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What Consumers Want: A Look at First-Time Homebuyer Preferences


What Consumers Want: A Look at First-Time Homebuyer Preferences

NAHB Policy Briefing | What homebuyers want in a new home; increases to the cost of residential construction inputs

By National Association of Home Builders April 19, 2022
Laundry room
A laundry room is among the top 10 must-haves for first-time homebuyers, NAHB finds. | Photo: Rawpixel

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) regularly surveys homebuyers to better understand what consumers are looking for in their next home and community. These studies, NAHB’s “What Home Buyers Really Want” series, also look at the buying preferences of different generations, as well as those of first-time homebuyers.

The 2021 edition of the study asked first-time buyers to rate more than 200 home and community features using a four-tier scale: essential, desirable, indifferent, and do not want.

First-Time Buyers' Top 10 Most Wanted Features in a Home

The top 10 most wanted features (rated essential or desirable) by first-time homebuyers were: a laundry room, a ceiling fan, exterior lighting, a double kitchen sink, hardwood flooring, a walk-in pantry, drinking water filtration, a patio, security cameras, and space for a kitchen table.

There were some differences between the preferences of first-time buyers and buyers in general. Most notably, energy-saving features were among  the latter’s top 10 list; among buyers in general, Energy Star–rated windows ranked No. 4 while Energy Star–rated appliances ranked No. 9. A front porch also made the top 10 list among buyers in general, while drinking water filtration, security cameras, and space for a kitchen table failed to make the top 10 list for those buyers.

Looking at first-time homebuyer preferences for bathroom amenities, both a shower stall and tub in the primary bath (72%) ranked as the most popular of the 18 bathroom features listed in the NAHB study. This was followed closely by a linen closet in the primary bath (70%) and a private toilet compartment in the primary bath (67%).


Prices for Construction Inputs Are on the Rise

The average price of goods used as inputs to residential construction (that is, building products and materials, including energy and water) rose three times faster than the rate of core inflation in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Producer Price Index (PPI).

Prices for construction inputs have continued to rise in 2022. The cost of goods used in residential construction (except energy) climbed 1.6% in February (not seasonally adjusted), according to the latest PPI report. Building material prices increased 20.4%, year-over-year, and have risen 31.3% since January 2020. Over the past five months, the index has climbed 10.6%.

The price index of services inputs to residential construction increased 3.8% in February, following a revised 5.1% increase in January 2022. The index is 14.1% higher than it was a year ago and 32.6% higher than the January 2020 reading.

Chart: Cost of residential inputs for home building
Photo: ungvar /


Written By

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing more than 140,000 members involved in home building, remodeling, multifamily construction, property management, subcontracting, design, housing finance, building product manufacturing, and other aspects of residential and light commercial construction. For more, visit

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