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RISMedia's REAL ESTATE March 2017 41 In 2015, the typical new home had 2,689 square feet. In 2016, it dropped to 2,634, according to fig- ures supplied by the U.S. Census Bureau. That's the first drop in size since 2009, says Rose Quint, NAHB assistant vice president for Survey Research. "The data on new-home charac- teristics show a pattern," she says. "2016 marked the end of an era that began in 2009 when homes got big- ger and bigger with more amenities. I expect the size of homes to contin- ue to decline as demand increases from first-time buyers." These homes must also include specific amenities: a separate laun- dry room, energy-efficient features, ceiling fans and programmable ther- mostats are at the top of buyers' wish lists. Homebuyers also want patios, exterior lighting and a full bath on the main level. A majority of homebuyers say they would prefer a new home to an ex- isting home, and 65 percent want that home to be in the suburbs. Size preference goes up as income goes up, with buyers in the $150,000+ income bracket preferring homes around 2,500 square feet. But no matter what the income, buyers overwhelmingly prefer a smaller house with more features and ame- nities over sheer size. "More than two-thirds are willing to trade size for high-quality products and features," says Quint. New research from Better Homes & Gardens targets a subset of these homeowners: "First Millenni- als," those between 22 - 39 who are living in their first home. These first-time homebuyers gen- erally purchase older housing stock in need of fixing up, says Executive Editor Jill Waage, which means that 88 percent of them are interested in learning about home improvement and repair. They don't want to spend too much money, and they're willing to wait for high-quality products and finishes until their next home. Amenities for outside living con- tinue to be popular and increas- ingly include she sheds, stand-alone buildings to be used for outdoor en- tertaining, crafting, reading or just to get away, says Waage. But it's all about value, as this group thinks ahead to building eq- uity. When that happens, they aren't looking for oversized master suites or over-the-top finishes. They want mud rooms, a separate laundry room and plenty of gathering space. RE For more information, please visit www.nahb.org. Buyers Willing to Trade Square Footage for Amenities T he average size of newly built homes decreased in 2016—a sign that the home-building industry is preparing for the coming wave of first-time buyers as millennials begin to dip their toes into the market, according to recently released research and survey results from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).