Survey points to surprises among home buyers

Consumers still want bigger houses. Plus, design is more important than price.

Those were two of the somewhat surprising results of a consumer survey shared by the keynote speaker during the 2011 Building and Infrastructure Conference last week.

John Burns, the keynote speaker and president and CEO of John Burns Real Estate Consulting, said 44% of consumers said they would want to buy a bigger house in the future, compared with only 22% who said they want a smaller house.

Those numbers seem to contradict a survey of builders conducted recently by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). In that survey, the average size of a new single-family home completed in 2010 declined from 2,438 sq. ft. to 2,377 sq. ft. And looking forward, builders are already expecting smaller homes in 2011. 

Burns also explained that the buyers' market for housing today puts a premium on home design and features -- a more important consideration than price, he said

And another surprise: While green technology is expected and demanded by today's home buyers, Generation Y was revealed by the survey to be the least likely age group to spend more for green features. "They are eco-conscious," Burns said. "But they are also very cost-conscious."

The remodeling business is going to boom, Burns said.

He said the fact that people aren't buying new homes will naturally promote spending on remodeling. "Remodeling business is going to boom, because people are staying in their homes."

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