Today’s consumers are more savvy than ever when it comes to purchasing habits that fit their lives best, and there are few purchases more life-changing than buying a new home. While some might prefer one style over another, or be willing to trade space or size with a better location, there are some must-haves that a majority want.

When the National Association of Home Builders recently surveyed 3,247 prospective home buyers, they discovered exactly what most people want in newly constructed homes. Some of the features were obvious (such as ceiling fans and exterior lighting), while others might not be what you’d expect.

1. A dedicated laundry room

Whether it’s a family seeking more space with multiple kids or young professionals buying their first home, 87% of prospective home buyers want a dedicated laundry room to keep the clothing and bedding clutter hidden away. This can be especially important for households where sports uniforms, sweaty workout gear, toddler clothing, and pet bedding is in constant wash rotation.

2. Open layout

A home with an open layout encourages family time, visits from friends, and a place suitable for the many ways in which households can grow. The survey found that 85% prefer an open arrangement between kitchen and dining room, while 79% like the kitchen and family room to be open.

3. ENERGY STAR rated windows and appliances

As energy costs continue to rise, buyers of newly constructed homes are focused on those that feature windows and appliances that are energy efficient. The NAHB survey showed that 83% want ENERGY STAR rated windows while 81% prefer ENERGY STAR rated appliances. The same goes for lighting, as 80% of new home buyers want lighting that will save on future energy costs and be more environmentally friendly.

4. Patio

Home buyers love patios, and the survey found that 82% look for one in a newly constructed home. Between cookouts with family and friends and relaxing while watching the sunset after work, a patio is a must-have feature that will make the home more attractive to buyers. Most home plans include a patio of some sort, and plans can be redrawn to include one if necessary.

5. Environmentally friendly design (with a caveat)

One of the most interesting findings from the survey revealed that although 78% of new home buyers want one that is built to be environmentally friendly, only 15% of those want to pay extra for it. This means that while a “green” design is a great feature to list while putting a home on the market, if building it required significant extra cost, the environment might benefit but the cost is less likely to be recouped at closing.

Home building best practices

Home builders watching the market closely should be focused on the distinguishing details that will make a home more livable, more open, and energy efficient. Not only are these great selling points, but many can be included in the build at little to no cost while attracting a much wider portion of interested buyers. Staying on top of what the majority of new home buyers want is the key to continued success in the middle of volatile markets.