NAHB Outlines Top Features Home Buyers Want for 2019

February 20, 2019

Laundry rooms and energy-saving features such as Energy Star appliances, windows and whole house certification are among the most wanted home features, according to survey results from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) released today during a press conference at the NAHB International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas. NAHB surveyed nearly 4,000 home buyers—those who have either recently purchased a home or plan to purchase a home within the next three years—ranking 175 features based on how essential they are to a home purchasing decision.

The top 10 features also included home-storage needs, such as garage storage and walk-in pantries, as well as hardwood flooring, a patio and exterior lighting.

Housing trends across the board include a continued decline in the average home size and decreased demand for upscale features such as three-plus-car garages. In 2018, according to information from the U.S. Census Bureau, the average home started declined to 2,576 square feet—down from its peak at 2,689 square feet in 2015—driven in part by increased production in townhouses, which comprised 14 percent of new home starts.

“Builders are trying to meet demand where it’s hottest, and that is at the lower price points,” Rose Quint, AVP of survey research at NAHB, noted regarding the increase in townhouse production. “To that end, they are building more townhomes and smaller detached homes. Townhomes take up less land, and that automatically brings the price down.”

Recent trends show new homes have been downsizing since 2016; fewer have four or more bedrooms, or three or more bathrooms. These data “show that builders are trying to respond to the crisis around housing affordability,” Quint added.

NAHB’s survey also includes key information on types and location of homes desired by buyers, including generational differences. Suburbs are the most desirable home location (64 percent), followed by a rural setting (24 percent) and the central city (11 percent). Millennials are the most likely to want to buy a home in a central city (23 percent), compared to Gen X buyers (11 percent), baby boomers (8 percent) or seniors (3 percent).

Kitchen and Bath Trends to Watch

According to NAHB’s survey, 86 percent of home buyers prefer their kitchen and dining room to be completely or partially open. Top finishes include stainless steel appliances (67 percent), granite or natural stone kitchen countertops (57 percent), and white kitchen cabinetry (32 percent).

Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz, shared similar findings from its consumer research for kitchens and master bathrooms.

“White upon white is the new style that is emerging,” she stated—both for the kitchen and bathroom—in terms of cabinets and countertops, as well as gray on white.

Other rising trends include: farmhouse styles incorporating ample amounts of wood; engineered quartz countertops for color flexibility; vinyl and resilient flooring, especially for aging in place; wireless controls, and open interior and exterior spaces in the kitchen; and higher-end fixture installations in the bathroom, such as wall-mounted sinks, faucets and toilets.

Additional details on the NAHB data are featured in the full 300-page report, What Home Buyers Really Want (2019 edition).