Outdoor kitchens, smaller homes are popular with young buyers

While only four percent of affluent households currently have outdoor kitchens, 13.6 percent say they’re planning to add one in 2014. The largest age group hoping to incorporate them is between the ages of 45 and 54, and more likely to have children in the home. Indoor kitchen amenities don’t necessarily translate to an outdoor cooking space. Outdoors is all about socializing. It is all about having fun and a great experience.

It may not be surprising that survey respondents consistently rated the outdoor kitchen as their favorite room in the house.

The number one item that current owners of outdoor kitchens regretted leaving out was a pizza oven. Backyard pizza ovens serve as a gathering place for guests to participate in the food prep process. It’s what I call ‘kitchen karaoke.


As Millennials enter the new-home market in larger numbers, homes will get a little smaller, but laundry rooms will be essential and technology increasingly prevalent, according to a panel of experts speaking at the recent International Builders’ Show.

National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Assistant vice president of research Rose Quint predicted that an increase in first-time buyers would drive down home size in 2015. The reason for an increase in first-time buyers, according to Quint: 3 million new jobs were created in 2014, about 700,000 more than the previous year “and the most since 1999.” At the same time, regulators reduced down payment requirements for first-time buyers from five percent to three percent and home prices have seen only moderate growth.

All these events lead me to believe that more people will come into the market and as younger, first-time buyers they will demand smaller, more affordable homes. Of the Top 10 features, four have to do with energy efficiency: Low-E windows, Energy Star-rated appliances and windows and programmable thermostats. The top features: A master bedroom walk-in closet and a separate laundry room.

When NAHB asked millennials what features fill their “most-wanted” shopping list, a separate laundry room clearly topped the list, with 55 percent responding that they just wouldn’t buy a new home that didn’t have one. Storage is also important, with linen closets, a walk-in pantry and garage storage making the Top 10 – along with Energy Star certifications. In fact, Millennials are willing to pay two to three percent more for energy efficiency as long as they can see a return on their power bills.

If they can’t quite afford that first home, respondents said they’d be happy to sacrifice extra finished space or drive a little farther to work, shops and schools, but they’re unwilling to compromise with less expensive materials.

A significant 75 percent of Millennials want to live in single-family homes, and 66 percent prefer the suburbs. Only 10 percent say they want to stay in the central city.

Millennials seek less expensive, lowmaintenance choices like a brightly painted front door, strings of garden lights, and landscaping that needs less watering and mowing, such as succulent plants and larger patios. They’re also very comfortable with their smart phones and tablets, and increasingly seek ways to control their heating, air-conditioning, security and lighting, as well as electronics like televisions and sound systems from their phones.

A growing number of lenders are reducing down payment requirements so that borrowers can contribute three percent or less of a home’s purchase price and still qualify for financing. Most lenders target the new deals at buyers with stellar credit scores and steady income who have not been able to save enough for a substantial down payment. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insures home loans with down payments as low as 3.5 percent. Jack McCabe, an independent housing analyst in Florida, cautions that borrowers will likely incur higher costs over the life of the loan, including steeper interest rates.

June Savage is a Realtor associate in the Coral Gables office of ONE Sotheby’s International Realty, 1430 S. Dixie Hwy. She may be contacted via email at june67@me.com or by calling 786-202- 3211.

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