For Many Home Buyers Smaller is Better

Posted in Buyer Blog | 17/11/2012

Windsor New Home

Windsor New Home

The overwhelming majority of homebuyers today are looking at properties that are smaller, efficient and more affordable than the larger homes that were so popular a decade ago.  At that time, buyers bought homes on the expectations that they could later sell at large profits.  Demand was for everything oversized and over-the-top, even if the features weren’t attractive or useful to the current buyers.

But today, it’s a different story.  No longer are buyers seeing quick profits from home sales, so they are looking for new properties that are more in tune with their lifestyle.  For homebuilders, the economy is shaping today’s new construction.

What are buyers looking for and how are builders responding?

1.  Energy:

While high ceilings are still popular, they are no longer a must have with buyers.  Now when they walk into a home, the first thought is more likely to be:  “Wow, how am I going to heat this room?”  With rising fuel costs, buyers see energy efficiency as a must have.  The lower heating and utility costs are reassuring to those who are putting every cent into their home purchases and must limit their ongoing expenses.

2.  Affordable:

Homebuilders understand that not only are they building smaller homes, but they need to bring down the prices as well since they are competing with an oversupply of existing homes. So in new home construction today we are often seeing halls that are narrower, large interior spaces that are gone, less square feet in master bedrooms, no more media rooms or even home offices.  And the big news?  Buyers don’t seem to miss it.

Other changes:

Fewer add ons, like window seats, nooks, fewer mudrooms, 3 car garages and exercise rooms or children’s wings or in-law apartments.  Buyers are also not seeing custom features that were so common even a few years ago.  Instead, you may find just three or four different window sizes so builders can save and purchase in bulk.

3.  Flexible:

With rooms disappearing from new construction, particularly with starter homes, we are finding that families are more flexible.  For example, in some cases, you are no longer seeing the traditional living and dining rooms.  Formal spaces are shrinking from the home’s footprint and now we are seeing a more open floor plan.  Great rooms are combining kitchen and dining rooms.  Family rooms are the hub of a household and no longer are we seeing family disperse to far-away rooms of larger households.  Kitchens are still hugely popular with homebuyers, and builders know this.  We are seeing larger kitchens as it serves as the heart of smaller homes.  This is where builders are spending their budget dollars.  The kitchens have bigger islands, appliances, ideal lighting and lots of great cabinets, counter and flooring choices.

The most important trend buyers want and builders are responding, is a home that flows.  Yes, there may be fewer rooms, but an open plan is a way to make a home seem larger than it really is.

4.  Storage:

Builders are also taking note and creating more storage for homebuyers.  This can be challenging with fewer rooms, but walk in closets as well as utility rooms and second store laundry rooms are filled with ample cupboards, shelving and closets.  Buyers may want to scrimp on space and budget, but they don’t want to lose any storage.

5.  Green:

Homes that create as much energy as they can are going more mainstream.  With features such as compact fluorescent bulbs, energy-saving appliances and homes that are securely built, meaning tight walls and windows, ensures that homes won’t leak air where they are not supposed to.  Solar panels, while not common, may be heading in that direction.

6.  Easy Access:

Home buyers today are looking at homes that they want to stay in for several years.  It makes financial sense as the longer you stay in, the more equity you gain.  For buyers looking at properties, they want to know that a home will age with them.  Therefore, they are looking at single story homes, fewer stairs and overall easier accessibility.  In fact, many homes today are “doubling up,” meaning homebuyers are living with another adult generation.

Finally, home buyers considering new construction should know that with some neighbourhoods, they are still in driver’s seat when it comes to making an offer on a home.  In some areas, prices have never been lower and many builders are ready to sit and negotiate.  While usually more expensive than a pre-owned home with the same square footage and same number of bedrooms and bathrooms, a new home allows a fresh start.  It is brand new with the latest technology and energy-saving features.  It’s an opportunity for you to personalize your new home and not have to undo what the previous owner did.

So thinking of buying a Windsor new home?  It might be the best time.

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