What homebuyers want

Energy efficiency and open plans are at the top of the list

The housing downturn has changed the way buyers look at homes. Post-recession homebuyers aren’t wishing for bigger lots, multiple master bedrooms or exclusive living rooms anymore. Instead, they want to spend their money on energy-efficient features, open floor plans and smart storage.

A new survey by the National Association of Home Builders released in March examines what homeowners absolutely want in their homes and what they are willing to forego in light of the current economic realities. The survey findings are expected to shape the way homes are built in the future.

“Before the recession, there was an increase demand for dual master bedrooms,” says Stephen Melman, a director at NAHB.

“People are now more concerned about high-quality design and how to run a household more efficiently. They are not willing to spend money on extra space if they don’t need it.” The survey lists these factors as most important to homebuyers now:

 Energy efficiency: Energy Starrated appliances and windows are at the top of the wish list, as well as new homes with the Energy Star label. Nine out of 10 buyers would rather buy a home with energy-efficient features and permanently lower utility bills than one without those features that costs 2 percent to 3 percent less.

 Organization and storage: Homeowners want to manage their homes efficiently, and they want help with organization and storage. Efficient laundry rooms, a linen closet in the bathroom, garage storage and a walk-in pantry were among the features mostly desired.

 Open living rooms and dining rooms: Survey respondents also indicated a preference open spaces that encourage family time. “They would rather have fewer walls with open areas where the family interacts,” Melman says.

— Madhusmita Bora

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