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American Housing Survey Provides Fascinating Glimpse at New-Home Shoppers

by Peter Thomas Ricci

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The latest American Housing Survey from the Census Bureau is a smorgasbord of information about new-home shoppers.

The American Housing Survey is conducted every two years by the U.S. Census Bureau, and every time the agency releases it they unleash a bevy of fascinating statistics regarding how the buyers of newly-built single-family homes differ from the wider homebuying public.

Because though the American Housing Survey is vast, covering 115 million housing units (both owner-occupied homes and rental units), it does specifically look at the U.S.’ 3.5 million “recent movers,” and the 311,000 movers who purchased a home built within the past four years.

American Housing Survey – How New-Home Shoppers Differ

Some of the more notable stats uncovered in the American Housing Survey included:

  • Though 17 percent of recent movers utilized Realtor.com in finding their home, only 10 percent of home shoppers who purchased new construction used the site’s services, suggesting an interesting divergence between new and existing homes on the site (the Internet, though, is the dominant form of home shopping for today’s consumers, as we’ve reported before).
  • Perhaps, though, some of those new-home shoppers were looking at more traditional mediums – only 3 percent of all recent movers used a daily newspaper to find their home, but 5 percent of new-home shoppers used the classic source for their home search.
  • Another huge difference between recent movers and new-home shoppers came in the reasons for their home purchase; 49 percent of new-home shoppers, compared to 33 percent of recent movers, valued room layout and design as the most critical element to their home search, with new-home shoppers valuing those characteristics over construction quality, appearance, yard and even financial reasons.
  • Quality of the home’s construction, though, was still quite important to new-home shoppers, with 29 percent saying it was a factor in their home choice (compared to just 15 percent of recent movers).
  • And finally, kitchens proved extremely influential on the decisions of new-home shoppers, with 16 percent factoring in the the culinary environments of their new property (compared to 9 percent of recent movers).

New Construction Aesthetics

So what’s the big takeaway from all this? That new-home shoppers have their own, unique set of interests and desires. From kitchens, to quality construction, to a natural, organic room layout and design, the American Housing Survey seems to suggest that aesthetics as just as important as function when it comes to new construction, and as the new construction market picks up in 2013 and 2014, it’ll be fascinating watching how these elements are put into practice by the nation’s homebuilders.

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