National Survey Reveals Features Homeowners Want

December 17, 2019

Think granite countertops are passé? Think again – they’re almost twice as preferred as quartz. That’s just one of the findings of a national survey of U.S. homeowners conducted on behalf of Erie Insurance. The company commissioned the survey to gain fresh insights about homeowner preferences on a wide range of topics, including design and finish preferences, aging in place features, technology, energy efficiency and more.

There’s been some buzz over the past few years about the rising popularity of quartz, but the Erie Insurance survey found granite is still the preferred choice. When homeowners were asked which countertop material they would want if building a new home today, 40 percent said they would definitely want granite, compared with only 23 percent who said they would definitely want quartz.

“As a company in the business of protecting people’s homes and belongings, we’re always looking around the corner to see what’s next, so we can continue to meet the needs of not only today’s homeowners, but tomorrow’s as well,” said Bob Buckel, vice president, Erie Insurance. “It’s helpful to see which features homeowners prefer – and if our survey gets people thinking about their homeowners insurance and making sure they have the right coverage, so much the better.”

Other survey findings include:

  • Freestanding soaking tubs are seen as a hot trend, but only a fifth of homeowners (21 percent) would definitely want a soaking tub if they were building a new house today, compared with 34 percent who definitely would not. But almost half (45 percent) are on the fence, saying they might want one.
  • You’d think the convenience of having two sinks in the master bath would be a no-brainer but that’s not the case. While more than half of homeowners (54 percent) would definitely want two sinks, a fair number are undecided (33 percent might want them), and 13 percent definitely would not want them.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau has reported on the graying of America, projecting that for the first time in history, older adults will outnumber children by the year 2035. This trend has not, however, led homeowners as a whole to want universal design elements that would enable aging in place. Only about a quarter of all respondents (26 percent) would definitely want universal design features. The percentage is only somewhat higher (34 percent) among homeowners between the ages of 51 and 60.
  • When it comes to energy efficient features, about a third of all respondents (32 percent) would definitely want solar panels on a new home, but the feature is much more coveted by men than women (41 percent versus 28 percent, respectively). There were also significant gender differences regarding preferences for tankless water heaters – 41 percent of men would definitely want a tankless water heater compared with 32 percent of women.

Regarding homeowners insurance, Buckel said one troubling finding is the large percentages of people who either do not have guaranteed replacement cost coverage, or don’t know whether they do or not. Guaranteed replacement cost coverage protects against inflation by paying to rebuild a home in today’s dollars, regardless of what the homeowner originally paid for the home.

“One of the key takeaways from our perspective is that homeowners would benefit by talking with their insurance agent to make sure their policy has guaranteed replacement cost coverage,” said Buckel. “For many people, their home is their single biggest financial investment, and the last thing they would want is to find out too late that they don’t have enough coverage to rebuild it.”

When asked to write in what they would want in a new home, features ran the gamut from the practical to the luxurious. Some wanted more storage space and extra rooms, while others wanted luxuries like heated floors and heated driveways. Some were looking for spa-like features such as saunas, tanning beds and relaxation rooms. One person wanted a koi pond while another wanted a wine cellar. Two wanted safe rooms. One wanted a feature that’s probably not available for sale from any new home builder: a chef!