One of the ways you can tell that a product is dated or out-of-fashion ” or people think it is ” is that it acquires an adjective.

So, for a while, “Coke” became “New Coke.”

contempIn the wake of Watergate in the 1970’s, Minnesota’s Republican party became the “Independent — Republican” party (at least until Ronald Reagan became President).

In the same vein, while I see plenty of homes locally billed as “soft Contemporaries,” it’s less common to see just the term “Contemporary.”

“Hard” vs. “Soft”

Is there a difference?

Actually, there is.

As the name suggests, the lines in a “soft” Contemporary are a little less perpendicular (“severe?” “stark?”); softthe interior spaces a little more welcoming; and there’s more use of “warm” materials  like hardwood vs. “cooler” steel, marble, etc. (recessed or passive lighting and oversized, custom glass windows ” and lots of them ” remain a staple of both styles).

I don’t know that there’s a bright line separating “soft” and “hard” Contemporaries, but in general . . . I know it when I see it.

Twin Cities Trends

Locally, I think it’s fair to say that “Contemporary” has fallen out of favor as a new construction choice (most popular: what I’ll call “nouveau Arts-and-Crafts,” below right).

arts_craftsThe conspicuous exception to that is around and near Minneapolis’ Cedar Lake, where it appears to be extremely popular.

That may come as a surprise ” at least to people (including Realtors) who don’t know the area ” because many of the newly-built Contemporaries were commissioned by/for existing clients.

As a result, they’ve never been exposed to the market.

By contrast, “spec” homes constructed by builders have a spotlight shone on them on MLS, the Parade of Homes, by their listing agents, etc.

Of course, it’s also true that several of the most impressive new homes are less than visible from the street, located on tucked-away or otherwise private lots.

P.S.:  Just because something has fallen out-of-fashion doesn’t mean it’s inferior.

Personally, I’m a huge fan of split-levels, which nobody seems to be building anymore.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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