Your home is likely your single most important asset. If the year 2020 taught people nothing else, it taught them just how important their home is to them. It kept them safe, and provided many people with a place to work, study, shelter, and entertain themselves.
People spend a lot of effort, time, and money on their homes. And many people look toward what the current and future trends are when making changes or updates to their properties. That’s why each year Fixr.com brings you its single-family home trends report. 48 of the industry's top experts told us what they believe the latest trends are in single-family home construction and remodeling. We’ve published these results for you in an easy to read format so that you capture these trends more easily.
Whether you’re a professional in the home design industry hoping to find new ideas to bring to your clients or a homeowner who is looking for the most cutting edge materials and trends for your home, we hope you’ll find something of value in this information.
- 50% of experts point to more working flexibility as the most common reason people buy a new single family home in 2021
- Open floor plan remains the top option for new homes in 2021, despite the pandemic.
- Home offices and extra storage are most requested additional spaces by homeowners
- 94% of experts believe that the desire for multi-purpose spaces will continue to gain in popularity going forward
- Of all the generations, millennials are most concerned about having a healthy home, 62% agree
- Ventilation and water quality amongst biggest concerns for homeowners when wanting a healthy home
Table of Contents
- Home Buyers
- New Homes
- Home Remodeling
- Built-to-Rent Single-Family Home Communities
- Healthy Homes
Single-Family Home Buyers
Experts were asked first who is buying homes right now. From income to age range, this category can help industry professionals better understand who they are marketing to and what those people are looking for in their homes.
Local Buyers Lead the Single-Family Home Market
When asked who were the most common buyers they were encountering in the last year, 43% of experts said that it was people staying local. This means when someone remains close to their previous home. 32% said that buyers from other states were the most common for them, while 21% said that it was buyers from other towns. This type of information may be geographical. For example, California lost more residents in the last year than in any previous time period, while other state populations may have grown or stayed the same. Given that 2020 was something of an anomaly, it remains to be seen whether or not this pattern will continue in the months or years ahead.
Two-income Households are the Most Common Single-Family Home Buyers
When it comes to the income type of home buyers, 57% said that two-income households were the most common in their area. 28% felt that it was business owners doing the buying, while only 11% of the market fell to single-income households. Two income households make up roughly 58% of households, so these numbers are fairly well in line with what experts are seeing in their own areas.
Having More Working Flexibility is The Main Reason to Buy a New House in 2021, According to 50% of Experts
When asked why people were buying new single family homes in 2021, 50% of experts said that it was due to having more working flexibility. By being remote, and eliminating the need for a commute, many homeowners may be choosing to move closer to family, to a better location (44% of responses) or to move away from high cost areas (37% of responses). Although there has been a big increase in the number of remote workers, it may be too soon to know whether the trend of remote working will stay at a strong level going forward, or whether more traditional working roles will resume, and what type of impact this may have on housing in the future.
Homeowners Want to Have Their Say in the Design and Space of Their House
Responses were more mixed when experts were asked what were the most common reasons to build a custom single-family home rather than purchasing. 40% cited space customization as the answer, while 38% felt that it was the ability to choose special features or designs, such as a green home or a smart home. 36% answered that it was dissatisfaction with the housing market that was driving this trend. Some of these features do overlap with one another, such as the ability to customize a home so that it can include special features and be unlike what’s currently on the market. This could account for how closely the three categories scored.
New Home Trends 2021
There is Not a Clear Idea on How the Pandemic Has Influenced House Size
When asked what size new single-family homes were becoming following the pandemic, 51% of respondents said that they felt that new homes were bigger than before, while 43% felt that they were roughly the same size. Given how much time was spent at home in 2020, most people are now aware of just how much space they truly want or need. The fact that many people are now returning to work and school could have some influence over whether or not the trend toward larger spaces will continue in the future.
Open Floor Plan Remains The Top Option for Homes in 2021, Despite The Pandemic
Open floor plans continue to be the dominant and most popular floor plan for single family homes, capturing 91% of the vote. Many people have speculated the decline of the open floor plan for years, and this assumption has grown this past year as the pandemic forced families to carry out more activities at home than before, like working (and video conferencing), studying, cooking, and in some cases even isolate a member from the rest of the household. However, open floor plans offer the most flexibility out of any other type of home too, proving to be more adaptable, which may be the reason why it remains a more popular choice for many people.
Home Offices and Extra Storage are the Most Requested Additional Spaces in Single-Family Homes in 2021
When it comes to new home builds, the two most frequently requested additions are home offices and extra storage, which score 4.3 and 4 out of 5 respectively. Given how many people have begun working from home in the last year, home offices have increased in popularity across the country. Building one into a new home, rather than converting an existing space, can be easier while allowing for more customization.
Extra storage can be used in a number of different ways. From organizing supplies for working or studying at home to keeping seasonal items on hand but out of sight when not in use, storage will almost always be used. It makes sense, therefore, that many people would request additional storage when customizing a new home build.
94% of Experts Agree that Multi-Purpose Spaces are Here to Stay
94% of respondents felt that multi-purpose spaces were going to gain in popularity in the near future. These spaces are much easier to create in open floor plans than in other types of home. So it stands to reason that this can be the driving force behind the open floor plan’s popularity. With a multi-purpose space, it makes it easier to switch between working and relaxing, than rooms that are dedicated to a single purpose only.
Home design expert Sarabeth Asaff adds “The family room has really emerged as a multi-purpose space for many homes and families. Depending on how it's set up, it can be used for study or work, entertainment, relaxing, and even exercise. Having a good layout and multi-purpose furniture helps.”
Experts were also asked which is the most common multi-purpose space they are seeing in single-family homes this year, and the combination of guest room and home office was by far the most popular choice. Indeed, guest rooms seem to be the most popular room to be converted into a full-time home office according to recent studies, and seems a logical consequence of the shift to remote work and the decrease of meetings in private spaces due to the pandemic.
Home Remodeling Trends 2021
Gen X Are the Most Likely to Remodel an Older Home, Instead of Buying a New One
When asked which group of homeowners is more likely to remodel an older home, 43% answered that Gen X would be the most likely to do so. 34% felt that Millennials were up to the task, while 23% answered Boomers. Gen X does outperform both Millennials and Boomers just slightly in terms of overall income ratio, while Millennials tend to be better educated. It could be that Gen X is simply ready for the challenge of an older home, or they could be better able to take on the unexpected costs that purchasing and remodeling an older home may bring.
In general, a new build costs more than buying and remodeling an older home. While remodeling will add considerably more costs onto this project - up to $150,000 if remodeling the entire home - most of this can be spread out over time, while you live in the home. If your starting budget is lower, doing this can allow you to make the changes slowly as your budget allows, while building new means needing to finance all at once.
Kitchen Remodels and Bathroom Remodels are Homeowners’ Top Priorities in 2021
When it comes to priority, 88% of respondents say that the kitchen is the most likely space to be remodeled in 2021. This is followed by bathrooms at 56%. Both kitchens and bathrooms have long been two of the most frequently updated rooms in the home. Both score high in terms of the “Joy Factor” or how much personal enjoyment homeowners get from remodeling them. They are also the two most frequently used rooms in the house, so enhancing their aesthetics and functionality will surely improve household daily life.
Currently, kitchen remodels cost between $11,000 and $42,000 to complete, depending on whether you are simply updating surfaces or undergoing a full remodel. Current trends for kitchens include the use of quartz or quartzite for countertops, along with mix and match metals and easy to clean surfaces.
Bathroom remodels cost between $4,500 and $9,000, with costs fluctuating more due to the size of the space. The latest bathroom trends include spa-like elements and an increase in the use of bidets and bidet-toilet seats.
Outdoor Living Spaces are By Far the Most Popular Exterior Project in 2021
When it comes to exterior remodels, 82% or respondents feel that it’s hardscaping that will have the most appeal this year. Hardscaping includes things like porches, decks, and patios - all places where people can expand their living spaces to the outdoors. This is also well in line with how people have been spending their time for the last year. With so many people choosing to stay home rather than vacation, it makes ensuring that your outdoor living spaces are comfortable and functional more of a priority. Also, according to 85% of construction experts, homeowners are more willing to invest in outdoor living spaces than before the pandemic, relaxation and family gatherings being the two most common uses of this space.
Kitchens and Bathrooms are The Most Common House Additions in 2021
52% of respondents feel that a kitchen/dining room addition will be the most likely in the coming year, with 39% feeling that a bathroom addition will be the most likely and 34% believing that it will be the bedroom. Since the kitchen and dining room are two spaces that are most likely to be used for multiple purposes, including eating, learning, and working from home, it does make sense that homeowners may favor these areas over others. At the same time, having additional people at home at once will also put into perspective just how well the existing number of bathrooms works for a family, which may explain its popularity as well.
Location is The Main Driving Force to Rehab an Existing Home Instead of Opting for a New One
55% of homeowners prefer to rehab an existing home because they want to be in a specific area according to respondents. Another 48% like the lower purchasing cost that can come with the purchase of an existing home vs something new. Location can be a big driving factor, as not all areas are able to expand, and those that are may be further away from many attractions. And while remodeling a home can be expensive, it can also often be done over a longer stretch of time, which allows homeowners the ability to budget and stretch their finances further, which is difficult in a new build project.
Workshops and Home Gyms Are The Most Common Alternative Uses for Garages
49% of respondents agree that the most common alternative use for a garage is a workshop, followed by a home gym at 36% and additional storage at 31%. Those who are looking to start a home based business or who have a hobby that requires additional space may see a garage workshop as a cost saving measure. With the number of people who chose to start a home gym over the last year, it also makes sense that they may decide to locate it in the garage, rather than trying to find additional space in a home that is already being used for both work and school.
Build-to-Rent (BTR) Single-Family Home Communities
Private Outdoor Living Spaces and Parks Top the List of The Most Wanted Amenities in Build-to-Rent Communities
Responses were also mixed when asked which amenities were the most in demand in build to rent communities. 37% felt that it was balconies, decks, patios and other personal spaces. A further 37% also felt that it was parks and recreation areas - or shared areas - that were the most popular. 31% simply answered landscaping and green space - which can be translated to mean both personal and communal areas, depending on the situation. There has been a drive over the last year to spend more time outdoors. Whether alone or communally, this could be translating into a greater focus on creating more outdoor living spaces.
Couples With Kids are Most Common Tenants in Build-to-Rent Communities
44% of respondents felt that a typical profile for a single family home tenant was a couple with kids. 30% agreed that couples without kids were also common. Since kids often need more space - both indoors and outdoors - it could be that those looking for single family homes will be more likely to have kids than not. Couples without kids could also be looking for more space, particularly if they find themselves working from home together and needing more room to spread out.
Open Floor Plan Are Considered a Successful Layout in a BTR Single-Family House
Open floor plans are the most popular in build to rent homes as well, capturing 87% of the vote. Open floor plans are definitely the most flexible. And in a rental unit, where it’s harder to make permanent changes to your home, having an open floor plan can give you more space to configure it to meet your needs.
Millennials Prove to Be The Most Concerned About Healthy Homes
Millennials are the most concerned with healthy homes according to 62% of respondents. 28% felt that Gen Xers were concerned, while only 10% felt that the Baby Boomers were concerned with this issue. This could mean that they are simply more aware of issues that could impact them in the home than previous generations.
Ventilation and Water Quality are the Biggest Concerns of Homeowners in terms of Healthy Homes
Results were mixed when it comes to what homeowners are most concerned about in terms of the health of their home. Ventilation scored the highest at 4 out of 5, but water quality and toxicity were right behind at 3.9 and 3.8 respectively. Air quality also scored high at 3.7. Many of these categories do overlap with one another, which can explain how closely they score. Ventilation is tied to the air quality in many homes, while toxicity can be present in both the air and the water. Therefore, improving one area can have a direct impact on other areas as well.
HEPA Filters Are the Most Popular System to Improve Air Quality Among Homeowners
HEPA filters are predicted to be the most popular for improving air quality in the next year getting 43% of the vote. This could be because HEPA filters can improve air quality in several areas. HEPA stands for "high efficiency particulate air". This type of air filter can theoretically remove at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and any airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns. This means that it will be purifying the air and reducing at least some viruses as well, making other systems redundant.
With the recent events in 2020, many of the changes and predictions we’re seeing for 2021 will be a direct result of the last year. Home interiors are gaining a new focus on practicality, comfort and function. Whether you’re aiming to help your own clients get a better grasp on how to make their homes work for them, or you’re a homeowner wondering what changes to make to your home in the future, we hope that these results will assist you in the coming year.
For this report, Fixr.com received answers to an extensive questionnaire from 48 experts from the home construction industry. The survey given to experts to complete was made up of multiple choice and open questions. Some multiple choice questions gave respondents the choice to select two or more answers to get a more clear idea of the trends.
The chosen contributors were selected based on their extensive expertise, as well as their successful projects and reputable designs. Their combined responses represent a clear picture of current trends based on their innovative and expert knowledge.
Angela Marie Cacace
Bob Borson FAIA
Carmen De La Paz
Eric Corey Freed
Mark Macdonald, P.E.
Paul Brant Williger
Sabine H. Schoenberg
Susan P. Berry
Thomas C. Donnelly, ASLA