Home Buyers wish list – top ten new home feature trends for 2020.

Dated: November 10 2019

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Home Buyers wish list – top ten new home feature trends for 2020.

Gregg Fous is a top producing real estate broker associate with EXP Realty, LLC, currently the second largest brokerage in the US. Fous leads a team specializing in new and second home sales. He can be reached at Gregg@FousRealEstate.com 239-851-5464

Following are Gregg’s list of top ten features that home buyers are looking for in a new home. This list is composed with anecdotal evidence, not scientific. But the author visited and interviewed buyers and sales agents over the past year.

1.       The high performance home.    I much prefer this term to the overused and abused, and unregulated: “Green Home”  designation. In a high-performance home all aspects of the construction, appliances, mechanicals are high performance.  High performance homes are air tight, energy misers, with low consumption of electricity and water, well designed windows and lighting, durable components that demand little of no maintenance,  and will have a long life. High performance homes may be built with insulated concrete forms (steel reinforced expanded styrene block filled with concrete – also called ICF) with long lasting metal or tile roofs with spray-in foam under the roof. They will have conditioned air above the ceilings and high seer, high velocity AC units or indeed ductless AC units.  A high performance home does not just have a superior HERS rating ( See link on HERS explanation) but long life, low maintenance components through-out.

2.       Smaller homes.  Todays architects are using techniques like window placement, better lighting and innovative use of space to make smaller homes appear and actually live larger. They know that buyers want big bathrooms, large closets, and smaller homes. They want a destination not a cubby hole, so transitions to outdoor space and well windowed homes are important. Better use of space through flexible use of rooms is important. Wall mounting of very thin TV’s has allowed the entertainment rooms to be smaller. Eliminating a seldom used bathtub and adding a glass surround to the shower has given the appearance of larger baths. Air handlers are removed from the floor plan and moved to the conditioned air space in the attics freeing up more square footage. Foyers and hallways have been blended together. If a buyer opens the front door and sees a well-lit rear window area or focal point at the other side of the home he will feel an increased size appearance of the home without the actual added square footage.  A smaller home is a smart home as well.  Easier to clean, maintain, and less expensive to buy. Color choices, use of focal points, use of angles in walls, and ceiling height all effect the look and feel of a smartly designed home. Less square footage means less of everything, including cost. Today’s buyers are looking for more efficient space and flexible use of existing space; an office that doubles as a guest room for example, and the elimination of the formal dining room. Furniture designed for multiple use is becoming more popular as well.

3.       Open Space.  Open space has been popular for quite some time and ties well with a smaller home desire.  Smart builders have as added 90 degree sliders, window walls, and more sliding doors to add flexibility not only in the use of the space, but to add the out-side to the inside of the homes, and make smaller homes live and appear bigger.

4.       More outdoor living space. As homes get smaller buyers are also looking for outdoor features like patios, outdoor kitchen and quiet nooks in the shade that are outside the home. Pools, Swim spas, and fire pits are more popular than ever. Use of window walls and 90 degree sliders mentioned above enhance the home even more.

5.       Storage.  Our cars are getting smaller but our need for garage space exceeds the need to park two cars that often get pushed into the driveway to make room for the accumulated “Stuff” home-owners possess.  Extended garage width and length or even a flexible indoor but non conditioned space in the garage has made homes designed with these features very popular, especially in states like Florida that have no basements.  I also see the demand for walk in pantries, and over-sized inside storage space. Pulte Homes “get it” with the flexible design options in their Summerwood home. (Click here to see these features in a easy to modify floorplan. Pay close attention to the tandem garage space that can either be put into a larger walk in closet in the MBR or a third car or a work shop in the garage, or eliminated and be added as an additional room inside the house. Very smart design option here.)

6.       Age in Place features.  Particularly in demand here in Florida, buyers are looking for features that will allow owners to stay in the home as they age.   These features include: No step entries, an existing (or planned space for a future) elevator, wide open floor plans (no obstructions), larger windows and doors, future ramp placement consideration, sound and smart lighting systems and considerate bath and kitchen design.

7.       Security and the “bunker mentality” and the smart home. Hurricane and burglar proof homes that are a sound fortress and secure from unwanted entry by wind as well as unwanted visitors are in high demand. Stand inside an ICF home and you will feel like you are living in a fortress.  These homes keep sound out extremely well and have virtually zero air infiltration, making the home owner feel safe and secure. Smart builders are also adding all the current electronics in a flexible manner (So as technology changes you can easily modify your home). All these features are accessible with a phone app and include remote control of your homes features like thermostats, garage doors, lighting, sound systems and locks.

8.       Destination Attitude.   This is more about the home itself being a retreat and destination in itself, but I am also talking about the location in an amenities-rich community – be it a downtown environment or a gated community. The home should never be a place that you come to and want to leave right away.  “All the comforts of home” applies here to the level of comfort the home-owner gets when he is home. Be it a quiet retreat that caters to his needs, or a music room, a great TV area, or a place to entertain and bring guests, cook a great meal, or putter in her craft room. My idea of the perfect home is where the homeowners say things like, “I would rather be here than anywhere else.  Now that is a successful home design!  (By the way, I said exactly this to my wife last night as we were having a cocktail by our firepit outside in our bakyard as Fort Myers temps got below 55 last night! My other statement I make often is, “People pay to be doing what we are doing right here, right now!”)

9.       Home offices.   Ever since I joined EXP Realty and their virtual campus (see a cool video about the virtual campus here) I have seen, and  experienced,  the future of work and I whole- heartedly believe that the resurgence of the home office is upon us. Just like when I realized how cool shopping on Amazon was and there-after whenever I saw a retail store, I thought about the diminished need for brick and mortar retail, now,  whenever I see an office building, I have similar thought about the office buildings demise. As far as home design trends: I believe you will see; separate or easy access to the office from the outside (office door near the front door, for example). The home office wired differently, for example:  a large closet with electricity for a copier and router etc., USB charging stations and lighting and windows thought out well for workspace.  Of course, the home office can be flex space, but todays home buyers are looking for easy and frictionless connectivity from their homes.

10.   Price and Cost to own. Home buyers today want it all (haven’t they always?).  They want a feature loaded home that they can afford to buy and afford to own. They not only look for payments that are easy to manage (Low price AND low interest rates) they are looking for low cost to maintain and keep up.  Low energy costs, low water bills, little to paint, fix, or replace.

If you want to see homes designed and built for today’s buyers, call me.



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Gregg Fous

Real estate has been my passion since I took my first Al Lowery class on real estate investing in the 1970’s. I vowed during that class that I would buy one property a year. Over the next five ....

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