What Home Buyers Want in a New Home

Ninety-four percent of new home buyers cite Energy Star-rated appliances as the most important feature in their new home. (Photo: The Burnsteads. Issaquah, WA.)

What are the most popular features home buyers want? And how do they compare to your wish list?

With a rebounding housing market comes a rebounding home buyer.

Recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau found that homes built in 2012 were bigger and more expensive than homes that were constructed in the last few years. However, today’s home buyers are also more conscious of being green (sort of). Recent new home buyers wanted a unified living space and they placed a high value on storage, storage, storage. How do these preferences compare to the features and amenities that you're looking for in your new home search?

Here’s what a recently released survey, “What Home Buyers Really Want,” of 3,682 home buyers by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) found: When it comes to home buyer preferences, energy efficiency was a frequent characteristic on the most wanted list. Ninety-four percent of respondents said they wanted Energy Star-rated appliances, 91 percent wanted an Energy Star-rating for the entire home, 89 percent wanted Energy Star-rated windows and 88 percent wanted ceiling fans.

Cost savings — not environmental impact — played a major role in making energy efficiency a desirable characteristic, as 67 percent of respondents said they were concerned about the home’s impact on the environment, but would not pay more for it. However, 73 percent agreed that projected utility costs would influence their purchase decision. On average, home buyers were willing to pay $7,095 more for a home that would save them $1,000 a year in utility costs.

Another big want for home buyers? A way to clear the clutter: 93 percent wanted a laundry room, 90 percent wanted a bathroom linen closet, 86 percent wanted garage storage and 85 percent wanted a walk-in kitchen pantry. “Home buyers want help with organization … they want laundry rooms to keep dirty laundry out of the way,” said Rose Quint, NAHB’s assistant vice president for survey research and an author of the study, during a webinar to discuss the findings of the survey. Of those who wanted a laundry room, 57 percent considered it essential and would not buy a home that didn’t have one.

In addition, home buyers are looking for bigger (think three-car or more) garages. They’re using the extra space in garages, not for an extra car, but for storage. Of those, 32 percent considered garage storage as a must-have area in the home.

Based on the survey, buyers can expect to see more homes that reflect casual living that makes the kitchen the center of the home. Quint noted that the kitchen is where many home buyers not only cook, but entertain and watch, well, cooking shows. In that respect, buyers are looking for an open floor plan, where the kitchen opens up to the dining area and living room.

So what did respondents give a big thumbs down to? Elevators, homes in a golf course community, only a shower stall in the master bath (give them their tubs too!) and a two-story entry foyer, which they view as costly to heat and cool.

Below is the complete list of the most wanted – and least wanted – characteristics home buyers want in a new home, followed by the percentage:

Features Most Home Buyers Want  

  • Energy Star-rated appliances — 94 percent
  • Laundry room — 93 percent
  • Energy Star-rating for the whole home — 91 percent
  • Exhaust fan in bathroom — 90 percent
  • Exterior Lighting — 90 percent
  • Bathroom Linen Closet — 90 percent
  • Energy Star-rated windows — 89 percent
  • Ceiling fans — 88 percent
  • Garage Storage — 86 percent
  • Table space for eating in kitchen — 85 percent
  • Walk-in kitchen pantry — 85 percent

Features Fewer Buyers Want  

  • Elevator — 70 percent
  • Golf course community — 66 percent
  • High-density community — 56 percent
  • Only a shower stall in master bath — 51 percent
  • Gated community — 48 percent
  • Mixed-use community — 44 percent
  • Two-story family room — 43 percent
  • Wine cooler — 42 percent
  • Wet bar — 41 percent
  • Laminate countertop — 40 percent
  • Two-story entry foyer — 38 percent
  • Laundry chute — 32 percent
  • Outdoor kitchen — 31 percent
  • Game room — 31 percent
  • His & Her baths — 31 percent
  • Glass front cabinets — 31 percent
  • Countertop — 30 percent

What’s on your housing wish list? Does it mirror that of the survey? We’d love to hear what you’re looking for — drop us a note at blog@newhomesource.com.

Patricia L. Garcia is content manager for NewHomeSource and an award-winning journalist. You can find her on Google+.

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