November 3, 2013

What do new home buyers want?

Great rooms top the list, with spa baths and more connectivity close behind.

By Debbie Arrington
Mcclatchy Newspapers

(Continued from page 1)

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A great room that’s a hub for family life and entertaining is first on home buyers’ lists of priorities. photos

Rather than McMansions, buyers today want homes in which the spaces reflect the way they actually live their lives.

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Building and buying still have a long ways to go to catch up with the pre-recession boom. During the downturn, new home construction in the area fell to a 50-year low. At its peak in 2004, about 17,000 new homes were sold in the Sacramento region, said the Gregory Group. Annual sales for the past 15 years average 8,765 new homes.

New inventory and new designs can help lure buyers back into the market.

Alicia Eckman of Rocklin and her mother, Sylvia Vining, recently toured the Manzanita models.

“Builders are getting smarter,” Eckman said. “They think about everything.”

Besides the great room, the women pointed to other thoughtful touches such as mud rooms (some with a dog-friendly shower to wash dirty paws) and “drop zones,” located near the entrance doors and designed to encourage organization.

“It gives you a place to drop your stuff right when you walk in,” Eckman said.

“I like the his-and-hers (walk-in) closets a lot!” Vining added of the master bedroom.

“In my home, I have very little storage space,” Eckman said. “Everything is in the garage. I liked the upstairs laundry room with the storage right there (near the bedrooms). How convenient! Boom, it’s done!”

“I love the little homework area tucked behind the kitchen,” Vining said of a computer nook. “You can still keep an eye on the kids, but they can’t see the TV (in the great room).”

Other thoughtful highlights: A home office near the front door (convenient for deliveries) and state-of-the-art smart technology to keep the home running as efficiently as possible.

New homes have the space for everything but it’s a matter of how to use that space.

In 40 years, new homes have grown substantially nationwide. The average new home is 44 percent larger than one built in 1973, according to real estate statistics. Back then, the average new house measured 1,660 square feet. In 2007, the national average hit 2,521.

Although construction came to a virtual standstill during the recession, home size slipped only slightly. The average new house still measures 2,480 square feet.

A mid-size home is now considered anything between 2,500 and 3,000 square feet. According to U.S. Census statistics, about 20 percent of new homes fall in that category. Almost 20 percent fit the 3,000- to 4,000-square-foot range. Another 7 percent top 4,000 square feet.

The most popular new home size – 1,800 to 2,400 square feet – accounts for 27 percent of new homes, but that includes townhouses and attached dwellings as well as single-family homes.


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