A new survey from the NAHB found laundry rooms and energy-saving features topped buyers' must-have lists.
If you're looking to draw in buyers this year, start in the laundry room.
According to the latest What Home Buyers Really Want (2019 edition) survey from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), laundry rooms and energy-saving features such as Energy Star appliances, energy-efficient windows and whole house green certification are among the most wanted home features.
The data, collected from a survey of nearly 4,000 home buyers—those who have either recently purchased a home or plan to purchase a home within the next three years—ranked 175 features based on how essential they are to a home purchasing decision.
The top 10 features also included home-storage needs, such as garage storage and walk-in pantries, plus hardwood flooring, a patio and exterior lighting.
Buyers are also selecting smaller homes, a result of higher home prices and tightening affordability. The NAHB noted a continued decline in the average home size since 2016 and decreased demand for upscale features such as three-plus-car garages. (Read more about garage trends here).
In 2018, according to information from the U.S. Census Bureau, the average new-construction home declined to 2,576 square feet—down from its peak at 2,689 square feet in 2015—driven in part by increased production in townhouses, which comprised 14% of new home starts.
"Builders are trying to meet demand where it's hottest, and that is at the lower price points," Rose Quint, AVP of survey research at NAHB. "To that end, they are building more townhomes and smaller detached homes. Townhomes take up less land, and that automatically brings the price down."
Location also matters to buyers. According to the report, suburbs are the most desirable home location (64%), followed by a rural setting (24%) and the central city (11%). Millennials are the most likely to want to buy a home in an urban hub (23%), compared to Gen X buyers (11%), baby boomers (8%) or seniors (3%).
In the kitchen, open floor plans still reign supreme. Eighty-six percent of home buyers prefer their kitchen and dining room to be completely or partially open. Top finishes include stainless steel appliances (67%), granite or natural stone kitchen countertops (57%), and white kitchen cabinetry (32%).
Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz, shared similar findings from its consumer research for kitchens and master bathrooms at a press event during the 2019 International Builders' Show this week.
"White upon white is the new style that is emerging," she stated, in terms of cabinets and countertops in both the kitchen and bath, as well as gray on white.
Builders should also keep their eye on rising trends, including: farmhouse styles with ample amounts of wood; engineered quartz countertops; vinyl and resilient flooring; wireless controls; open interior and exterior spaces in the kitchen; and higher-end fixture installations in the bathroom, such as wall-mounted sinks, faucets and toilets.