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, according to new data.
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 more than four bedrooms and more than three full bathrooms to 46 percent and 34 percent, respectively, according to a new survey conducted for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
These interests vary across generations and are primarily driven by Millennials and Gen Xers – 36 percent and 34 percent, 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, 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 NAHB assistant vice president of Survey Research Rose Quint at a press conference held during the NAHB International Builders’ Show in Orlando.
Only 18 percent of Baby Boomers, on the other hand, noted a change in their preferences. Boomers are interested in smaller homes on smaller lots, preferably in the suburbs. They also have an eye toward energy efficiency.
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
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,” said 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, including an open kitchen with a kitchen island as a central focus and 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.