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What do buyers want more — a bigger house or a bigger yard?

08/17/2017

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Smaller homes with more outdoor space seem to be all the rage lately as homebuyers are abandoning the motto “bigger is better” when it comes to square footage.

According to a consumer survey by Wakefield Research commissioned by residential construction company Taylor Morrison, 56 percent of buyers would be willing to sacrifice having a larger house for a larger yard. Why?

Fifty-six percent of homebuyers surveyed would be willing to sacrifice a larger house to gain a larger yard, according to a 2017 consumer survey conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of Taylor Morrison. (PRNewsfoto/Taylor Morrison)

Larger yard space means extra “breathing room” from neighbors — something that 48 percent of millennials and 53 percent of non-millennials say is the most important exterior feature of a home, beating other outdoor elements such as siding, driveway style, exterior paint color and roofing finish.

“Outdoor living is no longer an afterthought to a home’s construction,” said Taylor Morrison’s area president Charlie Enochs. 

Homebuyers today are interested in indoor areas that flow seamlessly outside, using sliding glass walls, and matching floor materials that flow from inside to outside patio areas. Photo: Sea Summit community by Taylor Morrison, in San Clemente, Calif. (PRNewsfoto/Taylor Morrison)

Buyers who have extra outdoor space aren’t just sitting and watching the grass grow. They’re actually transforming backyards into outdoor living rooms and kitchens, and they are adopting design elements such as floor-to-ceiling retractable glass walls or sliding doors to easily connect indoor and outdoor space.

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Urban side setbacks (the space between buildings) are traditionally forgotten about, but at Taylor Morrison Treo community in Scottsdale, Ariz., this space is an efficient side-yard for entertaining and pets. (PRNewsfoto/Taylor Morrison)

Survey respondents noted that if they had an extra $10,000 to $15,000 to decorate their new home, they’d spend it on outdoor furniture and decor.

Taylor Morrison Lighthouse and Echo communities in Orange County, Calif., incorporate outdoor living areas, multiple balconies and views from roof decks, when the home square footage is already maximized, providing valuable outdoor living space and bringing ocean views to customers in an affordable way. (PRNewsfoto/Taylor Morrison)

Outdoor space as an investment

In a previous Inman story, HomeAdvisor said the cost of blended spaces can range from a few hundred dollars for an outdoor swing to $20,000 for an extended roof. Although that may seem like a pretty penny to spend on an outdoor feature, the upgrade could result in big bucks when it’s time to sell.

“Agents can help buyers to get over the sticker-shock by pointing out the potential to utilize the backyard as a living space,” said HomeAdvisor Chief Economist Brad Hunter.

“This could make a 2,000-square-foot home live a bit like a 2,200 square-foot-home. That’s a 10-percent reduction in the price-per-square-foot value ratio.”

Email Marian McPherson.

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