As the spring home buying season ramps up, we surveyed home shoppers to find out what features they are looking for, what motivates them, and what triggered their home purchase. This year, the typical spring buyer is on the hunt for a three bedroom, two bathroom home with a garage and up-to-date kitchen. We know that life-cycle events trigger housing market moves, but data from our recent survey shows that a notable number of millennial shoppers decided to start shopping for homes as a result of rising rents. The survey also revealed that family needs are motivating buyers under 55 to get into the market, while older buyers (55+) are looking for privacy and comfort in their new home.
Buyers want Space, Multiple Bathrooms, and a Garage
While this spring’s housing market is shaping up to be more competitive than most as a result of record-low inventory and rising home prices, there are some consistencies. Namely, classic features still top most shoppers’ wish lists. In fact, 44 percent of respondents said they are looking for a three-bedroom home and 93 percent of respondents want at least two bathrooms—in line with the typical home sold in 2017. Additionally, 27 percent of shoppers rate a garage as one of the most important home features, just ahead of an updated kitchen, 24 percent, and open floor plan, 20 percent.
According to the survey, more than 20 percent of shoppers 55 years and older said that privacy—having a space solely of their own—was their main goal for purchasing a home. That was followed by their motivation for physical comforts at 18 percent and stability, at 15 percent.
By contrast, family needs took precedence for younger buyers. Fulfilling immediate-family needs took the top spot for buyers under 55, at 17 percent. Among shoppers aged 18 to 34, family needs were followed by stability at 14 percent and personal expression at 13 percent. Only 12 percent of buyers younger than 55 cited privacy as their chief priority. Conversely, only 9 percent of 35- to 54-year-old shoppers and 6 percent of those aged 55+ cited personal expression as a main goal for purchasing a home.
For Millennials, the Rent is Too High
Twenty-three percent of buyers between 18 and 34 years old reported rising rent as a trigger for their desire to purchase a home—more than any other option. This corresponds with steep increases in rents across the country in recent years, especially in many high-cost urban areas that have become magnets for millennials. Data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development show that rents were up in 85 of the top 100 metro areas, including 9 metros where rents were up by double-digit percent from a year ago. While tiring of the current home is a top shopping trigger across age categories, with 1 in 4 shoppers overall citing this reason, it fell behind rising rents as a motivation among buyers aged 18 to 34.
Millennials Like Contemporary and Colonial Homes; Older Buyers Prefer Ranches
Among millennials who expressed a home-style preference – 11 percent didn’t – contemporary and colonial homes took the top spots, each favored by 10 percent of respondents. On the other hand, ranch homes, which feature single-story living, are the most popular home style for buyers 55 and older, favored by 28 percent. Ranch homes are followed distantly by contemporary homes, preferred by 12 percent of buyers aged 55 and over. Only 6 percent of millennials favor ranch homes.
 The median home purchased in 2017 was a three-bedroom, two bathroom home as reported in the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers released by the National Association of REALTORS®. https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/highlights-from-the-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers