It's the billion-dollar real estate question: What are the must-have home features that home buyers simply have to have in 2019?
The surprising—and extremely practical—answer: laundry rooms! An overwhelming 91% of home buyers said laundry rooms are an essential, or at least desirable, feature they want in their abodes, according to the National Association of Home Builders' newly released 2019 home trends and buyer preferences report.
The report was based on a survey of about 4,000 home buyers. It was presented this week at the group’s annual convention, along with new research from design and remodeling site Houzz.
Having a room devoted to washing soiled clothes, as it turned out, outweighed some of the far sexier and trendier home features out there, including hardwood floors or a tricked-out, outdoor living space, according to the NAHB report.
“Laundry rooms have become so popular because most people no longer want to see or step over messy lumps of dirty clothes in the hall or in the kitchen," says Rose Quint, who oversees survey research at NAHB. “Buyers want all that behind a door they can close and get to when they have time.”
Next up in popularity were Energy Star windows (officially certified to be energy-efficient); outdoor patios; Energy Star appliances; and ceiling fans.
Meanwhile, the least popular home feature was an elevator. Hey, stairs are cheaper and better for your figure!
Buyers also said they could live without wine cellars; day care centers; plant-covered green roofs; and trendy pet-washing stations. (Sorry, Fido.)
Buyers also have some strong preferences for the type of homes they want to live in and where they want those residences to be. The vast majority of shoppers, 77%, prefer detached, single-family homes, compared with 13% for townhouses, 4% for multifamily units such as condos, and 4% for manufactured (typically mobile) homes, according to the report.
When it comes to location, nearly two-thirds of buyers, 64%, want to be in the suburbs, while 11% pine for the big city and 24% prefer rural areas. But no matter where they live, they want to be near retail space where they can grab a bite or go shopping and walking or jogging trails.
“Suburbs are preferred locations since they offer a better possibility of getting a larger home—necessary for growing families,” says Robert Dietz, NAHB’s chief economist.
The hottest kitchen design trends right now
Buyers aren't the only tastemakers out there. Homeowners undergoing remodels are also weighing in on the features and design trends they crave. And they're focusing on the kitchen more than anything else, according to Houzz research presented at this week’s NAHB convention.
"Kitchens will continue to be the hub of the home, the place where homeowners invest the [bulk] of their savings," says Nino Sitchinava, the chief economist at Houzz. "It's becoming a showpiece."
The transitional-style kitchen is the biggest trend, according to the research. The marriage of traditional and modern styles is signified by features such as Shaker cabinets, contemporary light fixtures, and more traditional marble countertops.
The second most popular style is contemporary, which features "a pop of slightly more industrial features," says Sitchinava. The farmhouse style, popularized by HGTV shows like "Fixer Upper," is also gaining in favor.
Homeowners are still clamoring for white-toned kitchen cabinets, but Houzz is seeing more creamy, off-white or oyster shades with a hint of yellow. Wood cabinets are the second most desired.
Remodelers also prefer stronger, engineered quartz over granite for countertops.
"It's more expensive than granite," says Sitchinava, "but it's extremely durable. You don't have to worry about chipping, heat, or cold."
The most popular kitchen floors are ceramic or porcelain tiles, followed by engineered wood or laminate and hardwood. Resilient vinyl flooring is also growing in popularity, particularly with aging baby boomers who prefer a textured floor that's more slip-resistant.
And homeowners are doing more to open their kitchens to the outdoors. That could be by turning a single door outside into double doors or installing a wall of windows.
The hottest master bathroom trends right now
Master bathrooms are another hot remodel, often paired with a master bedroom renovation, according to Houzz research.
"It's becoming one larger, private retreat," says Sitchinava, noting that folks are creating complementary spaces with similar color schemes, fixtures, and cabinetry. Some homeowners are even removing the doors to their bathrooms to create one continuous room. Yikes! But fear not: They usually create toilet rooms—with doors or walls—to create some measure of privacy.
The contemporary style reigns supreme in this space, followed by the traditional look, according to Houzz. The farmhouse style, which incorporates lots of wood and more rustic elements, came in third.
But Victorian-style bathrooms are also on the rise.
"It's all about the details" with this style, says Sitchinava. "They are a reflection of a past century."