Buyers today want cost-effective architecture, plans that focus on spaces and not rooms and homes that are designed 'green' from the outset," she said. The key for home builders is "finding the balance between what buyers want and the price point."
For many buyers, their next house will be smaller than their current one, said Carol Lavender, president of the Lavender Design Group in San Antonio, Texas. Large kitchens that are open to the main family living area, old-fashioned bathrooms with clawfoot tubs and small spaces such as wine grottos are design features that will resonate today, she said.
"What we're hearing is 'harvest' as a home theme -- the feeling of Thanksgiving. It's all about family togetherness -- casual living, entertaining and flexible spaces," Lavender said.
Paul Cardis, CEO of AVID Ratings Co., which conducts an annual survey of home-buyer preferences, said there are 10 "must" features in new homes:
Large kitchens, with an island. "If you're
going to spend design dollars, spend them where people want them --
spend them in the kitchen," McCune said. Granite countertops are a must
for move-up buyers and buyers of custom homes, but for others "they are
on the bubble," Cardis said.
Energy-efficient appliances, high-efficiency insulation
and high window efficiency. Among the "green" features touted
in homes, these are the ones buyers value most, he said. While large
windows had been a major draw, energy concerns are giving customers
pause on those, he said. The use of recycled or synthetic materials is
only borderline desirable.
Home office/study. People would much rather
have this space rather than, say, a formal dining room. "People are
feeling like they can dine out again and so the dining room has become
tradable," Cardis said. And the home theater may also be headed for the
scrap heap, a casualty of the "shift from boom to correction," Cardis
Main-floor master suite. This is a must feature
for empty-nesters and certain other buyers, and appears to be getting
more popular in general, he said. That could help explain why demand for
upstairs laundries is declining after several years of popularity
Outdoor living room. The popularity of outdoor
spaces continues to grow, even in Canada, Cardis said. And the idea of
an outdoor room is even more popular than an outdoor cooking area,
meaning people are willing to spend more time outside.
Master suite soaker tubs. Whirlpools are still
desirable for many home buyers, Cardis said, but "they clearly went
down a notch," in the latest survey. Oversize showers with seating areas
are also moving up in popularity.
Stone and brick exteriors. Stucco and vinyl
don't make the cut.
Community landscaping, with walking paths and
playgrounds. Forget about golf courses, swimming pools and
clubhouses. Buyers in large planned developments prefer hiking among
- Two-car garages. A given at all levels; three-car garages, in which the third bay is more often than not used for additional storage and not automobiles, is desirable in the move-up and custom categories, Cardis said.