Poll Finds Desires of '88 Buyers

The first-time home buyers of 1988 will want the same kind of suburban tract home that their parents might have purchased in 1958. They don't particularly care for condominiums or town houses.

That is one of the conclusions of a survey released by Carole Eichen, president of Carole Eichen Interiors Inc., Santa Ana, last week at the Pacific Coast Builders Conference in San Francisco.

Typical prospective buyers--29 years old, college-educated, married, no children, renting--want a 1,400-square-foot, contemporary-styled, single-family three-bedroom house within 30 minutes commuting distance from their jobs, the survey showed. The buyers are willing to spend $886 a month or 30% of their $35,000 annual combined income for this updated version of the classic tract home when they buy in two or three years.

Like Parents' Home

"Tomorrow's first-time home buyers, like their counterparts today, do not really want the maintenance-free convenience of small-space condominium living," Eichen said at the annual conference. "A condominium is a popular economic compromise, but young people prefer the same type of home their parents bought 20 years ago."

Of the potential home buyers randomly sampled in California, Arizona and Nevada by Impulse Research, Santa Monica, 70% are also willing to commute for the right features. Mortgage payments $100 a month lower topped the list of features that would cause those surveyed to add another 15 minutes to that half-hour commute.

"These are young traditionalists; they want a clean-lined, modern-designed home," Eichen said. The survey found that 33% prefer a contemporary-styled home, 18% want traditional, while the remaining buyers are split 17% each between Spanish--the most popular architectural style in Phoenix and Las Vegas--and Colonial or Cape Cod, favored more by residents of San Diego and Los Angeles.

Prefer 3 Bedrooms

Twice as many of those surveyed--62% to 31%--prefer a three-bedroom house over one with two bedrooms. Specific amenities that buyers want include the most wanted one (listed by 71% of those surveyed)--a fireplace.

Other popular features include a stall shower separate from the bathtub (52%); walk-in closets (43%); microwave ovens (41%, particularly popular with men); two-car garages (36%); air conditioning (30%) and greenhouse windows (22%, mostly women).

"The clear message to home builders today is to build a house for a pragmatic purchaser, but don't shortchange the buyer with bland design and cramped spaces," Eichen said.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World