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The design of the home is equally as important as location--and it's even more important than the price of the home, according to John Burns Real Estate Consulting. Want to give buyers better value with better design? Let's take a look at some of the design trends that will be hot in 2016 (Photo: Ross Cooperthwaite Photography).

1/ Better scale and function. Excess is out: Small is the new big. Micro homes are calling attention to how we can better maximize space. Buyers are looking at function versus size. The takeaway: Builders need to deliver better function and versatility to attract buyers.

Space-efficient homes with great outdoor areas answer current buyer preferences (Photo: Chang Kyun Kim).

2/ Width sells. Wider, smaller lots are in. For example, on a 70 by 70-foot lot, we can get a master bedroom suite downstairs, with private space connected to the master suite, kitchen, family room and second bedroom (possibly a multi-generational suite). Multiple garage configurations can be utilized, plus the option for a separate third-car garage, a casita, or a multi-generational suite. Other lifestyle enhancing designs have been configured on lot sizes such as 60 by 60 and 50 by 50. The takeaway: With 50 percent more architecture to the street, the home now looks bigger and has more curb appeal.

Wide elevations offer curb appeal (Photo: John Bare Photography).

3/ Higher degree of personalization. Buyers are discerning; as a result, personalization is in. Buyers want to pick and choose what they desire in their new home; they don't want to feel like they're paying for stuff they don’t want. This idea goes far beyond what is offered in a builder’s design center. Each consumer will live in the interior space of a home differently. The takeaway: Homebuyers want to be able to personalize how they live in their own home.

Touches like pet amenities make a home feel personalized (Photo courtesy KTGY Architecture + Planning).

4/ Homes that are attainable. Out-of-reach home pricing is out. If buyers want more space, affordability and financing are driving the home size they can afford. Today's buyers need their homes to do more in less space to make the homes more attainable. The takeaway: Young, first-time buyers, typically burdened with student loans, will demand smaller, more affordable homes.

Homes that are modest in scale are a must in order to attract first-time buyers (Photo: Chang Kyun Kim).

5/ Greater connectivity. Limited access to the outdoors is out. It's no secret that indoor-outdoor living is favored by home buyers. But how the home connects to the outdoor is paramount. No one wants to have to walk through the dining room to get to an outdoor courtyard. The takeaway: Delivering better indoor-to-outdoor connectivity is key right now, and it will be in 2016, too.

Indoor-outdoor fluidity helps sell homes, in all parts of the country (Photo: Christopher Mayer Photography).

6/ More outdoor space that's private. The desire for this is growing. Buyers don’t want to see their neighbors when they are relaxing outside. Private courtyards that open up to two or three rooms in the home extend the living and entertaining space and accessibility as well as the utility. The takeaway: Fireplaces, couches, and TVs have moved outdoors to create outdoor living rooms.

Delivering outdoor spaces that feel private is a must (Photo: Mark Boisclair Photography).

7/ A want, not a need. People have many options in today’s market including purchasing a resale, renting a home, or living in a resort-style, amenity-rich apartment community. Owning a home is not a need, it is a want. The takeaway: Builders need to give buyers more reasons to buy a new home.

Buyers are seeking homes that feel amenity-rich and even resort-like (Christopher Mayer Photography).

8/ Garages aren't just for cars. Garages designed strictly for cars are out. Garages with high ceilings that allow for extra storage off the floor and extra room for grownup toys like bicycles, skidoos, motorcycles, etc. offer buyers more versatility. The takeaway: As more people forgo a car for public transportation, Uber, or Lyft, the structure that used to store a car can be converted into a casita, a man cave, a she-shed, a hobby room, or an entertainment space.

The garage can be a man-cave, she-shed, or something in between (Photo: Courtesy KTGY Architecture + Planning).

9/ Lock-and-leave. Today’s homebuyer, whether a Millennial or a Boomer, want to enjoy an active lifestyle and avoid a lot of home maintenance. The takeaway: High maintenance homes are out.

Low-maintenance homes are in demand by a wide spectrum of buyers (Photo: Courtesy KTGY Architecture + Planning).

10/ Multi-functional laundry rooms. Laundry rooms just for laundry are out. Builders can increase a laundry room’s function and versatility by adding square footage and options like extra storage, ample counter space for hobbies, a pet wash, drop zone and a mud room. The takeaway: To a laundry room, consider adding other options, like a horizontal laundry chute through a door from the master closet to the laundry room.

Laundry rooms need to do double- and triple-duty (Photo: Mark Boisclair Photography).

11/ Home workspaces. If the office or workspace is used by family members for homework or hobbies, the best location is to have the office close to the kitchen and family room for better functionality. The takeaway: Dens or a home office located off the home’s entry are out.

Home offices can can be set throughout the house, including in the kitchen, where the action is. (Photo: Karen Shell Photography).

Nick Lehnert, who has over 40 years of experience in home building, heads up KTGY Architecture + Planning's Market Research and R + D Design in Irvine, Calif. Reach him at