What 1,240 Homeowners Said They Want in a Healthy Home

By: Alison Rice

Builders should highlight these four features to engage with home buyers who care about health and wellness, according to new research from the New Home Trends Institute.

Daylighting and views play a role in healthy home design. Pictured: Wonderland Homes’ Downtown Superior (Cool.) Townhouses. Photo courtesy Wonderland Homes

If you’re marketing your healthy homes based primarily on your usage of no- or low-VOC paints, you might want to rethink your approach. While such coatings are an important part of building clean homes, consumer expectations have moved beyond just paint, according to new research by John Burns Real Estate Consulting’s New Home Trends Institute.

Just 21% of homeowners consider low- or no-VOC paint as a must for a healthy home, just one step above the 20% who see a home gym an essential, says the Irvine, Calif.-based research firm.

What do People Want in a Healthy Home?

Admittedly, it varies.

“When asked what they would require of a healthy home, homeowners give a wide range of answers, signaling that ‘healthy home’ means very different things to different people,” says the report, which surveyed 1,240 homeowners in late 2020.

But there are a few areas of agreement, and they might surprise builders.

“The majority of homeowners believe that easy-to-clean surfaces and bedrooms designed for restful sleep are requirements of a healthy home (57% and 53%, respectively), yet healthy home packages rarely include and market these features,” the report notes. “These results highlight an opportunity to create and include more products that help us sleep better and make cleanup easier.”

When 1,240 homeowners were asked which healthy home feature is the more important, air filtration/purification was the clear winner, according to the New Home Trends Institute research report.

4 Healthy Home Features that Home Buyers Care About

Ready to rethink your healthy home approach for 2021? Here are four features worth highlighting, based on the report, Healthy Homes: Stealing Market Share from Resales.

1. Clean air. Buyers expect a healthy home to have good indoor air quality, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they understand the how and why of air filtration, purification, and ventilation.

“Most homeowners read ‘kitchen and bathroom ventilation’ and assume odor prevention. They do not realize that it also prevents walls from being covered in grease over time and mold/mildew from growing,” the report notes.

Memorable displays or digital experiences that explain the process and the health benefits can help buyers realize the value of these systems, and the considerable advantage of new homes compared to resale for this feature. Young families are the most aware of this issue, with 50% saying they were moderately to very concerned about the air quality inside their homes, according to the report.

2. Quiet, soothing bedrooms. Blame it on “COVID-somnia,” but tired buyers are looking for a home that will help them get their z’s. More than half (53%) of buyers said they felt a healthy home would need  to have “bedrooms designed for restful sleep,” according to the report. That might include thoughtful lighting, better soundproofing, and when all else fails, a nearby “snore room” for either the offender or the suffering partner.

3. Easy-to-clean surfaces. Allergy concerns, germ worries, and busy lifestyles for people of all ages mean that buyers are looking for surfaces, countertops, doors, fixtures, and more that are quick to clean and maintain. Fewer buyers (34%) are looking for surfaces that specifically repel germs, viruses, and bacteria.

4.Outdoor recreation areas. More than one-third (35%) of respondents said they would expect a healthy home to be located in a walkable community, and it matters to them. According to the survey, 76% of homeowners said they were doing more for their physical health this year, and 69% said they were doing more for their mental health. Walking trails, open space, and community fitness areas offer a great outdoor complement to builders’ (indoor) healthy home product.