The ideal home is elusive to many. In fact, The Demand Institute recently polled more than 10,000 households — both renters and home owners — across income levels to find their top unfulfilled housing needs and desires. Their research reveals a whole range of unmet housing-related desires in America — gaps between what Americans have and what they say they need or want.
They call this the “Satisfaction Gap.”
“The biggest overarching thing is that when it comes to their homes, there are still a lot of things that Americans want to improve,” says Jeremy Burbank, vice president of the The Demand Institute, about its report, “The Housing Satisfaction Gap: What People Want But Don’t Have.” “There’s a desire for things like more space, privacy, and safe neighborhoods that are often attributed to single-family homes and ownership.”
According to the households polled, here’s what they don’t have that they wish they did:
Most households value energy efficiency; few describe their homes as energy efficient. Average household spending on home electricity has grown 56% since 2000, outpacing other housing-related expenses (which grew at 38%). This has many households looking for ways to make their homes more energy efficient — 90% of households have taken some measure in the past five years to consume less energy.
A desire for energy efficiency will drive renovations, maintenance,and new technology use: for instance, 51% of households would consider buying an energy-use monitor.
America’s housing stock needs work. More than three-quarters (78%) of households in the United States say their home requires repairs. The Great Recession led households to delay major improvements and repairs: Home renovation spending decreased each year from 2007 to 2010. Since 2010, however, spending has been steadily increasing.
Top 5 Major Home Improvement Jobs
(% Likely to Do Job in Next Three Years)
1. Painting Walls – 30%
2. Replace Carpeting/Flooring – 25%
3. Remodel Bathroom – 20%
4. Remodel Kitchen – 18%
5. Replace Windows/Doors – 17%
Consumers plan to increase spending on home improvement in the next few years. A desire for move-in-ready homes will drive a continuing demand for new home construction.
Updated Kitchens and Finishes:
The kitchen remains one of a home’s most important rooms, but many American kitchens are in need of an upgrade, particularly after several years when spending on major appliances and renovations declined. With Americans reporting that they are cooking and eating at home more now compared with five years ago, the kitchen may only grow in importance.
Sixty-two percent of households say an updated kitchen with modern appliances and fixtures is important; only 38 percent are satisfied with their current home’s kitchen.
The kitchen will remain a key driver of home renovation activity. New “smart” appliances could drive continued growth in home appliance spending: 49% of households would consider purchasing a smart appliance.
Accessibility – Aging Friendly Homes:
The population is getting older — the number of households headed by someone 65 or older is expected to grow 10 times faster than other households between now and 2020. Most older movers will “age-in-place,” but many are still looking for homes where they can age more comfortably.
Seventy-six percent of Americans surveyed believe a home they can stay in as they get older is important, but only 53 percent think their home meets that criteria. Baby boomers are increasingly interested in single-story homes, but they aren’t necessarily interested in slimming down the home’s square footage, Burbank notes.
One in five Americans surveyed say they are unsatisfied with the cost of their current living situation. Twenty-six percent of owners and 40 percent of renters are spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing expenses. Eighty-one percent say it’s important that their housing costs fit their budget without requiring sacrifices. However, 60 percent say they’ve achieved this, while the rest say they do have to make sacrifices to afford their home. Hybrid options between renting and owning, such as lease-to-own arrangements, may provide opportunity for renters who aspire to ownership.
While crime across the country has been consistently falling for more than two decades, many Americans still do not feel safe in their communities. More than one in five households say their neighborhoods have become less safe in recent years. This is no
longer just a big-city sentiment — two-thirds of households claiming their neighborhoods have become less safe are in non-urban areas.
More-affordable wireless, smart home-security systems and public-safety apps will make home and neighborhood security options available to more Americans.
Privacy still matters to Americans, and they regard their homes as a refuge from the outside
world. More than half of all households (54%) report that they are spending more time at home these days. Only 9% say they are spending less time there.
Suburban and single-family homes will continue to appeal to many Americans — in part because they afford more privacy. Outdoor space
is also going to continue to be a priority for many.
More Space for More Stuff:
Americans still love to shop, yet lack enough space to store all their acquisitions.
Nearly half (47%) of households have two or more refrigerator/freezers, and 48% have three or more TVs. Indeed, more than half (52%) are “always looking for ways to create enough storage space for their households.”
A home with ample storage space is an important feature households identified, and it’s one of the key reasons they want to renovate, too. Fifty-five percent of households say a home with storage space is important, but only 35 percent are currently satisfied with their home’s storage space.