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Home Trends 2010: Consumers’ Most Sought-after Features (Jack and Doranne Strama)

June 2, 2010
Jack and Doranne Strama, Buckhead Office, REALTOR®

Jack and Doranne Strama, Buckhead Office, REALTOR®

From: Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council, Inc.

Those dreams are closely examined by builders, architects and designers of home spaces. To survive the current economic downturn, these professionals must be highly attuned to which home features and preferences will prompt consumers to open their wallets. More than ever, staying in business requires appealing, economical housing solutions.

Buyer’s representatives, on the other hand, must listen to buyer-clients one at a time-understanding individual preferences and helping buyers find the home of their dreams.  That said, it’s also helpful for today’s REALTOR® to share their knowledge of larger consumer trends with their client.  Most buyers want to make sure the home they buy now will appeal to a future buyer once it’s time to sell.

To understand today’s housing trends, it’s helpful to first review some of the recent facts about the residential construction industry. Housing starts began declining in 2006 and have yet to show any significant rebound.

No matter how you look at the data, new homes are definitely smaller:

  • Homes with at least three bedrooms: down in 2009, for the first time since 1992.
  • Homes with four or more bedrooms: falling since 2007.
  • Homes with two or more stories: peaked in 2006 then began downward trend.

Even though today’s homes are smaller, builders, architects and designers insist that they don’t necessarily have to feel smaller. Indeed, some consumers actually prefer a smaller home, complaining that some houses had grown to excessive proportions.  Just like driving a Hummer carries a negative connotation in some circles, living in a space-wasting, energy-guzzling home is not desirable. Although homeowners still want the “wow” factor, builders are looking for ways to achieve that without breaking the bank.  That point was evident when the National Association of Home Builders surveyed builders earlier this year and learned that 9-foot ceilings on the first floor were one of builders’ top ten priorities in 2010.

There is a prime emphasis on good design that helps homes feel larger by raising overall ceiling height, adding more light through windows, and using space more efficiently.  “Efficiency” has become a buzz word in the industry for virtually every aspect of new homes. Its has meant the death of the two-story family room atrium.  Instead, the trend is now towards one-story multi-functional space. Kitchens, eating areas and family rooms are open and connected, catering to busy families that want optimal useable living space from their home.  Food prep, entertaining, homework and relaxing can all be accommodated in a cohesive layout that relies on strategically placed architectural details or area rugs to define where one area begins and another ends. Storage elements, including laundry spaces and mini mud rooms help bring much-desired order to life at home.

Still in demand: Master bedroom suites

Consumers are reluctant to give up full-featured master bedrooms.  You may not see multiple shower heads but most consumers still want the master bath to feel like a small oasis, providing features that are a significant step above other bathroom in the home.

What ‘s not on the list?

With affordability and efficiency in mind, what feature won’t be included?  Builders say that an outdoor kitchen is the first to go. Other features least likely to make the list are: an outdoor fireplace, a sunroom, a butler’s pantry and a media room.

10 Most Likely Features that builders will include in 2010:

1. Walk-in closet in master bedroom

2. Laundry Room

3. Insulated front door

4. Great Room

5. LOW-e Windows

6. Linen Closet

7. Programmable thermostat

8. Energy Efficient appliances and lighting

9. Separate Shower and Tub in master bedroom

10. 9-Foot Ceilings or higher on 1st floor

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