WASHINGTON, DC — After declining for four years, several key features of new U.S. homes, including their average size and the number of bathrooms, reversed course in 2020 due to shifting buyer preferences resulting from COVID-19, the National Association of Home Builders reported this week.
The average-sized new home remained flat at 2,486 sq. ft. last year, while the percentage of homes with four or more bedrooms and three or more bathrooms rose to 46% and 33%, respectively – close to their 2015 peaks, the NAHB said.
“The primary reason is that COVID-19 has led a segment of home buyers to desire larger homes and to move to the suburbs,” said Rose Quint, assistant v.p./survey research for the Washington, DC-based NAHB.
“An increased number of rooms within the same footprint means homeowners are becoming more creative in how they use the space within their homes and are using features such as windows to help make these spaces feel larger. The space works harder rather than larger. Open spaces are better defined, and spaces are flexible.”
New homes are gaining in popularity, as well, said Quint, attributing the trend to a lack of existing-home inventory, buyers’ fears of touring other people’s homes, and the fact that new homes “are more likely to be located where buyers want to live.”
Kitchen double sinks and walk-in pantries are among the most desired features in new homes, Quint noted. Connections between indoors and outdoors are also becoming increasingly popular, she added.
NAHB also asked recent and prospective home buyers how COVID-19 may have impacted their housing preferences. Although the majority (67%) did not feel the pandemic had an impact, a quarter of those surveyed said they felt their housing preferences had changed, with households that have at least one teleworker and one virtual student being the most likely to feel an impact. Such households are also the most likely to desire a larger home.