2018 Ashton Woods National Homebuyer Survey

Executive Summary


September 11, 2018


In order to identify trends in home design preference and priorities, Ashton Woods surveyed 1405 people ages 27 to 70 who are looking to move from their current home within the next 10 years. Participants were surveyed across the United States regarding their preferences for home design and what they want to see in their next home. At least 100 participants were surveyed in each of the following cities: Atlanta, Austin, Charleston, Dallas, Houston, Orlando, Phoenix, Raleigh, San Antonio and Tampa. An additional 318 participants were surveyed outside of these areas.

The survey’s goal was to identify clear trends in what homebuyers want in their next home in terms of layout, design, style, bonus rooms, materials and finishes, leading to surprising results in some areas.

Ashton Woods asked future homebuyers what they were looking for in a builder and what builder options were most important. Future homebuyers said that customer satisfaction ratings and personalization options when designing their home were the most important considerations when selecting a builder. Their least important considerations were community amenities and specific brand options for materials or appliances. Future homebuyers also cited it was important to be able to select materials and design options in a single location.

Homebuyers are most frustrated with their current kitchens, backyards and master bathrooms – citing size and need for updating as the most common frustrations.


What’s In and What’s Out

  -  Given the current trend of all-white kitchens across design shows, participants surprisingly said they preferred natural wood kitchen cabinets over the all-white look.

  -  Future homebuyers said yes to hardwood flooring and said no to carpet.

  -  The shower-tub combo in the master suite is getting the boot, and being replaced with more luxurious options, such as a walk-in shower and no bathtub or a separate bathtub and shower.

  -  Participants prefer rustic wood elements found in the ever-popular farmhouse style but are saying ‘no thanks’ to industrial elements.

  -  For metal finishes, homebuyers continue to want brushed nickel. This is a clear example of buyers still running behind the new satin brass trend that Ashton Woods has been seeing among its homebuyers.  

  -  Participants preferred transitional and rustic interior design styles, followed by traditional, farmhouse and contemporary, while ditching the bohemian, coastal and Scandinavian styles.


Full Report


The 1405 survey participants voiced clear opinions on what they are looking for in their next home, revealing several distinctive findings and outlining trends in the home design space. Survey questions covered a variety of topics, from builder option preferences and prioritization of spaces inside the next home to preferences of materials, colors, finishes and styles. The survey revealed some interesting results and design trends that will shape the homebuyer and particularly the new construction design space over the next several years.


Builder Options

When selecting a home builder, participants said customer satisfaction ratings (31 percent) are the number one consideration. The ability to personalize their home with a variety of options was the second most important consideration (27 percent). Of least importance to participants when selecting a home builder were community amenities, e.g. pool, and specific brand options for materials or appliances.

The majority of participants (75 percent) said they are more likely to select a builder that offers design personalization options over one that does not, and 67 percent said they are willing to pay more for a home with a builder that offers those options. Participants also said it is important for them to have professional design services included as part of the services offered by the homebuilder (64 percent). When it comes to selecting the options for their home, participants said it was important to be able to select all the materials, finishes, colors, etc. in one place (78 percent) rather than going to a different location for each.


Next Home Needs

Overall, participants said their next home would ideally have three bedrooms (37 percent). 20 percent of participants said they are looking for fewer bedrooms in their next home, 33 percent are looking for the same number of bedrooms, and 46 percent are looking for more bedrooms in their next home.

Baby Boomers were more likely to say they wanted four bedrooms in their next home. While millennials were most likely to say they want three bedrooms in their next home, the second most popular choice among millennials was two bedrooms – whereas other generations’ second choice was three or four bedrooms.

Overall, participants said their next home would have two bathrooms (34 percent). 14 percent of participants wanted fewer bathrooms in their next home, 29 percent said the same number of bathrooms and 57 percent said they wanted more bathrooms in their next home.

When asked which areas of the home they are most frustrated with, participants said they were most frustrated with the kitchen (46 percent), the backyard (30 percent), the master bath (32 percent), the garage (26 percent), the master bedroom (23 percent) and the secondary bathrooms/powder rooms (21 percent). The other areas of the home where participants showed frustration included the formal dining room (15 percent), basement (14 percent) and the hobby/bonus room (14 percent). Four percent of participants said they were frustrated with “other” areas of the home. Fourteen percent of participants said they were not frustrated with their current home.

Baby boomers, Generation Xers and millennials alike were all likely to choose the kitchen as the key source of frustration in their current home. Baby boomers were most likely to say they had no frustrations in their current home.


Kitchen Preferences

The kitchen takes priority when it comes to budgeting for luxurious features among future homebuyers. Nearly three-fourths of participants said they would prioritize luxury features in the kitchen over other areas of the home.

Even though white cabinets have dominated the preference for kitchens for the past few years, especially in popular home design television shows, homebuyers want this space to have a warmer look, ditching the all-white kitchen and opting for natural wood cabinets and dark countertops. Participants said they preferred natural wood (30 percent) kitchen cabinets over white (17 percent) cabinets.

Baby boomers showed a particularly strong preference when compared to other generations for the natural wood look (45 percent).

For kitchen color combinations, participants said they preferred light cabinets with dark countertops (29 percent) and light cabinets with light countertops (23 percent). Given the current trend of light-on-light/all-white kitchens across design shows, this is another interesting turn of preference amongst consumers. When choosing their least favorite option, 32 percent of participants said they least preferred dark cabinets with dark countertops.

The different generations agreed across the board, except for millennials who showed a slight preference for light cabinets with light countertops rather than the majority’s favorite of light cabinets with dark countertops.

When choosing countertop materials, participants were more likely to say they preferred granite (33 percent), marble (24 percent) or quartz (12 percent) counters more than laminate (4 percent) or concrete counters (4 percent) as their top choice. While granite and marble still hold preference, Ashton Woods has seen an increase in interest for quartz – especially as homeowners learn the benefits the material has over granite and marble such as its durability and consistency in look.

Disagreeing with older generations, millennials slightly preferred marble countertops over the majority’s favorite – granite.


Master Suite Preferences

Size and location is key for homebuyers in the master suite. In the master suite, participants prioritized the size of the bedroom (44 percent), size of the bathroom (10 percent) and size of the closet (10 percent), as well as the location in the floorplan (18 percent) over other priorities such as special finishes or a seating area. In the master bathroom, 73 percent of participants would ditch the shower/tub combo. Participants preferred having a walk-in shower and no bathtub (37 percent) or having a separate shower and bathtub (36 percent) over having a shower/bathtub combo (27 percent).

Other priorities participants noted were the layout of the bedroom, the flooring, access to outside/backyard, privacy of bathroom, mirrored closets, windows/natural lighting and size of bathtub/shower.


Hobby/Bonus Rooms

When it comes to filling that extra square footage in their home, future homebuyers felt it was important to incorporate a dedicated laundry room (81 percent), a home office (67 percent) and an entertainment room (59 percent) in their next home.

33 percent of participants said they would be willing to spend up to $10,000 more on a hobby or bonus room, with 24 percent of participants saying they aren’t willing to spend additional money on a hobby or bonus room.

Baby boomers were less willing to spend more money on a hobby/bonus room than millennials and Generation Xers. Baby boomers and millennials were most likely to spend up to $10,000 on a hobby/bonus room.  


Places for your Pooch

The majority of participants (77 percent) were pet owners – having either a cat or a dog living in the home. Nearly half of participants who have a pet in their home (48 percent) said having a dedicated space for their pet in their next home is important. This group makes up 37 percent of overall participants. Millennials were most likely say it was important for their next home to include a dedicated space for their pets.


Style Preferences

Overall, participants showed a preference for the ranch architectural style (13 percent) and the modern style (13 percent), as well as cottage (9 percent), traditional (9 percent), farmhouse (8 percent) craftsman (8 percent) and Mediterranean (7 percent) styles. Victorian came in at 7 percent, followed by contemporary (5 percent), colonial (5 percent), transitional (4 percent), mid-century-modern (4 percent), Tudor revival (3 percent), Spanish (2 percent) and Greek revival (2 percent).

Baby boomers showed a clear preference for the ranch architectural style (20 percent). Generation Xers were split between the ranch (13 percent) and modern (13 percent) styles. Millennials showed a preference for the modern style (13 percent).

When it comes to interior design styles, participants were split equally (14 percent) among transitional, traditional, contemporary and farmhouse. Those styles were followed closely by rustic (12 percent). The other styles that were less preferred included French country (6 percent), industrial, mid-century-modern, and coastal (all at 5 percent), shabby chic and bohemian (both at 4 percent), and Scandinavian (3 percent).

Baby boomers said the traditional interior design style (17 percent) was their favorite, followed by rustic (15 percent) and farmhouse (15 percent) styles. Generation Xers showed a preference for the transitional style (17 percent) followed by farmhouse (15 percent). Millennials said the contemporary style (16 percent) was their favorite interior design style, followed by farmhouse (13 percent) and transitional (12 percent).


Interior Design Elements

Participants said custom built-ins (27 percent) were their favorite design element they would consider implementing in their next home, followed by decorative ceilings (21 percent).

Other design elements participants said they would like to incorporate included colored backsplash, arched doorways, wallpaper, window boxes, antique light fixtures, wood patterned tile, window treatments and fully tiled bathrooms.

Overall, participants said brushed nickel (21 percent) and stainless steel (16 percent) were their favorite metal finishes. Satin brass (two percent), satin bronze (three percent) and gold (four percent) were the least favorite material finishes. Ashton Woods has seen a recent uptick in requests for these finishes, which shows that the general consumer lags a bit behind the trend here. 

While baby boomers and Generation Xers both said brushed nickel was their preferred material finish, millennials disagreed with their elder generations, selecting stainless steel and oil rubbed bronze as their preferred material finishes.

By far, participants preferred hardwood flooring (38 percent) over parquet, luxury vinyl, laminate, carpet, tile and other flooring materials. Interestingly, carpet was selected as the second favorite option, but also made a strong appearance among the least favorite options – showing the polarizing nature of the flooring material. 



For the survey, 48 percent of participants were male and 52 percent were female. Of the participants, 72 percent currently owned their home. 27 percent of participants were single, 56 percent were married, 12 percent were divorced, 2 percent were engaged, and 3 percent were widowed. 

For the participants, the size of their existing home ranged from one to five bedrooms. The majority of households contained one to three people. Other residents in the home included spouse (56 percent), children (44 percent), parents (8 percent), partner (5 percent) and friends (3 percent). Nearly 5 percent of participants said “other” residents also lived in the home including siblings, in-laws, grandchildren, significant others, aunts/uncles, grandparents, roommates/housemates, nieces/nephews, other non-related adults, partners, grandchildren’s non-related parent, friends and cousins.

More than half of households did not have children currently living in the home. Of the households that contained children, 44 percent had one child, 37 percent had two children, 15 percent had three children, three percent had four children and less than two percent had five or more children in the household. 86 percent of children were 18 years of age or younger. Eight percent of children were college-aged children, ages 19 to 24. Six percent of children were 25 years of age or older.

About Ashton Woods
Ashton Woods is one of the nation’s largest private homebuilding companies, blazing new trails in design and personalization to build homes as unique as the people who live in them. Collaborating with homeowners for more than 25 years, the company and its team of world-renowned designers look beyond the conventional to draw inspiration from unexpected sources, resulting in exceptional design in every Ashton Woods home. Recently named Builder of the Year by Builder and Developer magazine, Ashton Woods has also been consistently recognized as one of the most trusted builders in America according to the Lifestory Research America’s Most Trusted® Builder Study, Ashton Woods’ collaborative approach is a key driver of its best-in-class customer satisfaction scores. For more information, or to experience the excitement of becoming another satisfied Ashton Woods homeowner, visit www.AshtonWoods.com.