What Homebuyers Want

by Stephanie Sims

Whether a single-family home or condo, what are homebuyers looking for in their dream home?

According to the National Association of Home Builders’ “What Home Buyers Really Want” study, energy efficiency tops the list, followed by rooms with shelving and storage areas. At the top of the list homebuyers could care less for are elevators (which probably only apply to mansions), followed by a high density community or golf course neighborhood and no master bathtub in the master bathroom, just a shower stall.

These sought-after features are partly why new construction homes are gaining more buzz than resales – homebuyers can customize their home with energy-efficient appliances, a smarter floor plan that can help with energy efficiency as well as livabilty and brand new appliances in a newly built home will save a homeowner money on utility bills versus older inefficient ones that cost more to run.

In addition to the latest studies, developers PulteGroup and Related Midwest conduct their own research as to what homebuyers in their markets want.

“Consumers want open flow-through living and dining space ideal for entertaining and everyday living, and no wasted space typically found in older homes and more usable space where you spend the most time,” says Maria Wilhelm, director of sales and marketing for PulteGroup. “They want better storage.”

PulteGroup has compiled what it found from homebuyer demand and has started building each of its homes with what the company calls “flex space,” which are floorplans with the following features:

  • Expanded pathway through the most used entrance in the home
  • Drop zone for the things you don’t want cluttering up your living space
  • Washer and dryer relocated to dedicated laundry space
  • Leisure space off the bedroom that accommodates different morning and evening routines
  • An oversized pantry
  • An oversized laundry room – functional space dedicated to laundry to help keep it out of high-traffic areas in the home

Condo Buyers

Curt Bailey, president of Related Midwest, and his company did more than their fair share of research, too, leading up to the launch of the redevelopment of former Museum Campus buildings, now known as South Loop Luxury buildings. And, he said, the research was not what he was expecting – there was a large pent-up demand for new construction homes in the top neighborhoods in the city.

“That demand is in large part due to the limited product available after the downturn, when there were so few new homes being built,” Bailey says. “As a result, today’s buyers are extremely diligent when it comes to new construction because they want to make sure they make a smart decision in terms of who they buy from and where. Buyers want to feel good about buying a home, and they want to know they got a great price or value.”

After South Loop Luxury’s launch, Related Midwest sold more than 200 condominiums in eight months. Some of this was due to the benefits and amenities of the South Loop neighborhood, but some sales were due in part to the upgrades and amenities Related Midwest discovered buyers wanted – marble backsplashes, Snaidero cabinetry and professional Wolf, Bosch and Sub-Zero appliances.

“We did a tremendous amount of work to bring the buildings in line with what buyers want today,” Bailey says. “At the same time, we wanted to offer finishes that would stand the test of time and be just as desirable today as 10 years from now.”


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