Top 10 Features for First-Time Home Buyers


The recent NAHB study, What Home Buyers Really Want, 2021 Edition, asked first-time buyers to rate more than 200 home and community features using a four-tier scale: essential, desirable, indifferent and do not want.

The chart below shows the 10 “most wanted” features for first-time home buyers, based on the percentage of buyers rating a feature either desirable or essential.

Table showing most desired features

A laundry room tops the list, rated essential or desirable by 83% of first-time buyers, followed by a ceiling fan and exterior lighting, each rated essential or desirable by 81%. Four of the features most wanted by first-time buyers are kitchen features:

  • A double kitchen sink and walk-in pantry (each rated essential or desirable by 80%),
  • Drinking water filtration (78%) and
  • Table space for eating (77%).

Two are outdoor features: a patio (rated essential or desirable by 78%) in addition to exterior lighting.

Rounding out the top 10 are hardwood flooring for main-floor living spaces (80%) and security cameras (78%).

The list of features most wanted by first-time buyers is similar to the list for home buyers in general, although buyers in general tend to give the features slightly higher ratings. A laundry room, for example, is No. 1 on both lists, but is rated essential or desirable by 87% of buyers overall, compared to 83 percent of the first-time buyers. The ratings of many features tend to be positively correlated with income, and first-time buyers have a median income of $65,000, compared to $79,000 for home buyers in general.

The most noticeable difference between the features most wanted by first-time buyers and buyers in general, however, is the absence of energy-saving features on the first-time buyers’ top 10 list. Among buyers in general, ENERGY STAR rated windows ranked No. 4 and ENERGY STAR rated appliances ranked No. 9. A front porch also made the top 10 list among buyers in general.

On the other hand, drinking water filtration, security cameras and a kitchen table for eating failed to make the top 10 list for buyers in general.

NAHB Vice President for Survey and Housing Policy Research Paul Emrath provides more housing trends in this Eye on Housing post.

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