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MY GENERATION BLOG: What Home Buyers Really Want May Surprise and Delight You!

The NAHB Economics and Housing Policy Group and its precursors have been collecting information what home buyers want since the early 1980s to provide housing industry stakeholders with insight into buyers’ preferences for home characteristics such as size, room layout and design, kitchen and baths, windows and doors, accessibility and outdoor features, technology, and energy efficiency, as well as preferences for community amenities

The survey was conducted at the tail end of a protracted housing recession that affected not only the number of new homes that are built each year, but also the characteristics and features of the ones that do get built. Many in the industry have begun to wonder about what home buyers in today’s market really want (and will not give up), as well as which features they are ready to leave behind in light of current economic realities.

The What Home Buyers Really Want study was designed to answer these questions, and more specifically, to provide the most current and accurate information on buyer preferences so that NAHB members can deliver the home (and community) that today’s buyers want and are willing to pay for ….

The NAHB survey asked home buyers to choose the top three characteristics (from a list of ten) that would most influence their purchase decision. For 65%, “living space and number of rooms to meet your needs” ranks as the most influential characteristic, followed at a distance by “energy-efficient features” (39%) ….To isolate specific attributes that home buyers really want in detail, the NAHB survey asked them to rate a list of more than 120 home and community features on the following scale:

  • Essential/must have (unlikely to buy a home without this feature/design)      •      Desirable (would be seriously influenced to buy a home because feature/design was included)      •      Indifferent (would not influence purchase decision)      •      Do not want (not likely to buy a home with this design/feature)

Globally, 11 of these features were rated as either essential or desirable by 85% or more of home buyers. The 85%-plus list includes two features in the bathroom, two in the kitchen, and three dealing with Energy Star ratings,

Of course, many items not wanted in general may be especially desired by particular types of home buyers … Buyers’ ratings for all 120+ features (noting differences in preferences among buyers, where relevant) [are] grouped into the following broad categories:

  • Kitchen and bath features      •      Windows, doors and decorative features      •      Specialty rooms or features      •      Accessibility features      •      Outdoor features      •      Energy-saving features      •      Development/Community features ….

It is important to keep in mind what the buyer meant when rating a feature essential/must have, and that is that he/she would be unlikely to buy a home without it; or desirable, that he/she would be seriously influenced to buy a home if feature was included …

Over 70% of home buyers agree that contractors with specialized designations are “more professional and credible” (83%), they “provide better quality work and craftsmanship” (78%), they “provide better service levels” (76 percent), and are “more reliable” (74%). The most important measure of support for designations, however, comes from the fact that 64% of buyers agree specialized contractors are “worth paying a higher price for.”