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New Homes: Better Than Ever

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As an unsustainably hot housing market slows down to "real time," buyers are seeking answers to lots of questions about how to find the right home. And while the old real estate saying about the three most important attributes being "location, location, location" still has some truth to it, today's consumers are more savvy and discerning. Location is only part of the equation: It's also about conveniences and amenities.

And for conveniences and amenities, it's hard to beat a new home. Today, new homes are safer, more efficient, and more packed with popular amenities than ever.

Safety

Technological advances mean that today's homes are safer, because new homes take advantage of breakthroughs in building science. Homes now have advanced electrical systems, hardwired smoke detectors, and fire-resistant construction details. Windows in patio doors and near stairways have tempered glass, which makes them less likely to cause injury if they break.

Efficiency

Home builders also have an ever-expanding array of products and materials to choose from to enable them to make a house more resource-efficient and water-thrifty. Many home builders participate in programs like Energy Star, promoting energy-efficient appliances, and WaterSense, promoting water efficiency.

"Green" building is another new trend that's getting legs as builders return to age-old practices, such as siting a home to take the best advantage of sunlight and shade, and recent innovations such as solar shingles (not just solar roof panels), light-conserving windows, and insulation made from recycled materials. Innovation and consumer demand are combining to produce a "leaner" home. Technology has changed, and so has the market.

Lifestyle

Today's new home plans reflect what today's homebuyer wants: larger kitchens for family gatherings, bigger closets, ample storage space, and more bathrooms. Consumers are seeking greater ceiling heights, more -- and bigger -- closets, walk-in showers with multiple heads, three-car garages, and outdoor entertainment spaces with fireplaces and grills. And builders are responding with designs that provide these features.

In fact, that's a big reason why people seek new homes. Consumers want value, but they also want choices. They want to pick their carpet colors, their cabinet styles, their light fixtures, and other design elements that help make a house a home.

The decisions shouldn't be about whether it's a good time to buy a home, because home ownership remains the American Dream, despite occasional highs and lows in the market. The decisions should be about personal choice: finding the home that's right for the buyer. Choosing a new home helps make it a perfect fit. ■

Keith Grant is president of the Memphis Area Home Builders Association.

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