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What Do Homebuyers Want? Builders Adopt a New Strategy

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What Do Homebuyers Want? Builders Adopt a New Strategy

Homebuyer desires are ever-changing and transient. Getting back to some core principles can help builders refocus their business and attract buyers in the process

February 5, 2020
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Research indicates that consumers value sustainability, affordability, and health when making homebuying decisions. | Photo: Flickr user Alachua County (CC by 2.0)
This article first appeared in the February 2020 issue of Pro Builder.

That is the ever-present head-scratcher of a question facing home builders year in and year out. Article after article touts the newest architectural style, floor plan, appliances, surfaces, lighting, windows, flooring, and technology that are the current must-haves for home shoppers. Combine these with the ups and downs brought on by changing demographics, the stock market, mortgage and employment rates, and urban or suburban preferences, and you have a stew of competing factors that make it impossible to please many buyers.

3 Fundamentals Homebuyers Want in a Home

All of the above are important to consider, but if you find yourself feeling like you’re trying to attract homebuyers with an array of shiny objects, it’s time to step back and reexamine your company’s basic premise. It’s far better to nail the overarching elements first before thinking about which trends of the moment might succeed in luring new customers.

After plowing through the research from a number of consumer preference surveys, it becomes clear there are three fundamental components a majority of buyers agree are most important:

  • Sustainability: Whether you call a home green, energy efficient, or eco-friendly, energy-saving features and low energy costs rank high on buyers’ lists of requirements. 
  • Attainability: As home prices continue to escalate, creative solutions for density, smaller footprints, sensible floor plans, and efficient building practices become ever more critical.
  • Health: A healthier living environment, including improved indoor air quality and the use of nontoxic materials, offers buyers peace of mind when choosing a home to buy.


In an effort to get a closer look at how builders can best adhere to and apply these principles, Pro Builder formed a partnership with the Energy and Environmental Building Alliance (EEBA) and Denver-based Thrive Home Builders. For nearly 40 years, EEBA has been the home building industry’s leading provider of sustainable building information and education, connecting its members with leaders in the high-performance home building community. 

Thrive Home Builders has been a national leader in the design and construction of energy-efficient homes for almost 30 years and has garnered 10 Grand Awards for Housing Innovation from the U.S. Department of Energy. Thrive was Pro Builder’s Builder of the Year in 2017 and received National Housing Quality Awards in 2018 and 2019, a testament to its operational proficiency. 

Together we will build a home that will debut during the EEBA Summit in Denver, Sept. 29 through Oct. 1, 2020. The finished product, an approximately 2,400-square-foot detached residence we call the Ultimate Z.E.N. (Zero Energy Now) Home, will be self-powered, designed to produce as much energy as it consumes, and certified by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready program. It will also be LEED-rated and qualified by the EPA’s Indoor airPLUS program

The home’s design, a collaboration between Thrive’s Eric Sung and architecture firm DTJ Design’s Seth Hart, will offer a balance between beautiful design and modern living functionality, with a clean, simple exterior and an open plan featuring high ceilings and large windows to offer both light and a spacious feel.

Pro Builder will cover the home throughout its construction, culminating in a feature story in December 2020. In addition to the EEBA Summit, Thrive will keep the Z.E.N. home open for a year as a model. I hope you’ll take a look at it, in person or in these pages and on our website, to get some fresh ideas about how to offer buyers more of what they really want.


Access a PDF of this article in Pro Builder's February 2020 digital edition


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Written By
editorial director

Denise Dersin, editorial director of Professional Builder, Custom Builder, PRODUCTS, NKBA Innovation+Inspiration, and co-editor of Multifamily Design+Construction, has been in publishing as an editor and writer for 30 years and has worked in the housing industry for much of that time.

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