IBSx: Remodeling and building trends for 2021

  • Jonathan Sweet
  • 01 Mar 2021

While we all would have loved to have been in Orlando for this year’s International Builders Show, the pandemic changed those plans like it has so many others. So instead, we joined the industry for the first-ever IBSx virtual show.

Last week, we shared some of the outlook for 2021 for the industry from some of the top economists at the show. This week, we take a look of some of the top trends for 2021 as uncovered by industry research.

Many of the speakers at this year’s show pointed to two major trends: home sizes will be bigger in 2021 and outlying suburbs are becoming more attractive as people choose to live further away from their neighbors and cities. That’s a marked reversal from the trends that shaped the industry post-Great Recession.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the specific features that are driving home building, though. While much of this data is based on recent or potential homebuyers, it’s applicable to both remodeling and new construction.

Top features in new homes

According to NAHB’s Home Market Index, these are the features that home builders say they are most likely to include in new homes in 2021.

  • Walk-in closet
  • Laundry room
  • Low-E windows
  • Great room
  • Energy-efficient lighting
  • Kitchen island
  • 9-foot+ ceilings on the first floor
  • Programmable thermostat
  • Energy star appliances
Walk-in closets are proving popular in 2021

What homeowners want

NAHB also surveyed 3,200 people across the country who had either bought a home in the last three years or were planning to buy in the next three years. The survey was conducted in summer 2020.

Two-thirds of those surveyed said COVID had not affected their housing preferences, while 25 percent said it had (8 percent weren’t sure). Not surprisingly, for those with at least one virtual student and teleworker, the impact was higher at 43 percent.

More than 20 percent said they wanted a larger home due to COVID – and 35 percent of those with virtual workers and learners.

NAHB also asked these homeowners and potential buyers about the features they wanted in their homes. One significant trend is a growing interest in homes designed for multiple generations of adults. Overall, 39 percent said they preferred that, while 39 percent said no and 23 percent were unsure. There were significant demographic differences, though, as 53 percent of Hispanics, 50 percent of African-Americans and 46 percent of Asians said they would prefer a multi-generation household, compared with only 36 percent of Caucasians.

When it comes to specific features, these are the top ones that respondents said were essential or desirable:

  • Exterior lighting (87%)
  • Energy Star-rated windows (83%)
  • Outdoor living features, including patios and decks (82%)
  • Walk-in pantry (81%)
  • Front porch (81%)
  • Hardwood floors (81%)
  • Kitchen island (77%)
  • Programmable thermostat (77%)

And the most popular specialty rooms

  • Laundry room (87%)
  • Dining room (70%)
  • Great room (64%)
  • Home office (63%)
  • Separate living room (62%)
kitchen remodels are in demand in 2021.

Consumers care about green remodeling … but most won’t pay for it

These homeowners and potential buyers showed plenty of interest in green features, but were reluctant to invest in them beyond energy efficiency.

Only 22 percent of respondents said they don’t care about the environment, said Paul Emrath NAHB vice president of surveys and housing policy research, but at the same time only 15 percent said they are willing to pay more for most green features. That 15 percent figure has not changed much over the history of the survey, Emrath said.

On the other hand, they do seem willing to pay more to save on their energy bills, with the average buyer willing to pay more than $9,000 to save $1,000 a year on utility costs.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that the top green features (noted as essential or desirable) are all about saving energy:

  • Energy Star windows (83%)
  • Energy Star appliances (81%)
  • Energy-efficient lighting (80%)
  • Energy Star rating for the whole home (79%)
  • Triple-pane windows (73%)

Keep these trends in mind when working on your marketing for 2021 and beyond and make sure you’re selling what homeowners want. If you need help refining your marketing, RT Marketing is here to help!