Homebuyers are searching for open floor plans, bright windows and outdoor living space in new construction, according to local builders.
Between June 2018 and May 2019, 907 new homes were sold in the four ZIP codes that make up Leander and Cedar Park, and 981 new homes sold in the previous year, according to data from the Austin Board of Realtors.
Glazier Homes, a homebuilder based in Cedar Park, builds custom homes in the North Austin area. Owner Jared Glazier said hardwood floors, open floor plans, large windows and tall ceilings tend to top his clients’ wishlists.
Outdoor living space is often a homeowner’s first focus, Glazier said. People want a pool, cabana house and a shaded area. Despite the heat, outdoor living is a high priority, he said.
Curb appeal is then the second concern for Glazier’s clients, and Glazier said he has seen a shift in design styles in the past few years. Previously, beige, “Tuscan Texas”-style homes with granite countertops were popular. Today, people are looking for modern farmhouse-style homes with clean lines and quartz counters.
“Six years ago, we were doing the Hill Country or Texas Tuscan look with tan colors,” he said. “Today black, white and blue are really popular.”
When it comes to floor plans, Glazier said he has recently built more single-story homes. Homeowners have requested first-floor media rooms because they will use them more without a separating staircase. But this requires a larger lot, which can be hard to find in Cedar Park and Leander’s markets.
Smart home features, such as remote-controlled thermostats, pools and garage doors, have become a standard rather than a special request for Glazier’s homes. Homeowners can control swimming pools, lights and garages from their phones or tablets. He said clients also request charging stations for cars, even if they do not own one.
“It’s not one of the first things they ask for,” he said. “They just kind of expect to have all those things.”
In the developing Deerbrooke community in Leander, Perry Homes has made smart technology a standard across all new homes with wireless thermostats, automatic lights and keyless entries.
Aimee Marino, a sales professional in Perry Homes’ Deerbrooke community, said energy efficiency is important to new homebuyers, so these smart features are a priority.
Buyers also value a dedicated home office. Marino estimates that 70 percent of new home buyers request a home office because at least one person works from home. Working in Austin but living in Leander can lead to long commutes, so home requests have shifted to include a dedicated home office space so people can work from home.
“A lot of people really have to have a true designated office, maybe a little bit further from a living space, to offer your privacy and quiet for that person working from home,” Marino said.
Marino said new home buyers also desire an open floor plan with large windows and light colors. Kitchen requests often include large flat islands with ample counter space and cabinets.
She has also noticed an increase in single-story homes, likely due to a greater resale value, and a decrease in formal dining and living spaces in younger generations. She credits the single-level trend to families living more connected.
Parents want to cook in the kitchen and watch their children play in a downstairs game room, instead of out-of-sight upstairs, she said.
“That’s a generational thing with our culture,” Marino said. “You have all this space up there, and no one is ever up there.”
Marino was familiar with the Cape Cod-style homes in the northwest before moving to Texas. She said she was surprised to see the darker-colored Hill Country style when she moved here six years ago. But she said the modern Cape Cod style has followed her into Texas.
“It’s cool, because now I can see those trends are really catching on,” she said. “That’s probably the biggest trend I have seen. Now everything is light and bright and not so Texas Hill Country.”
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