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Housing Trends: Preferences Have Changed, Energy-Efficient Windows Remain a Constant

According to the IBSx presentation “Home Trends, Buyer Preferences and Must-Have Features For 2021,” there have been some pretty big shifts in homebuyer desires since the beginning of 2020. Remote work, remote learning and living more at home have made a real impact on the housing market.

Here are a few examples cited in the presentation:

  • Home size – Between 2016 and 2019 house size preferences trended down, landing at 2,486 square feet in 2020. But there’s reason to believe that number is going to rise in 2021 for the first time since 2015.
  • Location – Prior to the pandemic, 26% of homebuyers were looking to move to outlying suburbs. That number has now climbed to 30%, which is the biggest jump in all location categories. People looking in close-in suburbs, rural areas and central city downtown have each declined by 1% since the pandemic began. Those looking in central city (outside of downtown) stayed flat, accounting for only 9% of homebuyers.
  • Exterior Style – Besides states on the Pacific coast (California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska) where a contemporary look is most desirable, a majority of buyers are looking for a traditional home rooted in historic styles. The least desirable is the modern home with bold, boxy looks and flat roofs.
  • Flex Space and Blended Outdoor – Interior floor plans have also evolved with more people looking for tucked away areas to work and learn away from the hustle and bustle of common areas. There’s also an increasing desire for indoor/outdoor living spaces, including outdoor kitchens and dining.

But sometimes the most interesting trends are the ones that have not changed. The ones that remain constant in a world that is changing daily. The good news for the fenestration industry is that energy-efficient windows are in that category.

According to the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) Housing Market Index Survey, Low-e windows are in the top three most likely features in a new home in 2021 as reported by a panel of homebuilders from across the U.S. They are third only to walk-in closets in primary bedrooms and the addition of a laundry room.

And for homeowners, 83% cited that ENERGY STAR®-rated windows are either essential or desirable. That is the highest in the “green features” category, followed by ENERGY STAR appliances at 81% and efficient lighting at 80%. Surprisingly, triple-pane windows also made the top five list of green features with 73% saying they are either essential or desirable.

With a trend toward blending indoor and outdoor spaces plus the continued desire for energy-efficient windows, the wants and desires of homebuyers are favorable for our industry. It’s all about comfort at home, and we are poised to deliver.

Are you noticing any window design trends in your region? I’d love to hear about them. Email me at

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