Age Clearly Impacts Preferences in Home Size

Age Clearly Impacts Preferences in Home Size

Findings from the latest NAHB study on housing preferences, Housing Preferences of the Boomer Generation: How They Compare to Other Home Buyers, shows there are some similarities and differences in what home buyers of different generations want in terms of square footage and number of bedrooms in a new home.

When asked how much finished space they would like to have, home buyers in general reported wanting a median of 2,020 square feet, about 9% more space than they currently have (1,859 sq. ft.). Age plays a key role in desired home size, however. Buyers in the Millennial and Gen X generations both want homes over 2,300 square feet, whereas Boomers and Seniors would like homes under 1,900 square feet. As the figure below shows, there is a large gap between current and desired home size among the younger cohorts, while Boomers and Seniors either live in their ideal home size already or would like to downsize a bit.

When it comes to the number of bedrooms, about half of all home buyers would like to have three in a new home, while a nontrivial 30 percent would rather have four or more. The two youngest generations have strikingly different preferences when compared to the oldest two: whereas 48 percent of Millennials and 43 percent of Gen X’ers would like to see at least four bedrooms in a new home, that share is only 20 percent among Boomers and Seniors. For these generations, three bedrooms is the way to go, as half or more report that as their first preference.

This blog post is part of a series exploring findings from Housing Preferences of the Boomer Generation: How They Compare to Other Home Buyers, the first of which can be found here. A more complete article on the findings is also available here.

Millennials Will Shape Housing Preferences

The millennial generation is poised to make a significant impact on home design with its strong preferences for energy efficiency and smart-home technology; comfortable and workable kitchens; and more casual spaces, said speakers today from NAHB and Better Homes and Gardens.

But first, they have to move out of their parents’ homes and into a place of their own, said NAHB Assistant Vice President for Surveys and Research Rose Quint. About 15% of adults ages 25-34 live with a parent, about 3% more than the highest share of 12% between 1983 and 2007. That translates into 1.3 million people who normally “would be out there, forming their own households, demanding their own units,” either as buyers or renters, she said.

Quint had anticipated the new mortgage programs and looser mortgage insurance requirements that were unveiled a year ago would have led to an increase in consumers buying homes for the first time. But a look at the size of the typical new single-family home in 2015 found the opposite: home sizes grew to an average of 2,721 square feet, the highest yet, and an indication that the new-home market continues to be dominated by move-up buyers, rather than first-time buyers.

“Before we see that expected pullback in square footage and price, we’re going to have to see a significant return of the first-time buyer,” who is more likely to buy a smaller home at a lower price point, Quint said.

This year, home buyers say they are looking for homes with separate laundry rooms, Energy Star-rated appliances and windows, exterior lighting and a patio.

What they don’t want are rooms with cork flooring, elevators, pet washing stations, expansive outdoor kitchens and fireplaces, and two-story entryways and family rooms. And their countertops should be granite, but never laminate, according to a fall 2015 survey of potential buyers.

In terms of house type, buyers want a detached, single-family home: 65% of all buyers and 68% of millennials expressed that preference. That number rises to 72% among Gen-Xers (born between 1965 and 1979) but falls somewhat to 55% of those born before 1945, Quint said.

Better Homes and Gardens Brand Executive Editor Jill Waage echoed Quint’s findings on preferences for well-equipped kitchens and casual, comfortable living spaces – especially outdoor living rooms, where millennials want to entertain their families and friends.

What’s important about this generation is their comfort with technology. Millenials are “leading the way on this,” Waage said. “They are the first generation to walk into homeownership with a smartphone in their hands.”

These millennials want to use technology to make entertainment choices easier, monitor the comings and goings of packages, repairmen and their children, and improve their health and well-being. When it comes to product choices, “they’ve read the ratings, comments and reviews, and they know what it’s worth,” and have probably created a Google alert so they know when it’s on sale, she said.

Their home improvement preferences center on home organization and workspaces, as the separation between working in an office and telecommuting continues to blur.

“This generation is searching out ideas, following bloggers,” and creating Pinterest boards with their preferences, Waage said. “They’ve already curated their dream home online, saving it on their boards so they can [be ready] when the day finally comes.”

NAHB Reveals Most Popular Features Found in New Homes

During New Homes Month in April, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is sharing with home buyers the most popular features in new single-family homes in 2014. Builders from across the country were surveyed on what features they were most likely to include in a typical single-family home this year, revealing that convenience, livability and energy efficiency are top priorities.

“Newly constructed homes can suit the specific requirements of today’s home buyers,” said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del. “And now is a great time to consider buying a new home, as consumers can take advantage of competitive home prices and low interest rates to find the perfect new home for their families.”

Home builders are including features that are practical and functional for the daily lives of today’s home buyers. The features that are most likely to be included in a typical single-family home this year are:

  • a walk-in closet in the master bedroom
  • low-e windows
  • a laundry room and
  • a great room.

Energy efficiency is a key theme with Energy-Star rated appliances, programmable thermostats and Energy-Star rated windows at the top of the list. These features help make the home more comfortable and can save the home owner significant money over the long term. On a median per square-foot basis, home owners spent 78 cents per square foot per year on electricity, while owners of new homes spent 65 cents per square foot per year, according to data from the 2009 American Housing Survey (AHS).

Builders also list features such as granite countertops, a double sink and a central island as winning elements in new-home kitchens, and a linen closet and a private toilet in the bathroom. Additional features likely to be included throughout the home include first-floor ceilings at least nine-feet high, a front porch, outdoor lighting and a patio.

Home buyers can access home buying and home building information and resources on NAHB’s website at

NAHB survey highlights key home buyer preferences

NAHB survey highlights key home buyer preferences

NAHB provides the most current and accurate information on home buyer preferences to help our members deliver the kind of homes and communities that are most desired by today’s consumers.

In a newly published special study on NAHB’s website, our economists take a close look at key findings from a recently completed, comprehensive association survey called “What Home Buyers Really Want.” Below are some important highlights of what they found.

  • Just over half of all home buyers surveyed said they would like to buy a brand new home –28% directly from a builder and 27% custom built on their own land — while 45% say an existing home is their first preference.
  • Buyers expect to pay about $203,900 for their next home.
  • Buyers want a home with a median of 2,226 square feet, which is about 17% larger than what they have now.
  • Approximately 25% of buyers say the size of the lot is not important when choosing a home.
  • Almost half (47%) want three bedrooms, while 32% want four bedrooms. Most (65%) prefer either 2 or 2.5 bathrooms.
  • Most (57%) prefer a single-story home; 31% prefer two stories.
  • A full or partial basement is something that 66% of buyers say they want.
  • About half (48%) of buyers who want a 2-story home want the master bedroom on the second floor, while 70% prefer to have the washer and dryer on the first floor.
  • Most buyers want a 2-car garage (53%), while 1 out of 5 buyers wants a 3+ car garage.
  • For 65% of buyers, the most influential characteristic when buying a home is “living space and number of rooms that meet their needs.”

When looking at most home components (including flooring, doors, kitchen countertops, cabinets and carpeting), buyers focus most on “quality” and “appearance.” However, when looking for appliances, the focus is primarily on “quality” and “brand name.”

To read the entire report on the study at, click here.

Data show homeowner preferences for newer neighborhoods

April is New Homes month. And while the benefits of new homes are typically thought of in terms of the house itself, neighborhoods of new homes are typically preferred by homeowners.

Citing data from the 2009 American Housing Survey, NAHB economists have developed another persuasive argument about why home buyers should give serious consideration to buying a new home in a new neighborhood rather than an existing home in an older community.

The analysis, presented in a recent post to the Eye on Housing blog, explains that, when asked to rank their neighborhood on a scale of 1 to 10, home owners have generally expressed a favorable view of their homes’ surroundings. But owners of newly constructed homes ranked their neighborhoods higher than did any other home owners. Specifically, the data show that more than 90% of owners of newly constructed homes ranked their neighborhoods as either a 9 or 10 on a scale of 1-10, versus just 65% of all home owners who ranked their neighborhoods as highly. Meanwhile, 68% of owners of newly built homes (defined as those constructed in the last four years) ranked their own homes as a 9 or a 10, versus 51% who did so among all home owners.