As we move into the peak construction and sales season, it's especially important for builders to know exactly what buyers want in a new home. The market is very competitive, even when times are as good as they are today, so products that meet consumer expectations are going to have a definite edge.
What Lies Ahead
Fortunately, the NAHB's extensive housing market research and analyses can help builders ensure that their homes have the features that today's buyers want. Based on interviews with consumers, builders, and architects, the NAHB is projecting a number of trends in new homes over the coming year:
The average size of newly built homes has stabilized at 2,320 square feet over the last three years and is expected to remain in this range.
More than half of all newly built homes will have 9-foot or higher ceilings, which are becoming a standard feature in the average home.
The median lot size will continue to decline as growth controls cause inventories of “build-able” land to shrink and land costs to rise. Conversely, large-lot/slow-growth zoning ordinances in certain jurisdictions will continue to mandate one-acre or larger lots for some homes.
There will be a heightened emphasis on special features such as high-end appliances, low-maintenance finishes, and above-grade materials. This will be most apparent in kitchens and bathrooms. Buyers of new homes are demanding large kitchens that are adjacent to family rooms, with the two rooms being visually open or divided by a half wall. Bathrooms are also getting larger and are increasingly being built with upgraded fixtures and lighting, plus linen closets, double vanities, and separate toilet compartments.
Living rooms are shrinking or disappearing altogether. More than one-third of homes built last year did not have a living room, and this trend is expected to continue.
Most new homes will come complete with a separate laundry room, which most buyers identify as a top priority.
Homes with structured wiring systems that allow for faster data transfer rates will continue to gain in popularity. In fact, three-quarters of home builders offered structured wiring in their homes last year.
High-tech features, including monitored security, distributed audio, and home theater systems, and, to a lesser extent, automated lighting and energy-management systems, are now very much available in the upscale marketplace. Looking forward, these can be expected to percolate down to the general market.
More communities will be built with recreational facilities, including walking/jogging trails for adults, play areas for children, and/or fitness centers.
Expect to see more ceiling fans in newly built homes. Close to 80 percent of respondents in a recent NAHB survey of consumer preferences listed ceiling fans as desirable or essential features in a new home, indicating a significantly greater emphasis on these than in the past.
If you're like me and prefer to base important business decisions on hard facts rather than a hunch or hearsay, then the NAHB's ongoing research into consumer preferences and builder practices can be an extremely valuable resource.
For more information about consumer preferences, go to www.nahb.org, click on the “Resources” button, and then click on “Economic and Housing Data.”