Survey Reveals What Americans Want With Home Exteriors, Interiors

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR Magazine

More Americans are showing their love for the great outdoors with their homes, seeking more outdoor living spaces at home that can blend in with their indoor spaces too, according to the American Institute of Architects Home Design Trends Survey for the first quarter of 2012. AIA surveyed nationwide architects to discover home preferences. The first quarter survey focused on home layout and the use of interior and exterior space.

“In the last few years, outdoor living spaces have become the new ‘great room’ in terms of must-have items for home owners,” says Kermit Baker, AIA’s chief economist. “As people are more interested in adapting their property to their long-term needs rather than readying it for sale, we are seeing more attention paid to landscaping and features that have some return-on-investment like rainwater catchment systems.”

Nearly two-thirds of the architects surveyed said that outdoor living space, covered outdoor space, and outdoor rooms are increasing in popularity. The outdoor feature gaining the most in popularity, however, is low-maintenance, low-irrigation landscaping, according to the survey.

Architects also reported higher demand for exterior and security lighting.

Americans want to enjoy the outdoors but they also want to be comfortable indoors with a flexible, open space, the survey finds. Architects reported a continued rising demand among home owners for open space and flexible home layouts, such as wider hallways and fewer steps. More than half of the architects surveyed said that open space layouts are increasing in popularity, opposed to separately defined and enclosed rooms in a home.

Melissa Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, writing about home & design trends, technology, and sales and marketing. She manages the magazine's award-winning Styled, Staged & Sold blog.

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  1. Tracy whitworth

    Great insight. I’m seeing this a lot with buyers putting three season porches and outdoor fireplaces on their wish lists

  2. Sustainable rainwater harvesting systems are a great idea! Adding exterior and security lighting always helps, but sometimes you have to wonder if your weekends didn’t include mowing and trimming …how much time do you really enjoy the backyard?

  3. Several of my good friends have the rain barrels incorporated into there conservation plans here In DeCordova Bend Estates, in Granbury Texas. They have done a tremendous job of concealing the barrels, painting them the same color as the house and hiding them behind Knock Out Rose bushes, etc. Now all we need is some rain!

  4. Don McNulty

    I have been trying to sell my elegant home upper end home? It’s been on the market now sine February 2012, and we have seen on average about one showing per week except for a couple of slow times of about two weeks each time. However, with it being on the market and such a slow time I’ve begun to do research that perhaps I should have done at the beginning. I’ve become utterly astounded how ignorant real estate agents and brokers are when it comes to marketing and actually selling properties. I’m pretty adept at research and I can find a lot of content concerning the broker/agent marketing themselves for listings and building their own brand which I understand is an important component to sales but they are woefully lacking marketing copy, personal sales effort, individual web placement, etc.
    They rely too heavily on statistics, mls, and seller participation. I found a list of responsibilities for broker/agents to the seller which consisted of, they will prepare the paper work as a seller agent, they will place the listing on mls, they will stick a sign in the yard and the may place certain print adds. I own a new build 2005 which appraised for $436K in 05′. We have nine out of ten of the items listed in the America Architects Trends Survey with an added outdoor living space. The house is now listed at $363,000 which translates to $21,780 in potential commission. We tries to sale the same house two years ago and I would be willing to bet that the actual monetary layout by each agent to date amounted to less than $400. Now that I’m paying attention this leads me to believe that 99.9% of Real Estate agents are nothing more than glorified clerical presenters. In the view of this seller your industry is terribly ill equip to make any real difference in the actual sale of property.

    Just thought you all need to hear from the seller you pay way to much attention to yourselves.