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Price, Proximity to Work and Design
Are Key Concerns for Home Buyers

Price and proximity to work are key concerns for first-time home buyers, while
trade-up buyers tend to be most focused on the design of the home and the
neighborhood, according to “Characteristics of Home Buyers,” an analysis of the
recently released 2011 American Housing Survey (AHS) by the National
Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

The biennial survey, which is conducted in odd-numbered years by the Census
Bureau, covers about 6.8 million home sales that occurred in 2009 and 2010.
NAHB’s analysis additionally compares the homes that buyers purchased with what
they say they want using results from “What Home Buyers Really Want,” a new consumer
preference survey published by the association.

“Among first-time home buyers, price was the most frequently cited reason for
selecting a particular house, with a 38 percent share. At 30 percent, proximity
to work was the most frequently cited reason for choosing a specific
neighborhood,” says David Crowe, NAHB’s chief economist.

“The majority of trade-up buyers (36 percent) cited the design of the home as
the primary reason for selecting a particular house, with 28 percent citing the
looks and design of the community as the reason for choosing a specific

More than 90 percent of the sales reported in the 2011 AHS were existing homes,
a significant increase from previous years. “Sales of new homes were very low
in 2009 and 2010 due to the unique circumstances surrounding the Great
Recession and the housing market crisis. We expect that situation to turn
around as the housing market recovery takes hold,” says Crowe. “More than half
(55 percent) of the people surveyed for “What Home Buyers Really Want,” NAHB’s
consumer preferences study, said they would prefer to purchase a new home
rather than an existing home.”

There’s good reason for that preference. New homes provide buyers the
opportunity to choose finishes, fixtures, flooring and more. And they are apt
to have the other elements that buyers want including open design,
up-to-the-minute kitchens and baths, and features such as a laundry room and
walk-in pantry that help with organization and storage.

There is also growing interest in single-story homes, and energy efficiency
continues to be a concern. In fact, nine out of ten buyers surveyed would
prefer to purchase a home with energy-efficient features and permanently lower
utility bills rather than to buy a home without those features that costs two
to three percent less.

New homes today definitely fit that description, and as a group are the most
energy- and resource-efficient homes ever built.

Increasing numbers of homes nationwide are being constructed to the ICC 700
National Green Building Standard (NGBS), which is the only residential green
building rating system approved by ANSI as an American National Standard. These
homes have lower operating costs due to cost-effective energy and water
efficiency practices and the use of lower maintenance materials.

Additional NAHB analysis of information from the 2011 AHS shows that energy
costs are about 10 percent lower in new homes, even though new homes tend to be
larger. The average annual cost of energy was $2,478 for all single-family
homes and $2,240 for those built after 2008, which were new when the
information was compiled. Average maintenance costs were 56 percent lower for
new homes. Average annual maintenance costs for homes built after 2008 were
$241 compared to $547 for all single-family homes.

“No matter what their preference for location or style, financially qualified
buyers are likely to find a new home with the features they most want,” says
Crowe. “The housing market is strengthening in most areas of the country, and
home builders are eager to help buyers achieve or further their homeownership

For more information, visit www.nahb.org.