Click here to download a PDF of the 2009 BUILDER/American LIVES New-Home Shopper Survey. Please note this is a large file and may take some time to download.

Americans shopping for new homes during May and June were much more optimistic about their personal financial situation than the overall economy, according to the results of the 2009 BUILDER/American LIVES New-Home Shopper Survey.

Ninety-five percent of shoppers polled, for instance, characterized the overall economy as “not so good” or “poor.” But only 31 percent saw their personal economic situation that way, suggesting that people shopping for a new home may be in a good position to lead the economy out of recession.

Commissioned by BUILDER magazine, the Internet survey of 686 people shopping for new homes was done by American LIVES, a Carmel Valley, Calif.–based research firm. American LIVES obtained prospect lists from builders in top home building states of California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, North Carolina, Michigan, and Indiana.

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Most of the people surveyed (59 percent) said that it’s an “OK” or a “good time” to buy a new home. Moreover, 74 percent said that they are not waiting for the housing market to bottom before they buy. And 55 percent said they want to buy now because they can get more for their money. 
The survey unearthed evidence that people are concerned about keeping their job, or their spouse keeping a job. A full 66 percent said that they are at least somewhat concerned about potential job loss within their household. Perhaps for that reason, a full 82 percent of respondents agreed somewhat or strongly that they don’t want to stretch their finances too much to buy a new home.

The survey results suggest that shoppers are looking more for personal satisfaction from a new-home purchase than investment gain. The survey results unearthed strong demand for smaller homes. “There is a new market for a small home, under 1,300 square feet, with the most energy-efficient features possible,” says Warrick. “These homes should be targeted at single women.”

The survey also suggests that homes have become more important to Americans as they spend less time in restaurants and malls. Nearly four out of five new-home shoppers, for instance, feel strongly that spending time at home with family has become more important. Also, two-thirds agree with the statement, “I’m not going out as much, so my home is more important.”

The survey revealed that energy efficiency is a stronger hot button with buyers than green features. Half of new-home shoppers, for instance, said they would pay at least an extra $5,000 for energy-conserving features that would add at least $35 a month to their payments. Their favorite investments are high-efficiency HVAC, high-performance windows, and insulation that exceeds code.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Indianapolis, IN.