Small Homes Are Trending with First-Time Buyers

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), first-time homes are coming in smaller packages.

The Association recently released the NAHB Home Builder Preferences Survey indicating that smaller homes are selling well, primarily to first-time buyers, such as the latest cohort – the millennials. The home builders interviewed for the report suggest that many people now prefer to purchase small. And U.S. Census Bureau figures support that position: the average home built in 2016 was 2,634 sq. ft., down from 2,689 sq. ft. in 2015.

Says Rose Quint, NAHB’s assistant vice president of survey research: “2016 marked the end of an era that began in 2009, when homes got bigger and bigger with more amenities. I expect the size of homes to continue to decline as demand increases from first-time buyers.” Smaller homes are finding favor with other groups as well. Retirees who enjoy traveling find that smaller, lock-and-leave residences fit their on-the-go lifestyles, and economic realities mean that they now have to think small.

While both the downsizing and millennial buyers are comfortable with less space (and the resulting savings on utility bills), they still expect the luxurious finishes and modern amenities available in larger homes. Millennials, because that’s what’s trendy now, and retirees, because they don’t want to feel they’re settling for less.

As a result, home d├ęcor magazines and TV network programs are touting the benefits of small homes and showcasing elegant space-saving solutions designed for those who want to scale down their homes without changing their lifestyles. Because they won’t.

Improvements That Increase Your Home’s Value

This year, if you’re looking to increase the value of your home but are unsure what home improvements to make, think curb appeal.

According to a recent report from Remodeling magazine, curb appeal projects, such as changes to windows, siding, and doors, lead to a higher return on investment (ROI) than interior improvements.

Over the past 30 years, Remodeling has compared the average cost of improvement projects with their value at resale, based on the experience of real estate professionals. The magazine’s 2017 Cost vs. Value Report supports the generally held opinion that today’s home buyers, while still enthusiastic about the bells and whistles, want to ensure their homes are structurally sound with all systems functioning efficiently.

Remodeling’s projects include a basement remodel, an entry door that was replaced with 20 gauge steel, and the addition of stone veneer. All of the 29 projects tracked returned on average 64.3 cents per dollar spent.

Among the trends, the higher return of curb appeal projects and projects that required the replacing of windows, doors, etc. Replacement projects generally scored higher than remodeling projects; the ROI of replacement was 74% and of remodels was 63.7%.

As in the previous year, adding loose fill insulation to the attic returned 107.7% and was the only project on the list whose value exceeded its cost. Steel door replacement and addition of stone veneer also paid off, at 90.7% and 89.4% respectively. Interestingly, these are among the cheapest projects, although their costs were up over the previous year.

Those who want to tackle an interior project might do well to consider a basement remodel, providing it’s done well; a high-end basement remodel was perceived as high value, returning 7.4% more than the same project last year, while a mid-range basement remodeling project only increased in value by 3.3% over the previous year.

Something to consider when you’re planning your next home improvement project.