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Home is What You Make It — So Make It Right

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Home is What You Make It — So Make It Right

Research from the New Home Trends Institute confirms that we are really attached to our homes. What can builders and architects do to make their development a must-have for any buyer?

February 16, 2022
The kitchen is by far the biggest make-or-break space for homebuyers
The kitchen is by far the biggest make-or-break space for homebuyers. Photo by PNW Production from Pexels

When you think of home, what comes to mind? The spacious four walls recently splattered with a fresh coat of paint, or maybe all the times you’ve hosted a dinner party with friends?

For some, home may not even be a physical space, but rather the being with people they call family. Regardless of definition, behind every home is a story—one of shelter and emotional attachment.

Reported in the New Home Trends Institute's October 2021 Insights Report, over 1,200 homeowners shared their preferences regarding the emotional connection they have for their home. In this report, NHTI also found what spaces make or break a purchase, and where designers should focus most.

According to the research, homeowners are twice as likely to prefer buying a new home than to remodel their current one to meet their exact preferences. And even then, most (52%) are likely to purchase a resale home than to buy new construction (38%).

RELATED: Turning Offices into Homes

What this means for builders, then, is that they need to attract homebuyers through their key preferences. For a lot of buyers—especially families—that means memory points.

One space in particular has remained the leading make-or-break point in a purchase—a room that over half of homeowners determined as needing to be “just right”—is the kitchen.


Have you ever been to a get-together and find that everyone ends up gravitating toward the kitchen? It’s not just you, everyone loves a good kitchen.

Across all demographics and stages of life, the kitchen is valued as the focal point of any home. Many homeowners also view it as indicative of the quality of the rest of the property.

Graph of the most important space that home design gets right

Based on survey results, NHTI recommends some kitchen design choices that will resonate with buyers. Adequate storage space—closed cabinets and places to store small appliances—and an open layout are the top requests. 

Designers should also plan for plenty of counter space. Homebuyers love a kitchen island, or at least one section of uninterrupted countertop space. And while designers should also consider making kitchens designed for two cooks at once, be weary of creating too big of a kitchen.

"[The] kitchen can make or break a home. Too small and I’ll hate cooking in it, and too large it’s a waste of space." — Young Single or Couple in Suburban Oregon

In general, homeowners see the kitchen as the heart of the home. It’s an emotional attachment that bears repeating, and designers should place extra care in developing the space.


Since 64% of homeowners feel a deep emotional connection to their current home, it will often take a strong emotional connection for them to move. Shelter is not enough; lifestyle is.

Research suggests that home builders should put less focus into promoting the science of the building—how energy efficient or healthy it is—and more on the emotion. Not that sustainability and environmental concerns aren’t important factors in the homebuying process, but because buyers find it too information-heavy.

Scale of emotional connection to current home NHTI research

Companies like Thrive Home Builders have pivoted toward emotional appeals in the promotion process. As nearly two-thirds of homeowners feel such deep connections to the space they call home, playing into their pathos might be very beneficial.

In an effort to transition from shelter to lifestyle, NHTI also recommends using flex spaces and options to help buyers match homes to their lifestyle. Give them the option to trade out game room space for an extra bedroom, for example.

Show support for the buyer’s lifestyle once their basic needs have been met. Help them imagine a beautiful home office or fitness room. Consider how spaces will be used; accommodate for aspiration indulgence, but remain within reason.

In the end, family homeowners love their house because of the moments that are created in its different spaces. Whether it’s the kitchen, living room, or a shared outdoor space, it's the memories that make the mold.

To find out how to get access to the Home Buyer Preferences Survey Insight Report, and other exclusive research from the New Home Trends Institute (fresh reports released monthly), visit NewHomeTrendsInstitute.com or email Deana Vidal at dvidal@realestateconsulting.com.

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