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What Home Buyers Want the Most

From: www.nahb.org NAHB recently released What Home Buyers Really Want, a report aimed at providing our members the most current and accurate information on home buyer preferences so that they can deliver the home (and community) that today's buyers want and are willing to pay for. The findings are based on a detailed survey undertaken by the Economics and Housing Policy Group in 2012. The survey was conducted online and in two phases, using a consumer research panel maintained by the NAHB Research Center. The first phase used screening questions to identify recent home buyers (who purchased a home in the last three years) and prospective home buyers (those expecting to buy a home in the next three years). The second phase consisted of a detailed questionnaire sent to the recent and prospective buyers indentified in phase one. The results reported here are based on 3,682 responses to the detailed questionnaire.


Key Findings

  • Just over half of all home buyers would like to buy a brand new home; 28 percent from a builder and 27 percent custom built on their own land. An existing home is the first preference of the other 45 percent.
  • Buyers expect to pay about $203,900 for their next home.
  • Buyers want a home with a median 2,226 square feet, about 17 percent bigger than what they have now - 1,906 square feet.
  • For 25 percent of buyers, the size of the lot is not important when choosing a home.
  • Nearly half (47 percent) want three bedrooms, while 32 percent want four. The majority (65 percent) prefer either 2 or 2½ bathrooms.
  • Most home buyers (57 percent) prefer a single-story home; 31 percent prefer two stories.
  • Sixty-six percent of buyers want to have a full or partial basement.
  • Nearly half (48 percent) of buyers who want a 2-story home want the master bedroom on the second floor, while a majority (70 percent) prefer the washer and dryer on the first floor.
  • Most buyers want a 2-car garage (53 percent). About 1 in 5 wants a 3+car garage.
  • For 65 percent of buyers, the most influential characteristic when buying a home is "living space and number of rooms that meet their needs."
  • Buyers focus on quality and appearance when looking at most home components (flooring, doors, kitchen countertops and cabinets, carpeting etc.). When looking for appliances, however, the focus is on quality and brand name.
  • Of more than 120 features rated as "essential/must have," "desirable," "indifferent," or "do not want," a total of 11 are wanted (i.e. rated essential or desirable) by 85 percent or more of home buyers. This "most wanted" list shows buyers are most interested in two themes: energy efficiency and organization/storage in their homes. Energy-star rated appliances and windows, as well as a laundry room and garage storage, are wanted by the vast majority of home buyers (Figure 1).
  • Home builders also need to be concerned about what features it may be best not to include in a typical new home. A total of 11 features are rated as "do not want" (i.e. would not purchase a home that included it) by more than 35 percent of buyers. An elevator tops this list, rejected by 70 percent of buyers, followed by a home in a golf course community (66 percent) (Figure 2).
  • In the kitchen, a walk-in pantry, table space for eating, and a double sink are considered essential/desirable by 84 percent or more of all buyers. On the other hand, a wine cooler and laminate countertops are rejected by at least 40 percent of buyers.
  • Three out of 16 bathroom features stand out as desirable/essential to more than 80 percent of buyers - an exhaust fan, a linen closet, and both a shower stall and a tub in the master bath. Bath features categorically rejected by at least 30 percent of buyers include having only a shower stall in the master bath and having both a His and a Her baths.
  • When rating windows, the top three most wanted types/materials are all explicitly related to saving energy: more than two-thirds of buyers want energy-star rated windows, triple pane insulating glass, and low-e insulating glass.
  • The laundry room is the most indispensable of all specialty rooms, as 57 percent consider it to be essential - i.e. would not buy a home without it, and 36 percent think it is desirable. Over 66 percent of buyers also rate the living room, dining room, home office, and great room as either essential or desirable.
  • 2-story spaces are out of favor with many buyers: 43 percent do not want a 2-story family room and 38 percent reject the idea of a 2-story entry foyer.
  • Garage storage is important to buyers: 32 percent rate it essential, 54 percent desirable. Other specialty features wanted (rated essential or desirable) by more than half of all buyers include recessed lighting (59 percent) and an electronic air cleaner (52 percent).
  • The three most wanted outdoor features are exterior lighting (rated essential/desirable by 90 percent of buyers), a patio (83 percent), and a front porch (80 percent). On the contrary, 31 percent unequivocally reject the idea of an outdoor kitchen.
  • Eighty one percent of buyers want a full bath on the main level. In fact, 45 percent consider it a necessity (rated it essential/must have). Other accessibility features wanted by more than 75 percent of buyers include doorways at least 3 feet wide (79 percent) and hallways at least 4 feet wide (78 percent) (Figure 3).
  • Half of all home buyers want amenities (including electronic systems and technology features) included in the base price. The other half want a basic home with amenities offered as options.
  • When it comes to technology features, few buyers currently have them yet many want them in their next home. For instance, 50 percent would like to have a wireless home security system, but only 15 percent do so in their homes now. Forty percent would like security cameras, something only 7 percent of buyers currently have (Figure 4).

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