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Housing Trends: What Homebuyers Want

If you’re wondering what homebuyers want in a new home, look no further than the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual Characteristics of New Housing Report. Released in June 2015, the report is a gold mine for residential contractors, developers and restoration specialists, offering detailed data on popular home features, home sales trends and multifamily data for last year.

The latest numbers show single-family buyers want more bedrooms, more bathrooms and bigger garages – a reflection of the housing markets’ saturation of second-, third- and fourth-time buyers, who generally have better credit. But, last years’ homebuyers didn’t just want bigger homes, they also wanted amenities like air-conditioning, managed landscaping and outdoor living space.

Here are highlights of the 2014 Annual Characteristics of New Housing report, as well as a few trends that gained traction in the housing market over the past year:

Single-Family Homes

Of the 620,000 single-family homes completed in 2014, 83 percent of single-family homes were larger than 1,800 square feet and 55 percent of the homes were larger than 2,400 square feet – which means most homes sold in the US continue to be large, detached and growing bigger each year.

4+ Bedrooms

Nearly half (46 percent) of all single-family homes built last year were built with four or more bedrooms – 12 percent higher than at the housing market’s most recent low in 2009 and up from 44 percent in 2013.

3+ Bathrooms

Only four percent, or 25,000, homes built in 2014 had one and one-half bathrooms or less, whereas 221,000 (33 percent) homes had three or more bathrooms.

Three-Car Garage

Two-car garages remain the norm for new home buyers and builders, but they’re receding in popularity. In fact, the number of homes built with two-car garages has decreased over the past year to 62 percent – two percentage points down from 2013 – while the market for three-car garages is on the upswing.

Patios

Outdoor living space is a homebuyers dream, but new buyers are getting picky when it comes to what type of outdoor area they want. While decks, patios and porches all deliver outdoor space, they are not created equally. Lower building and maintenance costs make patios more attractive – so attractive in fact that homes built with patios rather than porches or decks increased to 20 percent in 2014 from 17 percent in 2013.

Patio

Multi-Family Housing

Apartments are getting smaller, much smaller. More than half (66 percent) of the 292,000 multifamily units built in 2014 measure in at only 1,199 square feet, and a whopping 38 percent are smaller than 1,000 square feet – a big difference from the average apartment in 2011 at 1,200 to 1,799 square feet in area.

Homeowners Associations (HOA)

A newly tracked statistic, as recent as 2009, shows that buyers and builders are continually growing a fondness for homeowners associations. The number of homes included in HOAs in 2014 ranks in at 58 percent — up one percent from 2013 and 12 percent from 2009.

While the demand for larger homes has increased over the past years, so has the demand for smaller, more affordable housing – but that’s not where the money was for builders in 2014. Experts predict that as more entry-level buyers hit the market in the coming years, these trends should abate to make room for a new generation of homeowners and create a market shift for builders and general contractors.

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