Home Buyers Opt for Upscale Smaller Homes
Given the choice of more space or higher quality features, new home buyers are overwhelmingly opting for the latter, according to the latest survey data from NAHB.
When asked to choose between a bigger house with fewer amenities or a smaller house with high-quality products and amenities, 63% of the home owners surveyed by NAHB favored downsizing to the home with the bells and whistles. To pay for the residential accoutrements of upscale living, 57% said that they preferred having them included in the base price of the home; 43% wanted them to be offered as options at extra cost.
“One particular consumer trend stands out: While homes do not appear to be getting bigger, they are definitely getting better. There is a marked increase in quality, with updated features and amenities,” said Jerry Howard, executive vice president and CEO of NAHB.
The households who were surveyed indicated enthusiasm for just about every upscale feature available, Howard said, but made more realistic decisions when they were asked to choose from among alternatives.
Among several other observations on what people desire in their new homes:
- The top kitchen features home owners want are a walk-in pantry (84%), island work area (77%), special-use storage (62%) and built-in microwave (62%).
- Thirty-seven percent said they wanted their kitchens visually open to the family room, with a half wall; 34% want the wall to come down, leaving the two rooms completely open.
- At the top of the list of most-sought-after bathroom features were a linen closet (91%), exhaust fan (88%) and separate shower enclosure (78%).
- Nine-feet is now the standard height in ceilings, up from 8 feet previously. “Consumers say it provides more openness, more light and makes the home feel bigger,” said Howard.
- Younger households prefer their washer and dryer to be located near the bedroom; older households prefer them near the kitchen.
- Brick was preferred by 44%of respondents as the front exterior wall material for their homes.
- Asked to choose between more space in the master bedroom and less in the master bath or the opposite, 69% chose more bedroom space. “Some of the master baths have been getting bigger than the bedrooms themselves,” Howard said.
After growing steadily since 1970, the average size of a new home has leveled off over the past three years and stood at 2,340 square feet last year. This is close to the 2,426 square feet that home owners said they would like to have, according to Howard.
Looking at trends for the next five years, he predicted growing popularity for low-maintenance, natural materials; synthetic stucco; energy efficiency; and security on the outside of the home.
Inside, the popularity of open space, quality features, technology and special purpose rooms is on the upswing.
An emerging trend in the higher end market is the advent of a “flex” or “bonus” room situated above three-car garages.
“These rooms can be more than 1,000 square feet and include a full-bath. We are finding that home owners are using them for a variety of purposes — as an in-law suite, a guest room, home office or media room,” said Howard.
Give Your Customers What They Want
“What 21st Century Home Buyers Want,” available through BuilderBooks.com, offers insight into features that today’s home buyers want. It examines the design features, products, amenities and layouts that buyers would want in their new homes. To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.
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