Extended ceilings. Bedrooms converted into lofts. Large windows that perfectly frame mountain views. Forget the one-size-fits-all new home. Buyers today want choices — beyond traditional options for fixtures and finishes — and builders are answering the call.
“Flexibility is key”
“We’ve seen a trend toward buyers wanting more personalization and customization,” said Dennis Webb, vice president of operations for Fulton Homes. “The floor plans of 10 years ago don’t work for today’s buyers. Flexibility is key.”
The trend toward more customization has evolved over the past decade, driven by a few key factors, Webb said. They include:
In previous year, a new-home buyer was generally a married couple with children — and that meant fairly predictable preferences. Today’s buyers run the gamut from singles to multi-generational families, meaning wants and needs vary greatly.
Freedom to choose
Consumers are accustomed to finding a range of options online, whether shoe-shopping or picking out a new car. They bring that expectation to the home-buying process, looking for flexibility in floor plan design as well as features like cabinets and flooring. Beyond that, buyers are exposed to endless possibilities for creating a unique and personalized home thanks to the do-it-yourself movement. Buyers often expect the builder to incorporate their ideas into their new homes.
Depending on the builder, new-home buyers will find multiple floor plans, a host of structural options within the floor plans, and expanded offerings in design centers. What’s more, Rob McGibney, regional general manager for KB Home Arizona, said KB Home surveys buyers at closing about sought-after options to stay ahead of the curve.
Plenty of possibilities
Here's what is popular in new homes today:
Buyers often want the flexibility to convert two small bedrooms into a dual master bedroom or a guest suite. They also like the option of making each bedroom in the home en-suite [with its own private bathroom].
Not surprisingly, buyers often prefer more bathrooms and ask about what it takes to convert a powder room into a full bath. They also are looking for larger spa-like bathrooms.
Wish lists run the gamut from professional-quality appliances to wine storage options to spacious walk-in pantries.
Most buyers today love the seamless look of sliding glass doors to bring the outdoors in. Cozy interior courtyards and extended patio covers enhance indoor/outdoor living and entertaining options. “A courtyard next to the living room with a wall of disappearing glass makes the house that much bigger,” Webb said.
Styles that impress.
Extended ceilings and taller front doors are both popular features that make a statement.
“There is a real focus today on energy-efficiency and technology,” McGibney said. Buyers interested in boosting energy-efficiency can take advantage of window upgrades or perhaps solar technology. Builders are also offering a range of smart-home packages, giving buyers choices such as programmable thermostats, water leak sensors, built-in USB ports and security cameras among numerous other options.
What to ask your builder
Buyers should ask their new-home builder about no-cost options that can help personalize a home, McGibney said. That could mean everything from a design choice in flooring and cabinet colors or structural options such as eliminating a wall or a room conversion.
Budget-conscious buyers will also want to ask about options that make sense now — such as adding a bedroom — rather than facing a costly project in the future, he added. Builders say homebuyers’ desire for customizing is a trend that’s here to stay. “We don’t see it getting any less popular,” Webb said. “They don’t want to settle and they shouldn’t have to.”