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Housing trends: what sort of houses are we looking for?

luxury modern_house_15_08_12Research by SmartNewHomes looks into the sort of houses that we want to buy and how certain housing trends are growing year on year.

Spike in buyer demand for luxury homes

The luxury new homes market has had a brisk start to the year, reports SmartNewHomes, which saw a 21% increase in searches for homes priced over £500,000 across the UK in January compared to the same period a year ago.

Luxury homes are now within reach of an increasing number of buyers. Homeowners who have remained in a secure financial position throughout the economic downturn, have in many cases benefitted from low interest rates which has allowed them to overpay on their mortgages and boost their equity. These homeowners have found themselves in a strong position and are now looking to move up the ladder to a low maintenance and energy efficient luxury home.

With new homes prices rising steadily (+3.2% during 2011, according to the SmartNewHomes Index), a luxury new home is proving an attractive option, with the prospect for strong future returns. The chronic shortage of new development is likely to help support price growth in the new homes market over the longer term.

Steven Lees, Director at SmartNewHomes, said:

“Developers are building high end homes in small numbers in areas where there is proven strong demand, which is generating strong competition from buyers and underpinning price growth. Luxury homes in desirable locations are increasingly sought after by buyers with greater spending power who have confidence in the market.”

High energy bills heighten consumer appetite for green homes

New research from SmartNewHomes shows that concern over rising energy bills has prompted a surge in interest in energy efficient measures among home buyers.

Over four fifths (82%) of buyers now actively look for energy efficient features in a new home, with the vast majority of those (77%) citing saving money on their energy bills as their main motivation, compared to just 12% who prioritise concern over the environment.

This demonstrates a remarkable change in attitudes since 2005, when research showed that 80.5% of buyers would not consider eco measures at all when buying a property.* Over this period, the average dual fuel energy bill has risen by 117% to £1,293, prompting a reversal in attitudes from consumers who are now far more interested in conserving energy and saving money.

The energy saving features which most appeal to homebuyers are ‘A’ rated appliances with low energy consumption, followed by solar panels and water butts for collecting rain water. A third of homebuyers were interested in generating surplus energy which they could sell back to the national grid, although the Government’s proposed cuts to the feed in tariffs, which pay households for renewable energy they provide, could dampen interest.

Steve Lees, Director of SmartNewHomes, comments:

“With Government legislation forcing housebuilders to build all new homes to Zero Carbon standards by 2016, it is encouraging that buyers are now more receptive to energy efficient measures. Rising energy bills are a major concern for most families, with 7 million households now in fuel poverty according to Consumer Focus the statutory consumer champion. Homebuyers can no longer afford to ignore the opportunity to save money on their energy bills by taking into account the green credentials of any home they are considering buying.”

Modern architecture rises through the ranks of home design favourites

Modern architecture has risen through the ranks of the public’s favourite home design, with one in four (24.6%) now preferring a property to have a contemporary look over more classic styles, reports SmartNewHomes.

Research carried out by the property website found that Victorian architecture was the most popular (25.6%) among respondents who were asked to vote for their favourite from a list of homes from different eras. This was closely followed by modern (24.6%) and Georgian (16.5%). Houses from the 1930s, however, which make up a significant proportion of the UK’s suburban housing stock, were the least preferred with only 3.3% of the votes. Tudor architecture was chosen by just 4.7% and 50s homes were selected by 5.4%.

This compares to a similar survey in 2006 which found that modern architectural styles came a lowly fourth place, some way behind traditional period styles such as Victorian and Georgian.

The growth in popularity of contemporary architecture could be attributed to the increasing investment that developers are putting into the design of their homes, with growing numbers employing external architects to come up with original and attractive designs which will appeal to today’s buyer, as well as offering an internal layout which suits their lifestyle. The change in public preference could also be attributed to the increasing importance of a property’s energy performance, with four in every five (81.8%) revealing they look for energy efficient features when buying a home, particularly at a time when energy bills are so high.

Steven Lees, Director at SmartNewHomes, comments:

“A property’s kerb appeal is extremely important to homeowners and it would seem that many more are being drawn to contemporary homes which have been designed for the modern day lifestyle, with garages, eat in kitchens and landscaped gardens. Victorian and Georgian homes will always remain popular with British homebuyers, typically offering spacious rooms, generous proportions and a bright and airy feel. But housebuilders are able to draw on the best features from these much loved architectural periods and incorporate them into modern designs which are better suited to today’s homebuyer and considerably cheaper to run.”

Nick Rogers, Design Director at Taylor Wimpey, adds:

“We’re certainly pleased contemporary architecture is winning more acceptance among the public. Our new home designs are based on customer feedback and research, thus our developments feature a range of architectural styles, including the traditional designs that maintain their lasting appeal. In addition, it’s important to us that new developments are designed to suit their architectural context and sit comfortably within their local environment.”

* Premier Guarantee research, August 2006

The SmartNewHomes Architecture Survey was answered by 1,250 respondents in December 2011.

About the author

SmartNewHomes is the UK’s number one website dedicated to listing brand new properties for sale across the UK. We’ve got the most comprehensive range of new build homes for buyers on all rungs of the property ladder, from luxury homes to advice and options for those looking to buy their first property.

If you enjoyed this why not check out more from our property expert, Sarah Beeny here

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