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As new construction resumes, rebound homes address change in buyer needs, desires

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Ask anyone outside of the building industry the last time they stepped foot in a brand new home and they may need to pause and think. Surely for some, it’s been quite a while. The housing bubble burst nearly six years ago, and only recently has new construction picked up.

It’s worth noting the design and features in today’s homes are in many ways very different from the new home of 2007. Where big, spacious behemoths used to be desirable, today’s homeowners appear to seek practicality, functionality and sustainability above all.

BuilderOnline.com senior editor Claire Easley recently surveyed three respected architects on the latest design trends in today’s new homes. She found more owners of newly built homes desire:

Smaller homes closer to urban areas. As one architect told Easley, “The pool of people only buying on price per pound is shrinking.” More homeowners want great location with convenient access to entertainment and amenities.

A distinct neighborhood feel. One of the architects Easley interviewed said, “People are looking for a sense of community,” particularly cottage communities that offer smaller, well-designed homes that promote a close-knit feel.

Floor plans with greater functionality. Dens, open floor plans, larger gathering rooms. Designated spaces have gone the way of the formal dining room, er, the dinosaur. Homeowners want space that can be used as they see fit.

Outdoor space with privacy. Increasingly, homeowners want space for outdoor kitchens, fire pits and room to garden.

Green features. One architect said it best: “There’s a certain amount of sustainable feature that people are willing to buy on an emotional level, even if it doesn’t make sense economically. Ten years ago, people would ask for a pool; now they ask for a geothermal heat system. … They’re willing to pay more so they can feel like they’re doing their part and express themselves.”