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Evolving Answers: ‘What Do Americans Want in a Home?’

What do Americans want in a home? COVID-19 has led to a change in the ways consumers might answer that question.

Some obvious responses—space, comfort, bigger yards, simpler surroundings, lower payments—have emerged about a year into the pandemic. The latest Bank of America study gave the industry some new ideas to consider.

Bank of America’s 2021 Homebuyer Insights Report showed that a vast majority of shoppers seek "vibrant and connected communities," good neighborhoods, and improved technology in the home. Some buyer desire is a result of regularly seeing into others' homes, virtually. In addition, during a time in which America faces economic uncertainty and, in fact, our own mortality, many appear to be revaluating bigger-picture lifestyle choices, including the importance of homeownership when it comes to building wealth.

“Over the last year, people have had plenty of time at home to reassess their priorities and goals, including how their living space and surroundings fit into their lives,” said AJ Barkley, SVP, Neighborhood Lending and Retail Sales East Executive, Consumer Lending at Bank of America. “We know homeownership remains as important as ever, especially for younger generations looking for that sense of community.”

It has been well established that homes nationwide are selling at record-high prices and faster than ever. While low housing inventory and low interest rates are often factors in property purchasing decisions, Bank of America’s 2021 Homebuyer Insights Report found that a sense of community and good neighbors also are key priorities for today’s homebuyer.

According to the survey of 2,000 adults who currently own a home or plan to in the future, half (51%) of younger buyers,  those ages 18 to 43, and nearly one third (32%) of those ages 57 to 75 say "community" has become more important over the past year. Specifically, people want neighbors who share similar interests (73%) and are active in the community (70%).

"Along with a desire for more space and smart home technology, individuals are looking for a sense of connectedness and belonging when it comes to where they live," according to the authors of the report.

Interestingly, the report shows that the desire to keep up with the Joneses, so to speak, has evolved beyond competition over who has the greenest yard or nicest car in the driveway, now that people regularly see one anothers' homes due to stay-home recommendations.

According to the Bank of America report, "the past year has also given people a peek into the homes of their coworkers, family, and friends amidst the virtual environment. Three quarters (75%) have participated in video calls, and of this group, 37% have gotten ideas for something to do in their own home. A quarter (25%) have even asked others for information on where something was purchased or how a certain renovation was done based on what they saw."

The study also looks at the financial status of the demographics most likely to purchase a home during "these uncertain times."

Says BOA, 65% of "younger" homeowners reported their financial security has remained stable compared to 51% of non-homeowners in the same age group.

"It’s no surprise that 18- to 43-year-old prospective buyers are eager to swap unpredictable monthly rents with steady monthly mortgage payments," noted BOA.

About 46% of respondents in that age group said building equity is now more important than ever.

They reportedly recognize that homeownership is a way to build long-term stability.

“Homeownership is one of the most positive drivers of wealth creation,” shares Barkley. “That’s why we recently tripled our financial commitment to affordable homeownership solutions, which include grants to help home buyers with their down payments and closing costs, with no repayment required.”

View BOA's Bank of America’s 2021 Homebuyer Insights Report at about.bankofAmerica.com.

About Author: Christina Hughes Babb

Christina Hughes Babb is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, she has been a reporter, editor, and publisher in the Dallas area for more than 15 years. During her 10 years at Advocate Media and Dallas Magazine, she published thousands of articles covering local politics, real estate, development, crime, the arts, entertainment, and human interest, among other topics. She has won two national Mayborn School of Journalism Ten Spurs awards for nonfiction, and has penned pieces for Texas Monthly, Salon.com, Dallas Observer, Edible, and the Dallas Morning News, among others. Contact Christina at christina.hughesbabb@thefivestar.com.

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