The modern world has witnessed a tremendous rise in one-person households over the past century, starting from early-industrialized countries. In 2010, 31 million one-person households accounted for 27% of all households in the United States (U.S.), marking a 13% rise in 1960. This phenomenon is not only happening in the U.S. In some cities across the world, the majority of adults already live alone. It is not an exaggeration to say that the society of today is experiencing social disconnection, which could lead to negative impacts on their mental, emotional, and even physical health, especially among older adults. Developments in the real estate sector play a significant role in this shifting demographic.
Maine-based real estate developer Cottage Advisors ME aims to bring back the 1950s era of tight-knit communities where residents can wave to each other from their front porches and easily organize spontaneous get-togethers, nurturing community spirit not only among homeowners but also the local builders who help construct the homes. Howard John Hall, the manager and founder of Cottage Advisors, established the company in 2005 after serving as a principal in multiple development companies throughout New England since the middle of the 1980s.
Howard’s mission was to utilize his extensive knowledge and experience as a real estate attorney and developer to combine building quality homes, offering unique lifestyles, preserving the natural beauty of sites, and fostering social connections in the communities he develops. Howard "Chip" Hall joined his father, Howard, in this venture in 2007, applying his expertise in structuring and closing over a hundred million dollars in business while working in the tech industry for over two decades. Chip, embracing his father’s vision, assumed control of the company’s daily operations in 2015 and gained full ownership five years later.
Cottage Advisors showcases its commitment to fostering social connection and community bonds in modern real estate by developing unique, open-space cluster neighborhoods with cottage-style homes, welcoming front porches, expansive outdoor gathering areas, and vast open spaces. Chip exclaimed, "All of our units have front porches. We try to build them as reasonably close to the road as possible to encourage community interaction. One of the things we've found out over time is that when you have a welcoming front porch, you can have impromptu get-togethers. There's no need for detailed planning, and you don't have to worry about unwashed dishes on the sink or cluttered shoes in the living area because no one's going inside your house. You'll all spend time on the front porch."
The leading real estate company acknowledges the fundamental impact of house structure, layout, and design in fostering social interaction and community spirit within neighborhoods. Chip remarked, “Many people ask me what makes a cottage a cottage, and I answer that architecturally, every cottage has a porch, and although they look modest from the street, they live large inside. We incorporated concepts of new urbanism and cluster development.”
The Halls, upon recognizing an emerging trend called "right-sizing," embraced it and merged it with their community-centric approach to building residential homes. Right-sizing is a response to the growing need of modern homeowners for more easily managed and energy-efficient homes. This approach is not only beneficial to the residents. It also has a positive impact on the environment as it contributes to the company's energy conservation efforts.
Aside from positive environmental impact and value for money, what Cottage Advisors ultimately prides itself in is its unrelenting commitment to ensuring that the communities it builds are founded in interaction, collaboration, shared responsibility, and a sense of belonging. One of Cottage Advisors’ current development projects is a 55+ condominium community called the Cottages at Winding Ridge in Gorham, Maine. Chip shared, "Older people who no longer live with their children tend to have smaller social circles because they don't have many opportunities to meet new people. They might go to church or join a Rotary club or charitable organizations. But all of that was disrupted due to COVID. We designed our communities with a cottage concept with urban-style layouts in the mix. Joining a Cottage Advisor neighborhood means moving into a community where everybody wishes to interact, and that makes all the difference."
Living in communities like what Cottage Advisors offers also instills a sense of security among residents. For instance, more and more single, divorced, or widowed women join 55+ communities. "Having cottages located close to each other while still having privacy is comforting to many residents compared to living in a rural setting or a sub-division where homes are seated more than a hundred feet away from the road," Chip added.
In essence, Cottage Advisors gives homeowners more opportunities to grow their social network, feeling assured in the company of a community with each other's best interests at heart. When asked what makes building communities one cottage at a time fulfilling, Chip answered, “When we do interviews or surveys with our buyers, they always say that ‘we bought from you because we love the cottages. But now that we live here, we can say it’s the community we loved most,’ and that’s what keeps us wanting to build more engaged communities.”
Name: Howard Hall
Email: [email protected]