What Home Buyers Want

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In this time of exploding technologies, the options available to new home buyers are virtually endless and quite sophisticated. From T-1 lines for high-speed Internet access to whole-house energy management systems—it’s all here, and then some.

April 01, 2001

 

NAHB President Bruce Smith

 

In this time of exploding technologies, the options available to new home buyers are virtually endless and quite sophisticated. From T-1 lines for high-speed Internet access to whole-house energy management systems—it’s all here, and then some.

But let’s face it—most home buyers are not operating with an unlimited budget. So what are their priorities? Seeking to determine just that, NAHB recently surveyed 1200 households that either purchased a new home in the last two years or are planning to do so within the next two years. Findings of our effort, called “What the 21st Century Home Buyer Wants,” were unveiled at the International Builders’ Show this February. Here are a few of the highlights.

While new gadgetry is certainly important, comfort is still king. People want lots of space—as much of it as they can afford—when it comes to bathrooms, kitchens, entry foyers, garages and, overall, number of bedrooms. Nearly 40 percent indicated a preference for at least four bedrooms; about half would be content with just three.

The importance of spaciousness in a home carries over even to ceiling height, with two-thirds of respondents preferring nine-foot or higher ceilings on the first floor and nearly 40 percent favoring high ceilings on the second floor. Also in the comfort zone, nearly 60 percent would like a whirlpool tub, 54 percent want a den and a large number like the idea of a central music system.

One place buyers are willing to sacrifice space is the living room. About 40 percent of those surveyed said they’d be willing to buy a home without a living room, but to counter that loss, they’d prefer a larger family room. In terms of overall living space, the desired home size among our consumer sample was just over 2000 square feet.

Today’s buyers are also focused on the most practical aspects of their homes. Highly rated items in the kitchen include walk-in pantries —which 78 percent say are desirable—and islands, with 71 percent approval. In the bathroom, 88 percent want a linen closet. Additionally, more than half the respondents said they’d be willing to accept a home with “unfinished spaces that could be finished later” in order to make it more immediately affordable.

Of course, all of this is not to diminish the importance of new technologies to home buyers. In fact, among the highest rated amenities are multiple phone lines, multizone HVAC systems and whole-house energy management and security systems. Less important, but still in buyers’ sights, are media rooms, which appear on 28 percent of wish lists.

The most surprising finding of our latest survey is the strong emphasis buyers placed on the great outdoors. It seems everyone wants a porch, deck or patio. Specifically, people want private outdoor space—where they can relax outside without the neighborhood watching.

To purchase “What the 21st Century Home Buyer Wants,” call 800/368-5242, ext. 434 or e-mail gahluwalia@nahb.com.

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