Home buyer preferences have continued to reverse trends in home building as builders work to respond to new interests in the wake of COVID-19. Increased desire for bigger homes, suburban locations and more outdoor amenities are driving new home design, resulting in a rise in the average size of a new home to 2,524 square feet, and the percentage of new homes with 4+ bedrooms and 3+ full bathrooms to 46% and 34%, respectively.
These interests vary across generations and are primarily driven by millennials and Gen Xers — 36% and 34%, respectively, of whom noted their housing preferences have changed because of the pandemic. In addition to a desire for more space and more bedrooms, millennials and Gen Xers are also looking for homes with modern or contemporary exteriors that are designed for multiple generations.
Other changes include an interest in exercise rooms and home offices in their homes, as well as designated bike lanes in their communities.
“With this data, you immediately see that younger buyers have been impacted by the pandemic more than older generations,” said Rose Quint, NAHB assistant vice president of survey research during a press conference at the 2022 International Builders’ Show in Orlando.
Only 18% of baby boomers, on the other hand, noted a change in their preferences. Baby boomers are interested in smaller homes on smaller lots, preferably in the suburbs. They also have an eye toward energy efficiency; top features unique to this generation include energy-efficient lighting, and ENERGY STAR appliances and whole home certification.
Quint attributed the greater interest in energy-efficient features to prior homeownership. “Boomers have likely owned a home before, and understand the costs of heating and cooling a home,” she noted.
Certain home features do resonate with all generations, however. The top five are:
- Laundry rooms
- Exterior lighting
- Ceiling fans
- Walk-in pantries
The percentage of single-family homes with patios has risen to 63% as more emphasis has been placed in outdoor living in recent years. Home buyers across generations have also noted interest in exterior living, with millennials indicating a specific interest in front porches as well.
“I love the fact that styles are cyclical, and that front porches are becoming popular again," shared Allison Paul, principal at Lessard Design. "People want to be outdoors."
Paul highlighted numerous examples of popular features and the variety of ways builders can integrate these features into their homes. Whether it’s an open kitchen with a kitchen island as a central focus, an elaborate home office that doubles as a hobby space, or simply a corner niche for basic exercise equipment to create a makeshift home gym, there are lots of creative ways to enhance homes to meet buyers’ growing preferences.
“I think we can create communities that have a really good mix of larger single-family homes, smaller single-family homes and detached living at a variety of price points,” Paul suggested to meet these varying interests. “It creates a mixed density with the community amenities they’re looking for, like walking trails.”
Additional information on home buyer trends can be found in NAHB’s What Home Buyers Really Want