As the impact of COVID-19 continues to play a big role in our lives, Americans have realized now more than ever, “there’s no place like home.” In the last six months, shelter-in-place orders and the continuing spread of COVID-19 have made our home spaces more than just a place of rest and refuge. They’ve become workplaces, school spaces, gyms, restaurants, playgrounds, meeting places, dance halls, artist’s retreats, libraries, and much more.
All of this excessive home time has given Americans a lot of time to think about what they want in their home in the future. Many of their demands center around lifestyle and wellness, which they place at the top of their new home wish list. Smart homebuilders can increase sales of their new homes by meeting these demands, while also ensuring health, safety, and well-being of their homeowners. Research about the impact of the pandemic on new home design, reveals that the top four areas that homebuyers want to see changed in new homes are:
- Safety First
- Floorplan Design
- Interior Materials & Products
There has been a lot of research about the short and long-term impact of the pandemic on the home building industry. One of the most in-depth studies was the America at Home Study, which gave insight into a collective changing viewpoint of home and safety as a direct result of the pandemic. The study was hosted online by Gazelle Global Research from April 23 to 30 with a nationally representative sample of 3,001 consumers 25 to 74 years of age with household incomes of more than $50,000.
One of the most important areas that the study focused on was how safe owners & renters were feeling in their homes. An overwhelming majority of respondents said that their home now represented a “safe place” for them. In addition, 91% of respondents said safety from disease is their number one priority in their home. When respondents were asked what is missing that they would like to have and be willing to pay for in a new home, they mentioned separate entrances for family/guests, mud rooms where they can remove clothing and a bathroom nearby to shower before entering the home. They indicated that they wanted control of how they lived in their homes, with special attention paid to cleanliness, indoor air quality, separate spaces for residents, germ-free surfaces, and touch-free entries & plumbing
Multiple Home Offices
With more people working from home, new home buyers are demanding multiple home office spaces. As the tools to work from home get better, the next generation of buyers will look for homes where living spaces and working spaces are more defined or adaptable. For some families, that might mean multiple adults need workspaces. In the America at Home Study, over 30% of the respondents said they would need office space for more than one person.
Multi-Purpose Spaces & Flexible Walls
Since homes are playing a central role in the lives of their residents, the need for multi-purpose spaces is a top priority. Open floor plans can be difficult to manage lots of varying activities happening at the same time, so buyers are looking for spaces that can easily be turned into a playroom, classroom, meeting space, etc. Buyers would like to have more privacy in those plans, so it would be a good idea to offer flexible walls. Garages are one of the areas that buyers want to be able to have flexibility, so make sure that there are plenty of design options to make the garage into a gym, office, or classroom. Over 49% of the respondents in the America at Home Study had made significant changes to their garage to meet their privacy and space needs.
INTERIOR MATERIALS & PRODUCTS
With all the emphasis on health, safety, and wellness homeowners are looking for ways to easily and safely keep themselves protected from illness. The America at Home Study found that 73% of respondents are disinfecting their homes more as a result of COVID-19. When respondents were asked what is missing that they would like to have and be willing to pay for in a home, the top results were related to the interior materials and surfaces of their homes that they now find themselves so frequently disinfecting.
Specifically addressed were germ-resistant countertops and flooring (55% overall) highest among older millennials/young Gen Xers (63%) and then millennials (59%) as well as touch-free faucets, appliances and smart toilets being desired by more than half of millennials and Gen Xers.
When looking at interior finishes, you should consider using copper, bronze, and brass that have intrinsic antimicrobial and virus-fighting agent properties rather than stainless steel, which is shown to hold onto the live virus for several days.
Since residents are spending more of their time in their home homebuyers are very concerned about indoor air quality, energy efficiency, and a quiet, healthy environment. They understand the benefits of dual paned windows, high-efficiency HVAC systems, insulated roofs, foam insulation, induction cooktops, and other construction techniques and products that make their homes safer, provide better indoor air quality, and are healthier living environments.
“Today a new home needs to be healthy, built beyond code requirements to deliver the best energy efficient and healthy features available. Fit, connected with the latest and best single application control and Fabulous, able to be completely personalized on schedule, so schedules and the release for sale should be adapted allow for earlier sales in the construction process. Delivering all three, Healthy, Fit and Fabulous homes transforms a homebuilder into a New Home Retailer who builds what today’s new home shoppers really want. If new homebuilders want to increase and continue to grow their sales during and beyond the pandemic, they’ll make this transition immediately and stop building old homes that haven’t been lived in,” said Mike Moore, owner of Moore Leadership & Peak Performance.
Technology has become one of the biggest winners in the COVID-19 homebuilding environment. New homebuyers are more than willing to pay for products that will help them manage their energy, ensure cleaner water and indoor air, and protect the overall environment. In a June 2020 study of 2,000 prospective new homebuyers, Meyers Research found the following:
When asked “How much would you be willing to pay for these features?”, the survey found the following:
Controlled Clean Air Unit: $800 (66%)
Water Filtration Whole House: $1,200: (69%)
Circadian Lighting for Healthy Sleep: $700 (32%)
Virtual Appliances: $500 (26%)
Net Zero Living: $30,000 (22%)
Features to Saving Money & Be Green – Would Pay $30K+ (67%)
Nortek Controls has seen an increase in demand for their Elan Smart Home Automation system, which allows residents to control their entire home with an app on their smart-phone.
“A home isn’t smart if it’s not healthy and healthy home is the new home people are looking for today. Premium home control platforms have a wealth of abilities to deliver intelligent wellness solutions and improve the lives of new homeowners. The solutions available today that address air filtration, water purification, circadian lighting, and sleep/comfort features make a new home today superior to any home on the market,” said Bret Jacob Director of Builder Services, Nortek Controls.