Trend Watch: Here’s What Home Buyers Want

This national survey debunks myths about what’s hot in new homes and includes opinions on solar, energy efficiency, electric vehicles, and aging in place.

Think granite countertops are passé? Think again – they’re almost twice as preferred as quartz. That’s just one of the findings of a national survey of U.S. homeowners conducted on behalf of Erie Insurance. Erie Insurance commissioned the survey to gain fresh insights about homeowner preferences on a wide range of topics including design and finish preferences, aging in place features, technology, energy efficiency and more.

There’s been some buzz over the past few years about the rising popularity of quartz, but the Erie Insurance survey found granite is still the preferred choice. When homeowners were asked which countertop material they would want if building a new home today, 40% said they would definitely want granite, compared with only 23% who said they would definitely want quartz.

Other survey findings include:

  • The U.S. Census Bureau has reported on the graying of America, projecting that for the first time in history, older adults will outnumber children by the year 2035. This trend has not, however, led homeowners as a whole to want universal design elements that would enable aging in place. Only about a quarter of all respondents (26%) would definitely want universal design features. The percentage is only somewhat higher (34%) among homeowners between the ages of 51 and 60.
  • When it comes to energy efficient features, about a third of all respondents (32%) would definitely want solar panels on a new home, but the feature is much more coveted by men than women (41% versus 28%, respectively). There were also significant gender differences regarding preferences for tankless water heaters. 41% of men would definitely want a tankless water heater compared with 32% of women.
  • Electric vehicle production is on the rise, but most homeowners aren’t ready to plan for it when it comes to building a new house. Only 6% of homeowners say they definitely would want an electric vehicle charging station if they were building a new home today, while more than half (55%) definitely would not want one.
  • Security systems with security cameras are significantly more coveted in the Northeast than in the Midwest. More than half of Northeasterners (54%) say they would definitely want this feature, compared with only 28% of Midwesterners. Overall, 44% of homeowners would definitely want a security system with security cameras.
  • Freestanding soaking tubs are seen as a hot trend, but only a fifth of homeowners (21%) would definitely want a soaking tub if they were building a new house today, compared with 34% who definitely would not. But almost half (45%) are on the fence, saying they might want one.
  • You’d think the convenience of having two sinks in the master bath would be a no-brainer but that’s not the case. While more than half of homeowners (54%) would definitely want two sinks, a fair number are undecided (33% might want them), and 13% definitely would not want them.

“As a company in the business of protecting people’s homes and belongings, we’re always looking around the corner to see what’s next, so we can continue to meet the needs of not only today’s homeowners, but tomorrow’s as well,” said Bob Buckel, vice president, Erie Insurance. “It’s helpful to see which features homeowners prefer – and if our survey gets people thinking about their homeowners insurance and making sure they have the right coverage, so much the better.”

Regarding homeowners insurance, Buckel said one troubling finding is the large percentages of people who either don’t have guaranteed replacement cost coverage, or don’t know whether they do or not. Guaranteed replacement cost coverage protects against inflation by paying to rebuild a home in today’s dollars, regardless of what the homeowner originally paid for the home.

When asked whether their homeowners insurance policy included guaranteed replacement cost coverage, four in 10 (42%) said they didn’t know. Of the rest, 44% said their policy included the coverage while 15% said it did not.

“One of the key takeaways from our perspective is that homeowners would benefit by talking with their insurance agent to make sure their policy has guaranteed replacement cost coverage,” said Buckel. “For many people, their home is their single biggest financial investment, and the last thing they would want is to find out too late that they don’t have enough coverage to rebuild it.”