What do buyers want? NAHB lists 2019’s top features

LAS VEGAS – Feb. 21, 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 during a press conference at the NAHB International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas.

NAHB surveyed nearly 4,000 homebuyers – people who recently purchased a home or plan to purchase one 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.

Overall housing trends

Average home sizes continue to decline, and there is a decreased demand for upscale features such as three-plus-car garages. In 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average new-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,” says Rose Quint, association vice president of survey research at NAHB. “To that end, they are building more townhomes and smaller detached homes. Townhomes take up less land, and that automatically brings the price down.”

New homes have been downsizing since 2016; fewer have four or more bedrooms, or three or more bathrooms. It shows “that builders are trying to respond to the crisis around housing affordability,” Quint says.

NAHB’s survey also includes key information on types and location of homes desired by buyers:

  • 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

According to NAHB’s survey, 86 percent of homebuyers 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).

“White upon white is the new style that is emerging,” says Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz. That trend applies to both kitchens and bathrooms in terms of cabinets and countertops, as well as gray on white.

Other rising trends

  • Farmhouse styles incorporating ample amounts of wood
  • Engineered quartz countertops for color flexibility
  • Vinyl and resilient flooring, especially for aging in place
  • Wireless controls
  • Open interior and exterior spaces in the kitchen
  • Higher-end fixture installations in the bathroom, such as wall-mounted sinks, faucets and toilets