February 21, 2022
Good news for lighting showrooms and electrical distributors, according to data compiled by the National Home Builders Association (NAHB). In addition to the demand for more space, brought on by pandemic home-centric lifestyles, among the top requests that builders are receiving from home buyers of all age groups are for exterior lighting and ceiling fans.
Increased desire for bigger homes, suburban locations, and more outdoor amenities are driving new home design, resulting in a rise in the average size of a new home to 2,524 square feet, and the percentage of new homes with 4+ bedrooms and 3+ full bathrooms to 46% and 34%, respectively.
These interests vary across generations and are primarily driven by Millennials and Gen Xers — 36% and 34%, respectively, of whom noted their housing preferences have changed because of the pandemic. In addition to wanting more space and more bedrooms, Millennials and Gen Xers are also looking for homes with Modern or Contemporary exteriors designed for multiple generations. Other changes include an interest in exercise rooms and home offices, as well as designated bike lanes in their communities.
“With this data, you immediately see that younger buyers have been impacted by the pandemic more than older generations,” said Rose Quint, NAHB Assistant VP/Survey Research during a press conference at the 2022 International Builders’ Show, held in Orlando this month.
Only 18% of baby boomers, on the other hand, noted a change in their preferences. Baby Boomers are interested in smaller homes on smaller lots, preferably in the suburbs. They also have an eye toward energy efficiency, particularly energy-efficient lighting and ENERGY STAR®-listed appliances and whole home certification.
Quint attributes the greater interest in energy-efficient features to the Baby Boomers’ past experience with homeownership. “Boomers have likely owned a home before and understand the costs of heating and cooling a home,” she noted.
Certain home features resonated with all generations, however. The top five are:
- Laundry rooms
- Exterior lighting
- Ceiling fans
- Walk-in pantries
The percentage of single-family homes with patios has risen to 63% as more emphasis has been placed in outdoor living in recent years. Home buyers across generations have also noted interest in exterior living, with Millennials indicating a specific interest in front porches as well.
“I love the fact that styles are cyclical, and that front porches are becoming popular again,” shared Allison Paul, principal at international architectural and planning firm Lessard Design, headquartered in Virginia. “People want to be outdoors.”
Paul highlighted numerous examples of popular features and the variety of ways builders can integrate them into their homes. Whether it’s an open kitchen with a kitchen island as a central focus, an elaborate home office that doubles as a hobby space, or simply a corner niche for basic exercise equipment to create a compact home gym, there are lots of creative ways to enhance homes to meet buyers’ growing preferences.
“I think we can create communities that have a really good mix of larger single-family homes, smaller single-family homes, and detached living at a variety of price points to meet these varying interests,” Paul suggested.