A Personal Home Buying Experience

Adding options to a home is an important factor in the homebuilding process
By Carina Calhoun

Recently, homebuilder Taylor Morrison unveiled new home designs with dog amenities that will be offered in selected communities. In the announcement, Taylor Morrison’s chief customer officer, Graham Hughes, said, “We know pets hold a special place in our homebuyers’ hearts, and that was the impetus for ensuring we had amenities to help make not only the care of pets easier, but to provide pets with amenities that keep them active and healthy.”

The Arizona-based homebuilder joins Drees Custom Homes, Friendswood Development, PulteGroup, Gehan Homes and other builders in designing homes and communities that cater to people with pets.

The announcement brought to light the impact homebuilders can have on potential owner’s personal lives. More and more, homebuilders are including amenities, features, options and details that allow homebuyers to move in to a home customized to their lifestyle. As homebuilders continue to offer these elements—it begs the question: is it production homebuilding or “personal” homebuilding?

There is no doubt this is an incentive for homebuyers. According to the latest statistics from the National Association of Realtors, millennials comprise the largest generational group purchasing homes. At approximately 35 percent, buyers 35 years and younger lead the pack with a median age of 30 years old. The millennial generation heavily impacts the homeownership and home sales. Since these buyers represent the biggest pool of buyers, it’s important to evaluate what features these purchasers want to see in a home.

Among these features are home office space, technology or sustainable features and an open floor plan concept. Additionally, when it comes to certain interior features, many are willing to spend thousands of dollars above the price of the home to have them included. At least 60 percent of buyers said they would be willing to pay more for central air conditioning, new kitchen appliances and a walk-in closet in the master bedroom if they did not already have these features.

In addition, home buyers are looking for bigger (think three-car or more) garages. They’re using the extra space in garages, not for an extra car, but for storage. Of those, 32 percent considered garage storage as a must-have area in the home.

Homebuilders are meeting the demand for the details. For example, national homebuilders like KB Home, Toll Brothers, Ryland Homes and Meritage Homes offer home buyers a design studio to choose the details of their home from flooring, countertops and cabinets to paint colors and appliances. Larry T. Nicholson, President and CEO of Ryland Homes said in a previous interview with Builder & Developer, “Ryland Homes selects each floor plan and home design carefully to ensure that it will appeal to a homebuyer’s needs. This experience allows us to provide families of all sizes with the home of their dreams at an affordable price.”

So, what makes a house a home? To homebuyers, it is all in the details. A home is an investment in their future; it is one of the most personal decisions they can make in their lives. That is why homebuilders need to accommodate all lifestyles and interests. From the family that wants to entertain, to the first-time buyers that have a parent living with them, these lifestyles demand very different elements to a home. It’s called functional modern living. Homebuyers want a home that inspires them and includes dramatic design features that suit their individual taste. After all, everyone has a distinctive sense of style.

Perhaps one of the most wanted features in a home these days is energy efficiency. Cost savings—not environmental impact—played a major role in making energy efficiency a desirable characteristic, as 67 percent of homebuyers in a recent survey from the U.S. Census Bureau said they were concerned about the home’s impact on the environment, but would not pay more for it. However, 73 percent agreed that projected utility costs would influence their purchase decision. On average, home buyers were willing to pay $7,095 more for a home that would save them $1,000 a year in utility costs.

Homebuilders, developers and architects have the unique opportunity to touch a human life because they deliver one of the most personal elements to their life—a home. A homes is where memories are made, families grow, holidays are spent and so much more. There is no other location of which a person will feel more comfortable. For this reason, and the fact that it is commonly the single most expensive purchase people will make in their lives, adding options to a home is an important factor in the homebuilding process.

Carina Calhoun is the Editor-at-Large for Builder and Developer magazine. She may be reached at ccarina@penpubinc.com.


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