Design Meets Demand: What Home Buyers Really Want

Annual Avid Ratings Survey reveals what buyers really want in their homes
By By Paul Cardis, CEO, Avid Ratings | December 31, 2008
Cardis' Tips

Although the age of extravagance has ended for many home buyers, that does not mean they have stopped demanding certain amenities and design features. In fact, the “Third Annual Home Design Drivers Survey” conducted by Avid Ratings highlights numerous design elements that could make the difference between a home sold and one that depreciates while it sits.

To conduct this year's survey, Avid received in-depth feedback (75 questions per survey) from more than 900 recent new home buyers about the importance of various design features if they were in the market again. All respondents had moved into their new homes within 3 years and represent potential buyers across the U.S.

Based on the results, Avid was able to assign one of the following four designations to each design feature:

  • Must-Have — an item that must be present for homeowners to buy.
  • Desirable — an item that homeowners really want
  • Tradable — an item that homeowners are willing to forgo if it means getting something else they really want.
  • Removable — an item that homeowners do not care much about.

Shown are the Top 5 items that this year's survey respondents rated. Also, we'll debut a detailed presentation of the findings 10:15 – 11:45 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 20, in room North 256 during the 2009 International Builders' Show at Las Vegas Convention Center. On hand will be executives from Avid Ratings; architect Carol Lavender, owner of Lavender Design Group in San Antonio, Texas; and Heather McCune, director of marketing for Bassenian/Lagoni Architects in Newport Beach, Calif.

Of course, home building is a local industry, and what's tradable in one part of the country may be a must-have in another. Consequently, home builders will have a much easier time emerging strong from the current recession if they understand what is important to their home buyers and are able to build homes that first deliver all the musts, many of the desires, swap out the tradable and remove the unimportant. For additional reports in your region, please visit

Paul Cardis is CEO of Avid Ratings, a research and consulting firm specializing in customer satisfaction for the home building industry. You can reach him at



  • Oversized shower with seating
  • Energy-efficient appliances
  • Sizable kitchen
  • Ceiling fans/blinds
  • Home office/study
  • Master suite soaker tub
  • Butler's pantry
  • Tankless water heater
  • Green flooring
  • Stone exterior
  • Whirlpool tub
  • Upstairs laundry
  • Finished rec room/basement
  • Home theater/media room
  • Brick exterior
  • Au pair/mother-in-law suite
  • Walk-out basement
  • Wine cellar
  • Pool
  • 4-car garage

Cardis' Tips

Be Data Driven Now is not the time to make decisions based solely on gut feelings.

Make smart cuts Eliminate what's not important to buyers and focus on must-have and desirable items.

Don't touch the kitchen Large kitchens with islands and energy-efficient appliances remain must-haves with most consumers.

Save energy Energy-saving construction and materials are important with today's buyers.