The Practical Home of Today


New homes are selling again but the features that were once hot have drastically shifted with the evolving needs of the new home buyer. Since the housing market crisis, home buyers have become more practical with the things they want and need, including a short drive to their job and savings on projected utility costs.  Short commutes and smart use of energy resources Ada County and Canyon County, Idaho are thriving places to be and live.

In the past, buyers were raging about wine cellars, sun rooms, and expansive media rooms. But shaped by today's economy and buyer's wish-lists, builders have made some fundamental changes.

Drawing upon a new study released by the National Association of Home Builders titled, “What Home Buyers Really Want,” the top four most desired features included energy efficiency. In fact, 94 percent of respondents said that they wanted Energy Star rated appliances, 91 percent said they wanted the entire home Energy Star rated, 89 percent wanted Energy Star rated windows, while 88 percent desired ceiling fans. The survey included 3,682 home buyers who either purchased a home in the last 3 years or intend to in the next three. The buyers rated over 120 features by either giving them an essential, desirable, indifferent or do not want rating.

Energy and Storage 

Closet with Proper Storage

Second to energy savings, buyers want storage, storage, storage. Buyers want to keep their home organized. People don't want the extra jazz, instead they're thinking about the day to day features that will make daily living easier and more efficient. 93 percent want a laundry room, and 57 percent of those surveyed said they'd be unlikely to buy a home without one. Rose Quint, NAHB's assistant vice president for survey research, said, “Home buyers want help with organization. They want laundry rooms to keep dirty laundry out of the way.” Buyers also stated they want garage storage and a walk in kitchen pantry.

Though homes are being built smaller, buyers want bigger garages. Many look at three car garages not for extra cars, but for extra storage space to stow away bikes, sports equipment and yard tools.

Back in 1973 when the Census Bureau started keeping track, the average house was 1,660 square feet. In 2005, the average new home was 2,434. Today, the average size is 2,438 square feet. But according to the NAHB, the average size of the US home will fall to 2,152 by 2015. Americans are beginning to realize that a smaller home is a cheaper home, while most buyers associate big homes with escalating utility bills and maintenance burdens. High ceilings and two story entry foyers are looked at as costly to heat and cool.

Commute and HOA Dues

Well Planed NeighborhoodBuyers were once purchasing homes deeper and deeper into suburban sprawl and further away from work. That trend is reversing. David Crowe, the chief economist with the NAHB said, “At 30 percent, proximity to work was the most frequently cited reason for choosing a specific neighborhood.” Today, buyers are paying close attention to commute times during the house hunt. There are even online tools you can use to determine housing plus affordability to ascertain a home's true cost based on its location.

Home buyers are considering the quality of space rather than sheer quantity. A well designed 2,000 square foot home will be more efficient than a poorly planned one with 3,000 square feet. Buyers want open and defined floor plans with a connection between rooms while maintaining privacy. According to the NAHB survey, more homes reflect casual living with the kitchen being the center of activity, particularly those that open up to the dining and living areas. Also, buyers want homes that have rooms easy to furnish. For example, a master bedroom with an entryway large enough to fit a king size bed as well as a wall large enough to hold it.

Quality of Space Inside and Out

Today's home buyers are also looking outside the home. A front porch is a highly desirable feature that has increased in popularity over the years. Residences built with either front or rear porches jumped from 42 percent in 1992 to 65 percent in 2011, according to a construction survey done by the US Census Bureau. The percentage has been going up for almost 10 years, and continues to do so. Consumer Reports suggest that in neighborhoods, porches have the power to connect people, and goes to show just how much people want to spend time outdoors. People like to host outdoor meals and get to together, and a backyard porch is a must have.

So, what are the home features that buyers are most turning away from? Keeping in line with buyer's desire for energy efficiency, 43 percent reject a two story great room and 38Intimate Patio percent don't want a two story foyer area. In addition, buyers are less concerned with expensive community amenities that necessitate high homeowner association dues. Quint says that, “four out of five do not want community features.” Most people in the survey rejected golf course living, high density communities, and mixed use communities. Instead, people want nearby open spaces and hiking trails, amenities that require little to no money.

What Do and Don't Buyers Want?

Buyers are not interested in outdoor kitchens, gated communities, wet bars, laminate counter tops, game rooms, and only a shower stall in the master bath. Known for friendly communities that are free of gates and have homes that feature efficient floor plans.  When it comes to living, Idaho is the superior choice.

Because today's new homes are built more practically than their resale counterparts, they often end up having the advantage in the home buyer's mind. New homes are well outfitted and cater nicely to the evolved buyer's needs. Buyers not only get to design the home the way they want it, but they also get the energy and cost savings that have become so important. These homes are built in master planned communities with resident amenities, include the paths and open spaces so many people find important.

Sources: Honey, I stretched the House—Again. The 5 Features Today's Home buyers Want most

NAHB: What Home Buyers Really Want

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