(BILD President and CEO Bryan Tuckey authors a series of newspaper columns focusing on key industry issues. They appear on Thursdays in Metro News and on Saturdays in the Toronto Sun and the Toronto Star’s New In Homes section.)
By Bryan Tuckey, BILD President and CEO (Article originally appeared in The Toronto Star Sept 2, 2017)
What do new home buyers really want in their new house, townhouse or condo? Lots of storage, energy-efficient features and a great kitchen, according to a survey by BILD member Avid Ratings Canada.
The 2017 Canadian Home Buyer Preference National Study, completed for the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, compiled the responses of 2,775 recent new home buyers from six provinces, including Ontario.
The survey found that the Canadian dream of owning a single-detached home is very much alive. When asked what they wanted their next home to be, 41 per cent of those surveyed said they wanted a single-detached, two-storey house and 24 per cent wanted a single-detached bungalow. New home buyers’ desire for single-detached homes has increased over the past few years. In 2015, 55.7 per cent of respondents identified single-detached as their preferred next home purchase, whereas this year, 65 per cent of respondents stated that preference.
New home buyers across Canada said they are willing to make trade-offs to be able to afford their next home. The study found that almost 23 per cent would be willing to accept a smaller home and 20 per cent said they would be willing to live further from work and amenities to make their next home more affordable. Eighteen per cent said they would be willing to accept unfinished spaces in the home and 17 per cent said they would accept fewer community features.
The study also compiled a list of respondents’ top 10 must have home features. Survey results specific to the GTA showed that, not surprisingly, storage was a prominent theme with new home buyers wanting plenty of space to park their belongings, from clothes to towels to cars. Walk-in closets were number one on the list of top 10 must-have home features, and linen closets and two-car garages also made the list.
The kitchen was another key theme on the list of top 10 must-have home features. New home buyers in the GTA said they want a kitchen that connects with living and dining areas, and they placed open-concept layouts and kitchen islands on their Top 10 wish list. The majority also said they want that kitchen island and other counters to be topped with quartz rather than granite.
Energy efficiency was also important to new home buyers in the GTA, according to the study. Among their Top 10 must-haves were high-efficiency windows, energy-efficient appliances, certification by a designated program such as ENERGY STAR®® and an overall energy-efficient home. As well, LED lighting and solar power generation were found to be growing in popularity.
When asked what motivated them to seek energy efficiency, only 16 per cent of new home buyers across Canada cited concern for the environment. The majority, some 60 per cent, said their main motivation was lower utility costs. Fifty-eight per cent of survey respondents said they would be willing to spend an extra $3,000-$5,000 on their next home to save $1,200 per year on utilities.
Surveys such as the Canadian Home Buyer Preference National Study are part of the extensive market research that the new home building industry undertakes regularly. This research helps builders understand what new home buyers are looking for, so they can build it.