Are you one of the 46 percent of buyers who strongly prefer a resale home and restrict your shopping to long-established neighborhoods?
Maybe you’re one of the roughly 20 percent of buyers who are determined to purchase a newly built home and have no interest in visiting resale listings?
Or perhaps you’re one of the 35 percent who are open to either new or existing homes for sale, depending on which house and community represents the best fit and the best deal?
Well, guess what: New consumer survey research — the 2012 Homebuyer Insights Study by Builders Digital Experience — found there are distinct differences in attitudes, personalities, priorities and even demographic factors that buyers bring to their decision-making process in finding a home. Who you really are, and what you value most, matter a lot in determining where and how you shop and what type of house you end up buying, the survey found.
Some of the differences are not hard to guess. For instance, people who describe themselves as strongly interested in newly constructed houses rank saving on energy costs high on their list of priorities. It’s well established that newly constructed homes are far more energy-efficient on average than resale homes, which by definition are older and often were built to much less stringent energy consumption standards than are typical today.
Purchasers of new homes also describe themselves as much more strongly interested in up-to-date interior floor plans, high quality construction and “safe” neighborhoods compared with purchasers of resale houses.
By contrast, buyers who restrict their shopping to existing homes place exceptionally high value on living in neighborhoods that have large lots, neighborhoods that have mature trees and landscaping, plus offer a sense of community. By doing so, residents feel as though they part of a neighborhood with an established identity, where people know each other, interact cooperatively and get together through block parties and similar community-bonding events. They also place high priority on being located in a setting convenient to where they work and proximity to good schools.
This doesn’t mean that buyers committed to purchase resale homes are not interested in floor plans that make sense for today’s living patterns or that buyers in new home subdivisions don’t value community events and treed lots. It’s just that people who are committed to either new or existing housing rank their priorities and goals differently on the spectrum of choices available to them.
So what about shoppers who are open to both new and existing homes? What are they seeking and how do they rank their priorities? It turns out they see the potential benefits in both new and resale options and they are looking for the optimal house for their needs, whether it was built 50 years ago or this past spring.
They are particularly concerned about quality of construction, energy savings and up-to-date floor plans and they rank newly built homes as superior in these areas. But they also value highly the idea of being part of an established neighborhood and owning a larger lot — and here they give the nod to resale homes. Whereas buyers committed to new construction tend to shop by visiting builders’ sales offices online and in new subdivisions and resale purchasers overwhelmingly seek the assistance of Realtors to help them pare down choices, buyers who have open minds about new and resale tend to do both.
What Do You Value?
What more do we know about what distinguishes people who are inclined to buy new, resale or either? In-depth interviews by researchers have turned up some intriguing personal differences that aren’t well known.
Those Only Looking for New
Buyers who shop solely for new homes are statistically more likely to already own a home, are either moving up or downsizing, and they tend to be slightly older. They are also significantly more likely than others to attend religious services regularly, are more willing to pay more for high-quality goods and services and much more likely to describe themselves as a “perfectionist.” They also express a desire to have control over events and outcomes, but are also more likely than others to view themselves as “risk takers.” They like to buy “new gadgets and appliances” — they are early adopters within their circle of friends and associates — and they are significantly more concerned about personal nutrition than other buyers.
Those Looking for New or Resale
Buyers who are open to new or resale homes have slightly higher educational backgrounds and have the highest incomes on average of the three groups. They also are statistically more likely to describe themselves as “environmentally responsible” compared with others, but say they’re actually willing to put their money where their beliefs are — they’ll pay more for environmentally friendly products and home features.
Curiously, of the three groups, they are the least interested in taking risks. They are willing to pay more for top quality and tend to focus on product brands — appliances or décor — more than on price. As a group, they are less interested in controlling events or getting things perfect than those who are shopping solely in new subdivisions.
Those Looking Solely for Resale Home
Buyers who shop solely for resale homes are more likely to be younger, are far more likely to be first-time purchasers and more likely to be planning for an increase in the family size — adding kids. Of the three groups, they are the least likely to be early adopters of new home appliances or gadgets. That’s just not a high priority. And, although they express concerns about environmental issues, statistically they are much less willing to pay for environmentally friendly products in connection with their homes.
What type of homebuyer are you?
Kenneth Harney is a nationally syndicated columnist on real estate for the Washington Post Writers Group. His column, the “Nation’s Housing,” appears in cities across the country and has received numerous professional awards, including multiple Best Column-All Media awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors and the Consumer Federation of America’s Consumer Media Service Award for “invaluable and unique contributions to the advancement of consumer housing interests.”