NAHB: Quality, Not Quantity, On Consumers’ Minds

by WOHe

NAHB: Quality, Not Quantity, On Consumers’
Minds


LAS VEGAS Asked to envision what the typical new home of the future
will be like, most home builders predict an increased focus on
high-quality, high-end amenities, including maintenance-free
materials and automated systems that incorporate greater
technology.

That’s the word from the National Association of Home Builders
(NAHB), the Washington, DC trade association that conducted its
annual International Builders Show here in January.

“One thing that builders see happening is a stabilization of
new-home size, with few predicting they’ll be building
substantially larger homes during the next five to 10 years,” said
NAHB president Gary Garczynski. Instead, he noted, builders are
evenly divided in saying they’ll either be building a slightly
larger home than they are now, or a somewhat smaller home than the
current 2,300-sq.-ft. median.

“The new focus is going to be on quality rather than quantity,”
said Garczynski. “Builders see home-buyers increasingly demanding
energy-efficient designs, structural wiring for high-speed Internet
access, home office space, automated home security, multi-line
phone systems and programmable climate control systems,” Garczynski
added. “There’s also a growing emphasis on high-quality finishes
and materials that minimize the time it takes to keep homes clean
and functioning properly. These features are expected to become
fairly standard in new homes of all sizes.”

The NAHB findings contain relevance to residential remodelers
including kitchen and bath specialists as well as builders, since
new-home design trends and consumer buying preferences are often
mirrored in the remodeling sector.

NAHB surveys confirm that people who purchased a home in 2002,
or who plan to purchase a home in the next two years, are looking
for many of the same traditionally upscale features, whether they
are in the mid- or higher-price ranges of the market. For example,
most surveyed consumers identified a built-in microwave, a walk-in
pantry, an island work area and a laundry room as
kitchen-area-related “must-haves,” the NAHB reported. Separate
showers and white bathroom fixtures were “preferred” features,
while eat-in table space in the kitchen was viewed as “necessary,”
the association added.

“Because home-buyer preferences tend to be dictated by each
family’s lifestyle, demographic data that reveals a shift in the
size and composition of households over the years can be extremely
useful for determining the future of home designs,” Garczynski
observed.

He cited Census Bureau data that points to a growing percentage
of non-traditional households, such as those comprised of married
couples without children, single-person households and non-family
households.

“Between 1970 and 2000, the percentage of households comprised
of couples without children rose from 17% to 25.5%,” Garczynski
noted. “Meanwhile, the traditional household with children has
declined dramatically, from 40.3% of the total, to just under
24.1%. These and other changes in household structure result in
different priorities for homebuyers with regard to the number and
size of rooms, and the layout of the floor plan.

“Household wealth has also grown substantially in the last 30
years, and this is another factor in why more households are
demanding high-grade appliances and other amenities across the
housing market,” Garczynski said. “Home buyers today expect more
and get more for their dollar than in times
past.”.

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