hot, what's not in housing
What's hot in new
homes? Fewer walls, more toys.
Buyers are looking for open spaces in
the main area of the home with oversized
kitchens that flow into large family rooms.
When it comes to the master bathroom,
buyers are looking for a little luxury.
"We're basically seeing larger kitchen
areas and more open floor plans with vaulted
ceilings," says Dick Koestner, a
regional vice president with the National
Association of Realtors and partner in
Koestner McGivern & Associates in
Buyers want something "far less
formal and far more celebratory,"
says Ron Phipps, a regional vice president
of the National Association of Realtors.
Living rooms are going the way of the
powder blue tuxedo. "The real formal
living room is gone," says Joan Isgro-Grant,
an affiliate of Weichert Realtors in Kingston,
Homeowners are also demanding more for
the money. And with lower interest rates,
they are not afraid of buying more home.
"What they look at isn't the cost,
it's the monthly payment," says C.
D. Boring, president of RE/MAX Realty
Plus in Sebring, Fla.
That translates to higher-grade appliances,
more wood, more tile, more solid surface
countertops and more designer touches
in mid-priced to high-end homes.
"It amazes me," says Phipps,
president of Phipps Realty and Relocation
Services in Warwick, R.I. "Even in
modest homes, you have much more money
allocated for cabinets, countertops, appliances
and raw space."
Homeowners may be eating out as much
or more than ever, but they are using
their kitchens to entertain and as a gathering
place for the family. As a result, "builders
are putting more money in kitchens,"
says C. Kent Conine, president of the
National Association of Home Builders,
an industry trade group.
Likewise, the master bathroom is the
place they get away from it all. "It
needs to be large and needs to have a
feeling of luxuriousness -- and high quality,"
says Dan Lee, vice president with First
Weber Group Inc., in Madison, Wisc. "Natural
light is important, too."
Here are some of the most popular
new home features:
First-class kitchens. "They are
really tricking out the kitchens,"
says Sean Degen, vice president of architectural
services for Pulte Homes Inc., which builds
everything from $100,000 houses to those
priced well above $1 million.
The amenities will vary, depending on
the price range. But look for solid surface
counter-tops such as Corian, granite or
marble. Also hot: professional quality
appliances -- side-by-side refrigerators
and stoves with more than four burners
or smooth surfaces with no burners at
all -- and cabinetry in maple, cherry
and birch as builders try to tap "the
wow factor," says Conine, president
of Conine Residential Group in Dallas.
But the space also has to be practical,
says Lee. Buyers "are looking for
the design of the kitchen to flow. It
has to make sense."
Home office space. "Media rooms
and home offices are probably the two
most desirable amenities right now,"
says Conine. With an office, buyers are
looking for "something pretty generic,
so they can customize it to their own
tastes." But touches like window
seats and built-in bookshelves are always
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