The Future of Home Design Revealed in New Report

By on April 18, 2019

By Phillip B. Burum

I chose to celebrate National New Home Month in April by sharing the benefits of new home ownership with all of you. I am hopeful that you will choose to celebrate and support the importance of this month by buying your very first, or second, or third new home.

There is an abundance of material on line, including several articles that share this article’s byline, that describe the many benefits of owning a home and an equivalent amount that advocate for new homes versus resale. Most of the comparison themes that you will find in those writings will describe the safety, the environmental benefits and the energy efficiency of new homes. What is not discussed often is the research and development that goes into the design of the aesthetic features of a new home.

All too often, city planners, department heads, and other city officials, both elected and appointed, find themselves as the arbiter of the final design of a proposed new home. These discussions are all almost always well intentioned and most builders I know take them on good faith, but the premise of the discussion always strikes me as odd. Homebuilders, especially America’s largest builders, spend millions of dollars every year to confirm what buyers want in their new home. Builders take this question very seriously so the thought of requiring modifications of specific architectural details or floor plan configurations that have been thoroughly vetted by the homebuying public is baffling to me. If a surgeon were proposing removal of an appendix, would these same people mandate a specific surgical technique or scaring pattern?

To build tomorrow’s home today, homebuilders go to great lengths to gather and analyze data from past, current and future homebuyers. In February, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) released survey results gathered from nearly 4,000 home buyers who have either recently purchased a home or plan to purchase a home within the next three years. These surveys ranked 175 different features buyers considered essential to a home purchasing decision.

The 300-page report titled What Home Buyers Really Want (2019 edition) reveals that today’s buyers are currently seeking a wider range of housing opportunities and more affordable options. This means that today’s homebuyers will find a greater selection of townhomes and more compact single-family detached homes that consume less space and less energy. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2018 the average home started was 2,576 square feet – down from its peak at 2,689 square feet three years ago.

NAHB’s survey even studied the various types and locations of homes desired by buyers and factored in generational differences. According to the report, when citing overall homebuyer preferences, the suburbs are the most desirable home location. Millennials, however, tend to favor homes located in a central city.

Inside the home, the most desired features are upstairs laundry rooms and energy-saving features such as Energy Star-rated appliances along with home-storage amenities such as garage storage and walk-in pantries. Heavily favored finishing specifications include hardwood flooring and exterior lighting.

Emerging floor plan trends include more open kitchens and dining rooms and more than half of home buyers desired indoor air quality features such as a home dehumidification system, an electronic air cleaner and use of low volatile organic compound (VOC) materials. According to the survey, home buyers would prefer smart-home technology features and several green options versus the non-green alternative such as features and finishes made from longer-lasting materials.

Please notice that the driving trends noted above are about comfort and efficiency. Nowhere in the survey did a homeowner report that they wished there was just one more shutter on the home’s exterior or a bit more articulation in the rooflines of the rear of the home.

Today’s buyers want a home they can afford and a home that they can be comfortable in. There is an affordability crisis in the Baldy View Region today. We can resolve that crisis in part if builders are permitted to build what the buyers want and can afford.

The BIA Baldy View Chapter seeks to advance the opportunity to attain the American Dream of home ownership. For additional information on home buying or the benefits of homeownership, go to on the web.


Phillip B. Burum is Vice President-Land at D.R. Horton and Board President for the Building Industry Association (BIA) Baldy View Chapter.