Austin home buyers serve as a microcosm of larger trends that are appearing among home buyers in today’s new landscape. While McMansions may have been all the rage in the late 1990s/early 2000s, homebuyers today are looking for something entirely different: smaller, greener, and more flexible. Difficult economic times have not only impacted what people look for in a home, but how they interact and live in their homes as well.
Quality Matters More Than Size: The days of conspicuous consumption being the norm when buyers looked for a home to buy are over, in both new construction and in existing homes for sale. Today’s buyers are very conscious of heating and utility bills and it’s no longer a status symbol to own a huge house with empty rooms you never use.
One advantage of choosing smaller footprint homes is that it allows buyers to select finishes and materials that would otherwise have been prohibitively expensive in a larger home. Brick, stone, and stone veneer siding is a very popular choice today, with fiber cement and vinyl siding falling out of favor. Whirlpool baths and soaking tubs remain popular choices for master baths, and hardwood flooring remains one of the most popular flooring selections.
The Greener the Better: Buyers are increasingly aware of the value of energy-efficient windows, appliances, insulation, energy efficient bulbs, and furnaces and the environmental benefits of using green materials. While the mechanical systems of a home used to be an afterthought for many buyers (as long as they functioned), more and more are insisting that the homes they buy be as green as possible, from the start of construction to move-in day.
Energy-saving appliances are definitely in, including solar hot water heaters and tankless water heaters. Hardwood flooring from easily renewable sources such as bamboo, cork, and eucalyptus are growing in popularity, especially as they become more common and are offered by flooring suppliers in a variety of styles and finishes.
Kitchens are King: It’s a common saying in the world of real estate that “kitchens and baths sell houses” and that’s still true in today’s market, especially with kitchens. As more families and homeowners opt to eat at home to save money, the kitchen is increasingly become the center of many homes.
Kitchens with open floor plans and an island are very popular, as they offer a flexible and functional place to cook, eat, and socialize. Granite was once looked at as a high-end upgrade but it’s increasingly becoming a standard feature that homeowners expect, instead of something they dream of having one day.
Open Flexible Spaces are Optimal: More people are working from home, so an area for a home office is becoming a necessity for many buyers. Formal dining rooms are quickly becoming a dinosaur, as more and more families congregate in the kitchen or living room for meal time, and the space that would otherwise be a dedicated dining room is instead where the home office goes.
That trend is showing up throughout the home in general, as more and more homeowners prefer open floorplans with fewer doors and dividing walls.
No Garage or Backyard? No Deal: With the overall footprint of homes shrinking, the amount of junk most people need to store continues to rise. A two-car garage is a necessity for most of today’s homeowners, even if a car never sees the inside of it.
Backyards are also growing in popularity, with more and more people embracing outdoor entertaining in lieu of expensive vacations or trips to amusement parks, etc. Decks and patios effectively increase the square footage of your home (especially in Austin with our very brief winters), making them a popular choice in today’s homes.