New surveys are revealing some of the features that new-home buyers say are becoming a “must-have.”

“Consumers today aren’t just looking for the biggest house on the block. They’re looking for more efficient use of space and a greater area allocated to ‘workhorse’ spaces, like the kitchen,” Ryan Marshall, PulteGroup’s executive vice president of homebuilding operations, marketing, and sales, said about findings from a recent survey of buyer wish lists. “Home buyers want unique features and amenities and will do what it takes to find the home they truly want, even if they have to pay more for a move-in ready home.”

Here are a few of the amenities home buyers say are must-haves:

  • Spacious closets: Builders and remodelers in a recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders say that walk-in closets in the master bedroom are the single most requested amenity from home buyers and owners. Indeed, 31 percent of 1,000 home owners surveyed by PulteGroup said they would sacrifice another household feature in order to have his-and-hers closets in the master bedroom.
  • Fancier laundry rooms: Home buyers are searching for laundry rooms with skylights, built-in ironing boards, extra space for folding clothes, storage, and upgraded appliances, according to NAHB’s survey of 400 home builders. “A good walk-in closet or laundry room might not be sexy, but they do make a household run better. And what’s the point of moving to a [newly built] home if it’s not going to make your life easier?” notes Stephen Melman of NAHB’s survey and housing research division.
  • Greater energy efficiency: Home buyers are looking to cut utility costs, and they want everything to have greater energy efficiency, from features like low-e windows and programmable thermostats to Energy Star appliances.
  • Nine-foot ceilings: Home buyers are looking for higher ceilings on the first floor. The standard for a new-home is eight feet, but buyers are increasingly asking builders to stretch higher. The higher ceilings can help open up living rooms, dining rooms, and other shared spaces, builders note.

Meanwhile, the NAHB survey also uncovered some formerly must-have features that have lost their appeal over the years. For example, buyers nowadays say they can live without a cathedral ceiling in a family room, sunrooms, and outdoor fireplaces and kitchens.

Source: “What’s Hot and What’s Not in New-Home Amenities,” Construction Dive (Dec. 18, 2014)