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RISMEDIA, December 21, 2010—According to the American Heritage Dictionary, home is defined as “To the very center. To be guided to a target automatically.” In this challenging housing market, consumers still want a home as the centerpiece of a good life. Understanding their new frame of reference will allow you to help them make the dream come true.

Ask several people to define the meaning of home and you will likely get different answers: a retreat…a place to get away from a harried world…a place to gather with family and friends. For others, maybe an unemotional “Just a place to hang your hat.” But the common denominator for all is having a place to call your own.

Achieving and maintaining homeownership has become more challenging these days, but the underlying reason to want it remains the same: we want a place where our lives and everyday experiences can unfold and a space to inhabit with the people and things that mean the most to us. But in today’s market, it takes more than square footage and granite countertops to motivate buyers. It takes connecting with them where they are—emotionally, financially and practically.

Periods of economic downturn offer a chance to step back and reevaluate the what was vs. the what is and look for new ways to work with clients. Necessity is the mother and reality the father of discovering and creatively thinking through what it takes to be relevant to buyers and sellers alike. Consumers are reprioritizing and are focusing on what really matters to them. Home as an investment has taken a back seat to livability, the new, more practical motivator.

Finding a home that’s not too big, not too small, but “just right” for them is not just a Goldilocks’ request; it’s what people are seeking. Flexible floor plans or suggestions for using typical spaces in atypical ways allow buyers to plug their lifestyle right into a home and imagine the possibilities beyond what’s there: I

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