Today’s buyers want bigger and greener homes, study shows

New research shows that today's homebuyers want bigger and more energy efficient homes.

The burst housing bubble saw many homeowners seeking out smaller homes, but the average size of new home actually has grown over the past four years, from 2,362 square feet in 2009 to 2,679 square feet in 2013, according to Census Bureau data presented by the National Association of Home Builders at the 2014 International Builders’ Show.

Further, the percentage of new homes with at least four bedrooms has been trending upward since 2008, from 34 percent in 2009 to 48 percent in 2013. Homes with at least three full bathrooms (rising from 23 to 35 percent) and three-car garages (rising from 16 to 22 percent) have increased, too, between 2010 and 2013. The share of two-story single-family homes made up 60 percent of new-home starts in 2013.

“It will certainly continue at least the next 12 months as the land cost continue to appreciate,” says David Hawes, a real estate broker at Halstead Property in Darien, Conn. The cost of land remains considerably high even after the housing bust. Builders tend to build larger home to offset the high land costs and get more bangs for the buck by charging more.

Indeed, this increase in size and features leaded to a higher price tag. The median home price was $318,000 in 2013, up from $248,000 in 2009.

In addition, it shows buyers’ demands – many of them want a larger house, especially in a market that has seen fewer first-time homebuyers over the last few years, says Svenja Gudell, director of economic research at

With this tendency toward bigger homes, homebuilders expect energy-efficiency to also play an important role in the single-family housing market in 2014. According to an NAHB survey, the most popular environmentally features likely to be included in a typical single-family house in 2014 are Energy Star-rated appliances, programmable thermostats and low-emissivity/Energy Star-rated windows take higher ranks in the list.

© CTW Features

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