Trend 7: Green Elements That Consumers Understand and Want

"Our industry is figuring out that green in some form isn’t an option any more," says McCune. "It’s simply mandatory." And the emphasis is on energy-saving features that directly impact operating costs. Technology is also becoming an increasingly important player as iPhones and iPads provide a portable remote control capable of operating everything from lighting to the garage door.

Trend 8: Higher-Density Development

While land development for traditional subdivisions has slowed, infill is red hot, especially for multifamily and senior-focused housing. By increasing unit counts in smaller areas, communities are better able to support amenities typical of larger projects, such as retail services and public transportation. Because parking ratios are a sore spot for multifamily projects, a growing emphasis on orienting along public transit lines is encouraging residents to feel like a personal vehicle is redundant. And "don’t ignore the roof," says McCune, pointing to low-cost projects that have been able to turn rooftops into the focal point of the community by offering rooftop gardens and city views.

Claire Easley is a senior editor at Builder.