U.S. Home Buyers Would Trade Walk-In Closets for Physical and Emotional Wellness

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Hanley Wood research finds that 75% of Americans believe housing plays a key role in their health and well-being

“The Farnsworth Group survey findings indicate that more consumers are looking to builders to be part of their efforts to live healthier,” said Paul Tourbaf, President, Residential Construction Group at Hanley Wood.

Granite kitchen countertops and walk-in closets used to be among the amenities consumers looked for while house hunting. But their priorities are changing, according to new research from Hanley Wood, the premier information, media, event and strategic marketing services company serving the residential, commercial design and construction industries. Three-quarters of home buyers want design elements, products and technologies that promote good health and emotional well-being. Consumers now seek improved air and water quality, a better night's sleep and reduced medical costs.

In support of the BUILDER KB Home ProjeKt, a BUILDER Concept Innovation and Learning program, Hanley Wood commissioned The Farnsworth Group to survey people who have either recently purchased a new home or are actively shopping for one. The top line finding: 75% of people consider housing as essential or extremely important to their good health.

In other words, the majority of respondents expect their homes to play a significant role in helping them improve and maintain good physical health and emotional wellness. When asked "When you think of health and well-being, what comes to mind?", the top choices were:
1.    Having more energy (75%)
2.    Feeling better rested (65%)
3.    Reaching a better body weight (64%)
4.    Achieving a happier state of mind (57%)
5.    Feeling stronger or better conditioned (55%)
6.    Increased mental alertness (51%)

Additionally, two-thirds believe the right housing environment could cut their annual medical costs by as much as 40 percent.

These factors contribute to most respondents favoring health features over more conventional design trends and selecting features like insulated walls designed to reduce noise, high-performance windows with reflective coatings, net-zero energy and grow/green walls over more traditional amenities like outdoor kitchens, walk-in closets and golf course homesites.

“The Farnsworth Group survey findings indicate that more consumers are looking to builders to be part of their efforts to live healthier,” said Paul Tourbaf, President, Residential Construction Group at Hanley Wood. “The research also points to tangible design suggestions that builders nationwide can incorporate to meet their customers’ expectations at attainable price levels.”

Start in the Kitchen and Bedroom
When asked to select specific areas or features of a house they believe contribute the most to improving health and wellness, the bedroom and kitchen topped the list:

1.    Bedrooms and sleeping areas (77%): Includes the installation of lighting that matches the body's circadian rhythm, soundproofing, sonic experiences of music, and other features that promote a better night's sleep. Delos, the pioneer of Wellness Real Estate™ and a BUILDER KB Home ProjeKt partner, has developed its DARWIN Home Wellness Intelligence platform to address lighting that disrupts natural sleep patterns as well as other health concerns commonly occurring within the home such as poor air and water quality.

2.    Kitchen (54%): The most requested features include smart appliances that connect to nutrition and recipe apps, cabinet finishes that are free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), windows that maximize natural light, visible food storage and integrated indoor food gardens.

3.    Lighting (51%): Technology advancements now enable a lighting designer to mimic outdoor environments by incorporating dynamic lighting systems. For example, shower and dressing mirror lighting can replicate either bright morning sunshine to energize the body or dusk to signal it’s time to wind down for the night.

"Hanley Wood's research reveals a fundamental shift among consumers towards embracing a concept we call 'Wellness Real Estate' because they see their homes as an invaluable asset in supporting their physical and emotional well-being," said Barbara Spurrier, Managing Director of the Well Living Lab, which studies how indoor environments affect health and well-being. "Home builders are responding by combining architecture and design with cutting edge advancements in technology and science."

Priorities Evolve Over Time
The survey also found homeowners’ health and wellness priorities change as they grow older.

Respondents between the ages of 25 and 55 want to be athletic or physically fit. They place a higher emphasis on having more energy, feeling better rested and being in a happier state of mind than older Americans do.

People over the age of 55 are more focused on feeling alert and mentally sharp as well as minimizing medical needs and costs because they have been planning for a very different aging experience than their parents.

Baby Boomers want to continue living in the homes and communities where they've resided for many years and to stay active in the workforce, civic groups, churches and/or social clubs. They don't want to feel like they’re being forced to move into retirement communities.

“Realizing those goals requires considering how people’s needs change as they age,” adds Spurrier. "The challenge for builders is to create homes that are attainable for first-time buyers, families and empty nesters across all income levels. Good health and well-being is a right, not a privilege."

Hanley Wood has published a new report, "Defining Health and Well-Being at Home," that incorporates several key findings from The Farnsworth Group survey to make the case for developing universal building codes and standards that architects, engineers and builders can follow to ensure health and wellness features are standard in any new home. Click here to download the full report from the KB Home ProjeKt website.

“We believe that the best way to predict the future is to create it. Part of this process is understanding market trends and delivering the experience our home buyer wants and needs,” said Dan Bridleman, Senior Vice President of Sustainability, Technology and Strategic Sourcing for KB Home. “BUILDER KB Home ProjeKt is an example of a best-in-class collaboration that delivers exactly what home buyers are asking for—a home that betters the health and wellness of the people living there.”

About BUILDER KB Home ProjeKt
KB Home ProjeKt: Where Tomorrow Lives is a forward-looking concept home that breaks new ground in home building through innovative partnerships. It is led by KB Home, an industry leader in sustainability and innovation. The ProjeKt team aims to re-envision the home buyer's experience of home and community, and represents the ultimate exploration of health, wellness, attainability and sustainability in a volume home building framework. This best-in-class home will be revealed in January 2019 at the Inspirada master-planned community in Las Vegas. To learn more, visit KBHomeProjekt.com

About Hanley Wood
Hanley Wood is the premier company serving the information, media, and marketing needs of the residential, commercial design and construction industry. Utilizing the largest analytics and editorially driven Construction Industry Database – powered by Metrostudy - the company provides business intelligence and data-driven services. The company produces award-winning media, high-profile executive events and strategic marketing solutions. To learn more, visit hanleywood.com.

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1. The Farnsworth Group and Hanley Wood, June 2018 survey of 300 homebuyers and homeowners.

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Sheila Harris
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