will see even more quality factors that people seek from detached houses in apartment buildings, such as a customised look and privacy. Helin from YIT agrees. In the future, instead of housing type, the construction will be influenced by the qualities people find important in living.

“Finns are more aware and demanding homebuyers than before. They know what they want and what they can expect from a new or an old apartment,” says Hedman.

More and more of us value efficient use of space. According to Hedman, compact apartments are becoming increasingly popular due to the smaller family size and due to the changing financial situation and values. People want to have more money for living as well. Reasonability, ecological factors and responsibility are the key terms in living as well.

More apartments
Migration to growth centres is so extensive that it is difficult to balance the supply and demand for housing. The situation in the housing market seems, however, more positive than in past decades. Both in the Helsinki metropolitan area and in several other cities a record high number of apartments are being zoned and constructed. 

According to the professor, Finns are becoming increasingly interested in influencing the composition of their home, living environment and the whole home town. People want to define and arrange their daily life and special occasions in their home block. Events like restaurant day are a good example of this. Hedman sees active citizenship as a positive phenomenon for the development of housing as well.

“Finnish housing developers are willing to listen to the needs of people and they have the expertise required for developing new housing solutions. This has a positive effect on the renewal of the housing market.”

Further information:
Hanna Malmivaara, VP Corporate Communications, YIT Corporation, tel. +358 40 5616568, 

YIT creates sustainable cities and better living environment by developing and constructing housing, business premises, infrastructure and entire areas. We focus on providing a first-class customer experience, high quality and continuous development of our diverse expertise. Our operating area covers Finland, Russia, the Baltic countries, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland. In 2015, our revenue amounted to nearly EUR 1.7 billion, and we employ about 5,300 employees. Our share is listed on Nasdaq Helsinki.