New home trends: Larger yards trump interior square footage

■ By Matt McPherson / Columnist

Large expanses of outdoor space have recently taken precedence among home buyers. A recent survey by Wakefield Research on behalf of Taylor Morrison (a national home builder) discovered that many potential home buyers are willing to give up some inside space on larger homes in the hopes of getting a bigger yard.
In fact, 56 percent of those surveyed explained they would be willing to sacrifice interior square footage in order to get a more sizable outdoor space. Surprisingly, the survey also revealed increased distance to the neighbor’s home was the most important exterior feature. Among millennials, 48 percent believe the extra distance is a priority, while 53 percent of non-millennials emphasize the extra buffer as a dominant factor when purchasing a home.
This new trend has revealed that curb appeal has taken a backseat to yard siRoofing finishes, siding, exterior paint colors and driveway styles are not as desirable as they used to be when compared to the amount of space available on the property. Another unforeseen statistic is that more women than men want bigger yards. While 62 percent of women surveyed preferred a substantial exterior space over interior square footage, only 51 percent of men were willing to sacrifice interior space for larger exterior space.
“Demand for more elaborate exterior space continues to rise, and blending indoor-outdoor living to address customer preferences is critical to our success,” said Sheryl Palmer, CEO for Taylor Morrison. Smaller lot sizes and escalating land prices as a result of local approval have played a huge factor, Palmer added.
Throughout the country many builders are adjusting their development and property designs to conform to the new demands of more exterior space. Floor-to-ceiling retractable glass walls that open to the outside, outdoor living rooms, and matching tile that extends from the home’s interior to its exterior, create a unifying theme inside and out.
Charlie Enochs, Taylor Morrison area president for the central region said, “Outdoor living is no longer an afterthought to a home’s construction.”
Those surveyed explained that they were willing to spend an additional $10,000 to $15,000 in their new home, with outdoor living items as the number one priority. Many said they would prefer an outdoor upgrade over new cabinets or a kitchen island.
As a whole new demographic of home buyers enter the market, the design and layout of new construction is evolving. Smaller homes and larger yards seem to be the trend for the moment and is what to expect in the coming decades. Technology has miniaturized many things, making a large interior not as much of a necessity. A growing culture of outdoor enthusiasts has forever changed how developers approach new construction and how neighborhoods will be designed.

Matt McPherson is a licensed real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Associated Brokers, BRE # 01362837. Reach him at 951-315-7914 or

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