Move-up homes, traditionally purchased by families who have outgrown their first house, are as in demand as ever. But builders say today's buyers have different preferences than their predecessors.

Rather than providing more space, move-up homes have evolved to offer features designed to fit the hectic lifestyles of today's buyers, usually families with young children. Those families can also include adult children who have returned home or aging grandparents.

The formal dining room, once a mainstay of move-up homes, has been replaced by such amenities as low-voltage connections for recharging mobile devices, drop zones for school books and backpacks at the back door and open, efficiently planned interior spaces.

“Homes are not as compartmentalized anymore. Formal dining is out the door. People don’t sit down and eat dinner so much anymore. But they still check in and come together,” said Todd Reynolds, vice president of Goodall Homes.

Layout is crucial

As they seek to eliminate spaces they don't use, homeowners are demanding more space in the rooms where they do spend most of their time.

“The focus is on how the home is laid out. We don’t necessarily see people looking for 3,500 square feet; 2,800 square feet is better if it has the pieces of the puzzle,” Reynolds said.

That includes drop zones to organize clutter, open floor plans with kitchens open to the great room and smaller secondary bedrooms.

“People want the space where they live,” said Reynolds.

Some move-up buyers simply aren’t looking for a larger home. A modern, open floor plan, elegant finishes, nearby schools or the ease of commuting are more important, said David McGowan, president of Regent homes.

“The bottom line is lifestyle,” he said.

Smaller but more functional

When Donna and Justin Hastings bought their move-up home, they moved from a three-story house in Mt. Juliet to a two-level home in Nolensville.

“We had more space than we actually needed. The (new) house has a lot of bonuses we didn’t have,” said Donna Hastings.

Their house in Nolensville was built by Regent during last year’s Parade of Homes to showcase the latest ideas in homebuilding. An example is a wall that folds away like an accordion to open the great room to the back porch. The upstairs bonus area includes a wet bar.

“It’s actually smaller than our house in Mt. Juliet, but it has so many upgrades. It is so elegant, so geared toward for entertaining, the perfect home to have a Super Bowl party,” she said.

The outdoor living space is perfect for family time together.

“There’s a fireplace where (their daughter) can do s’mores,” said Donna Hastings.

Livability counts

The livability of a home counts more than the amount of space under the roof, said Christina James, director of sales for Lennar.

“Move-up does not always mean more space. You might think of moving up as upgrading,” she said. “Some homebuyers are looking for more space, but others are searching for a better location, more successful schools, amazing community amenities, luxurious features and open floor plans.”

Most homebuyers today want high ceilings that give the feeling of extra room, energy-saving features such as LED lighting, the latest appliances and two- or three-car garages, said James.

For many homeowners, some of the more important upgrades aren’t inside the house; they are in the surrounding neighborhood.

Planning ahead

In neighborhoods like Tollgate and Bridgemore in Thompson’s Station or Carellton and Durham Farms in Sumner County, they are seeking opportunities for an outdoor lifestyle — without having to leave the subdivision.

The want “a community designed to provide them with opportunities for outdoor leisure activities like hiking trails, sport courts, swimming pools, splash pads and lakes or ponds,” said James.

Goodall Homes, which builds in Sumner, Wilson and Williamson counties, has floor plans for multigenerational families. The room that once was the dining room can become a separate suite for an aging parent.

“They may use it as an office today, but later it becomes a bedroom,” said Reynolds. “People are thinking further down the road when they buy a home.”


This article was written by , For The Tennessean

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