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America’s Dream Home: Midsized, Suburban and Modern

Americans are surprisingly practical when it comes to their dream homes. Being married and having children is one of the biggest drivers of homeownership, but age will likely determine the type of homes that people want.

For many Americans, homeownership is part of their personal American Dream. For some, this dream of owning a home is well within reach, but for others it may as well be a dream within a dream. But what does this dream home look like? And where is located? What amenities do people dream of most? To find out, an online survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Trulia surveyed 2,026 Americans in late May 2015 to tell us about their homeownership aspirations and the home they hope to buy one day. Here’s what we found.

First Comes Marriage, Then Comes Baby and House
With the U.S. housing market on the mend, 7 in 10 Americans (71%) said owning a home is part of achieving their personal “American Dream.” While still a majority, this is a notable decrease from 77% in 2010. Yet despite this downward trend, America is not becoming a nation of renters. Most Millennial renters aged 18-34 (89%) plan to buy a home one day – more than any other generation.

American Dream Home_WhoWantsToBuy

But as more people today forgo or delay marriage and children, homeownership has become more of a lifestyle choice than an expected life milestone. Among parents with children under 18 years old, 81% said homeownership is part of their American Dream. In fact, most parents – regardless of their marital status – plan to buy a home as their primary residence once day.

American Dream Home_KidsDriveHomeownership

More than 7 in 10 Millennials Plan to Buy in 2018 or Later
While many Americans aspire to become homeowners, most are not ready to buy a home. Only 14% of those who plan to buy say they will do so within the next year. Most (69%) plan to wait at least two years.

In tracking the housing recovery, the intentions of Millennials has been a key indicator that we’ve been following. Why? This generation of first-time homebuyers was hit hard during the recession, and their ability to find jobs, move out of their parents’ homes and form their own households, and eventually become homeowners is a key part of a healthy housing market. Of the 18-34 years old who aspire to become homeowners, 72% said they plan to buy a home in 2018 or later. The sense of urgency only increased when marriage and children were involved.

American Dream Home_When

When Do You Plan to Buy (Another) Home as Your Primary Residence?
All Married without Kids Under 18 Married with Kids Under 18
Within the next 6 months 4% 6% 9%
7-12 months from now 7% 10% 18%
13-24 months from now 17% 29% 20%
More than 2 years from now 72% 55% 53%
Note: Among Millennials (18-34 year old) who plan purchase a home

So what’s holding Millennials back from homeownership? Money. Only 36% of Millennials are currently saving up to buy a home in the next five years. Most (52%) have their eyes on a new car, while others have shifted their priorities towards college tuition (35%), a trip of a lifetime (26%), a wedding (15%), retirement (9%) or an engagement ring (8%). Nevertheless, this generation remains optimistic with 87% believing that they will be able to purchase their dream home one day.

Most Americans Aren’t Dreaming About McMansions or Tiny Homes
Only a small subset of Americans (just 35% of homeowners) said they’ve already purchased their dream homes – that means an overwhelming majority are still searching for a perfect place to call “dream home”. In fact, over one quarter of Americans are regularly searching for a dream home online with 28% looking at least once a month. So what does the American dream home look like? Well, it really depends on how old you are.

In general, Americans aren’t big fans of McMansions or tiny homes. In fact, 44% want a home between 1,401 and 2,600 square feet – one that’s neither too small, nor too big. However, as people get older, their dream home gets smaller.

American Dream Home_HomeSize

How Big Is Your Dream Home?
All Millennials (18-34 Year Olds) Gen X (35-54 Year Olds) Baby Boomers (55+ Year Olds)
800-1,400 square feet 10% 5% 7% 15%
1,401-2,000 square feet 21% 17% 18% 25%
2,001-2,600 square feet 23% 20% 24% 24%
2,601-3,200 square feet 14% 16% 15% 11%
More than 3,200 square feet 11% 12% 14% 7%
Not Sure 22% 29% 22% 17%

Moreover, Millennials and Gen X gravitate towards modern homes, which can often have newer home amenities and technologies. Baby Boomers, on the other hand, want ranch homes (aka single-story homes that are typically more accessible and without stairs).

And contrary to what you might think, only 6% of millennials would prefer a high-rise penthouse. That said, they are still 6X more likely to prefer this type of home than any other generations – even those with kids under 18. Similarly, only 4% of millennials dream of converted lofts, while Baby Boomers have no affinity for converted lofts at all.

American Dream Home_Style

What Does Your Dream Home Look Like?


Millennials (18-34 Year Olds) Gen X (35-54 Year Olds) Baby Boomers (55+ Years Old)
Modern Style Home 18% 22% 17% 16%
Ranch Home 15% 6% 13% 23%
Victorian or Craftsman Style Home 11% 13% 12% 7%
Farm House or Log Cabin 10% 10% 11% 9%
Colonial or Southern Plantation Style Home 8% 8% 8% 7%
High-rise penthouse apartment 3% 6% 1% 1%
Converted Loft 2% 4% 1% 0%


31% 37%


Note: “Other” includes options such as Mediterranean style home, townhouse and houseboat, as well as other.

Americans Dream of Suburbs Over Cities
When describing where their dream home is located, most Americans wanted to live in the countryside (27%) and suburbs (27%) rather than in the heart of a major American city (8%). This was especially true for Baby Boomers and Gen X. But for Millennials, living a short commute to work (34%) and in a great school district (34%) were far more important that the actual location. But generational differences aside, there were some notable geographical preferences.

American Dream Home_GeoLocation

Top Dream Home Amenities: Decks, Gourmet Kitchens and Open Floor Plans
Americans love to entertain and eat. The top dream home features were social spaces where guests could gather and mingle, namely a backyard deck, open floor plan, or balcony with a view. Food-related amenities like a gourmet kitchen or vegetable garden were also popular. But as for private spaces, 44% of men wanted a man cave whereas only 17% women wanted a she shed (aka, a recreational room for the ladies).

American Dream Home_Amenities

Top “Dream Home” Features
% of Americans Who Want This Feature % of Homes Listed for Sale on Trulia as Having This Feature in the Last Year
Backyard Deck 59% 8.5%
Gourmet Kitchen 47% 2.0%
Open Floor Plan 46% 3.9%
Balcony with a View 45% 1.3%
Vegetable Garden 40% 0.1%

Millennials, compared to any other generation, want it all. Given the option, 18-34 year olds would like all the latest and greatest amenities in their dream home – especially want a balcony with a view.

Top “Dream Home” Features for Millennials
Balcony with a View 60%
Backyard Deck 59%
Gourmet Kitchen 53%
Swimming Pool 52%
Open Floor Plan 45%

Generation X, however, followed the national trend with most wanting a backyard deck. The only variation was that 35-54 year olds preferred having a swimming pool over a vegetable garden.

Top “Dream Home” Features for Gen X
Backyard Deck 65%
Gourmet Kitchen 50%
Open Floor Plan 47%
Balcony with a View 46%
Swimming Pool 44%

Similar to Generation X, Baby Boomers want a backyard deck, open floor plan and gourmet kitchen. But unlike other generations, the 55+ age group has a green thumb with 37% wanting a vegetable garden.

Top “Dream Home” Features for Baby Boomers
Backyard Deck 55%
Open Floor Plan 46%
Gourmet Kitchen 41%
Vegetable Garden 37%
Balcony with a View 33%

All in all, Americans are pretty realistic and practical when it comes what they want in their dream home. Most people aren’t looking for a grand mansion, tiny home or even a home with an iconic architectural style – they want a mid-sized, modern home in the suburbs with a backyard deck. This is likely because the dream of homeownership is largely driven by marriage and children. Having a duel income makes buying a home more affordable, while parents often want the stability that comes with owning a home. As a result, many would-be homeowners dream of finding a home where they can raise their families. Such is the game of life.


This survey was conducted online within the United States between May 26th and 28th, 2015 among 2,026 adults (aged 18 and over) by Harris Poll on behalf of Trulia via its Quick Query omnibus product. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, the words “margin of error” are avoided as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in our surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.


Spin Cities: Where Renters Pay The Most For In-Unit Washers and Dryers

Doing laundry sucks and having to go to a Laundromat each week sucks even more. But the hassle may outweigh the added cost of having an in-unit washer and dryer, depending on where you live. In Philadelphia, renters pay a 20% premium to have laundry within their rentals, while those in Dallas-Fort Worth pay a 3% premium.

Mark Uh
June 16, 2015

Summer is coming. But instead of spending the endless days of the season lounging by a pool, many renters will inevitably spend a portion of their days hauling laundry down the block or across town to their local Laundromat.

Here at Trulia, we (and your landlord) know that having an in-unit washer and dryer is a coveted amenity that often ranks high on renters’ list of must-haves. But just how much extra in rent are you likely to pay each month to not have to collect quarters or haul your skivvies down the street for the world to see?

Trulia took a spin through the large multi-family buildings listed for rent on its site and found that across 13 top metro areas, in-unit washers and dryers command a 10% per month premium on average.

Those living in Philadelphia pay the biggest premium for in-unit laundry to the tune of 20%, or $211 extra in monthly rent. Those living in Seattle pay 4%, about $29 more in rent each month to avoid having to brave the rain with their laundry baskets in tow.


Where Renters Must Pay The Highest Premiums for an In-Unit Washer Dryer *
U.S. Metro(click on hyperlinks below to access interactive neighborhood maps) Average  % Rent Premium Average $ Rent Premium % of Multifamily Rentals Listed as Having a Washer / Dryer Median Year Built Median Rent
Philadelphia 20% $211 48% 1965 $1200
Los Angeles 17% $325 26% 1987 $2095
San Francisco 14% $245 35% 1979 $2620
Boston 14% $255 36% 1956 $2000
Chicago 11% $168 56% 2001 $1796
New York 10% $175 20% 1958 $2100
Houston 9% $139 36% 2001 $1450
Washington 8% $133 58% 1996 $1750
San Diego 8% $118 37% 1986 $1750
Atlanta 7% $73 33% 2000 $1200
Miami-Fort Lauderdale 5% $79 42% 1990 $1650
Seattle 4% $29 41% 1994 $1495
Dallas-Fort Worth 3% $33 26% 2002 $1200
*Please note that the washer/dryer premium in this study refers to the premium one must pay in order to live in an apartment that has a private washer/dryer within the unit. This premium does not apply to units that do not have a washer/dryer in-unit but do have communal washers/dryers on building premises.

The Down and Dirty On Laundry Costs

Anyone who has rented an apartment without laundry knows that it takes time, energy and a lot of quarters to get your clothes clean. Even if there are Laundromats within walking distance of your apartment, carrying 10lbs of laundry can be burdensome.

In large cities, wash and folds (places that do your laundry for you) cost around $1.00 per pound of laundry. Assuming that you do 10lbs of laundry per week, you will spend $40 per month. If you opt for cheaper, coin-operated machines, at $3 a load you’ll pay a least $12 a month.

If you live in Seattle or Dallas-Fort Worth, renters could be better off renting a unit with a washer and dryer because the costs of doing laundry offsite are similar to the washer/dryer premium in those metros. In the other metros listed, however, you’ll pay anywhere from $73 to $325 extra, so renters on a budget will have to weigh the inconvenience of having to go to the Laundromat over the cost savings.

Sprawled out metros such as Philadelphia and Los Angeles likely have a greater washer/ dryer premium, because the distance from most apartments to the nearest Laundromats will be farther away. Metros where the cost of goods and living is more expensive (and presumably laundry services are more expensive) such as New York, San Francisco, and Boston also have high premiums.



Washer/Dryer a Must-Have Amenity? Start The Search Cycle In these Suds-Friendly Neighborhoods

Have you decided that having laundry in your apartment is worth the added premium? Below are some helpful maps showing renters which ZIP codes have the highest percentage (shown in dark green) and lowest percentage (shown in light green) of large apartment buildings with washer and dryers in-unit. Click on the maps to be taken to an interactive city map showing where you’ll find the highest percent of in-unit apartment washers and dryers.

PhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaNeighborhoods with the highest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Conshohocken, Manayunk, Northern Liberties, Callowhill

Neighborhoods with the lowest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Overbrook Farms, Millbourne, Walnut Hill 

Los AngelesLosAngelesNeighborhoods with highest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Santa Monica, Pasadena, Studio City, Little Tokyo, Skid Row, Arts District

Neighborhoods with lowest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Woodland Hills, View Park–Windsor Hills, Wilshire Center, Koreatown

San FranciscoSanFranciscoNeighborhoods with the highest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Inner Richmond, Laurel Heights, Lone Mountain, South Beach

Neighborhoods with the lowest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Twin Peaks, Diamond Heights, Glen Park

BostonBostonNeighborhoods with highest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Downtown, South End, Mission Hill, South Boston

Neighborhoods with lowest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Fenway/Kenmore, Allston/Brighton, Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan

ChicagoChicagoNeighborhoods with the highest % of in-unit washer/dryer: West Loop Gate, The Loop, River North, South Loop

Neighborhoods with the lowest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Roseland, South Chicago, South Austin, Garfield Park

New York NewYorkNeighborhoods with the highest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Midtown West, Lenox Hill, Tribeca, Hudson Square, SoHo

Neighborhoods with the lowest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Greenwich Village, West Village, Midtown East 

HoustonHoustonNeighborhoods with the highest % of in-unit washer/dryer: South Main, River Oaks, Fourth Ward, Westbury, Willow Meadows

Neighborhoods with the lowest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Gulfgate-Pine Valley, Greater East End, Magnolia Park, Afton Oaks

District of Columbia DCNeighborhoods with the highest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Shaw, LeDroit Park, Capitol Hill, Arlington – Clarendon

Neighborhoods with the lowest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Southwest Waterfront, Fort Dupont, Shepherd Park

San DiegoSanDiegoNeighborhoods with the highest % of in-unit washer/dryerScripps Ranch, Mission Valley, Mission Valley East, Torrey Highlands, Rancho Pentasquitos

Neighborhoods with the lowest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Barrio Logan, Kensington, Normal Heights, University Heights, El Cajon

AtlantaAtlantaNeighborhoods with the highest % of in-unit washer/dryerNorthLake, Sandy Springs, Lindridge-Martin Manor, Lindbergh

Neighborhoods with the lowest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Redan, Lithonia, Union City, Atlanta University area

Miami MiamiNeighborhoods with the highest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Downtown, Dodge Island, Virginia Key, Upper East Side, Morningside, Edgewater

Neighborhoods with the lowest % of in-unit washer/dryerBrownsville, Allapatttah, Coral Way, Miami Shores, El Portal

Seattle SeattleNeighborhoods with the highest % of in-unit washer/dryerWoodinville, Cottage Lake, Kingsgate, Totem Lake

Neighborhoods with the lowest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Canyon Park, Pioneer Square, West Lake, South West Union

Dallas DallasNeighborhoods with the highest % of in-unit washer/dryerLos Colinas, Broadmoor Hills, Deep Ellum, Castlemere, Willow Bend, Breckenridge Park

Neighborhoods with the lowest % of in-unit washer/dryer:
Southwestern District, Grand Prairie, University Park, Downtown


Data is sourced from the Zillow Group rental listing database. We looked just at units in multi-family apartment buildings for rent between September 2014 and February 2015. For each metro area, the listings were split into quartiles based on the age of the building. We then took the difference between the median rent of apartments that have a washer/dryer and apartments that do not have a washer/dryer in order to obtain the ($) premium for each quartile. We averaged these ($) premium figures in order to obtain the average ($) premium for each metro.


Woulda Shoulda Coulda: Real Estate Regrets to Avoid

Trulia’s latest consumer survey revealed that 52% of people regret something about their current home or the process of choosing it. This season, under the pressure of tight inventory, buyers and renters have to try hard not to make the same mistakes

Spring house-hunting season is upon us. Home searches peak in March and April, and this year the search is especially frantic as inventory is near a 12-year low. Many homes don’t stay on the market for long, so buyers will have to move fast – especially in markets with bidding wars and competing investor activity. But when it comes to searching for a home, as with everything else, moving too fast leads to mistakes and regrets. To find out which regrets are most common – and who is most prone to making decisions they’ll later regret — we asked more than 2,000 consumers what, if anything, they regret about their current home and most recent home-search process.

… continue reading


Housing Market 53% Back to Normal

Trulia’s Housing Barometer improved in February, up 20 percentage points from one year ago

Each month, Trulia’s Housing Barometer charts how quickly the housing market is moving back to “normal.”  We summarize three key housing market indicators: construction starts (Census), existing home sales (NAR), and the delinquency-plus-foreclosure rate (LPS First Look). For each indicator, we compare this month’s data to (1) how bad the numbers got at their worst and (2) their pre-bubble “normal” levels.

In February 2013, all three measures held steady or improved:

  • Construction starts notched up. Starts were at a 917,000 annualized rate, up 0.8% month-over-month and up 28% year-over-year. Aside from a December spike in construction, February starts were at the second-highest level since July 2008. And 31% of February construction starts were in multi-unit buildings–compared with the typical level of 20%. Construction starts are now 43% of the way back to normal.
  • Existing home sales also increased. Sales rose slightly to 4.98 million in February from 4.94 million in January. Year-over-year, sales were up 10%. Excluding distressed sales, conventional home sales were up 25% year-over-year in February. Importantly, inventory–which has been very tight and could hold back sales–rose almost 10% in February, which is a bigger jump than the typical seasonal increase. Overall, existing home sales are 70% back to normal.
  • The delinquency + foreclosure rate dropped. The share of mortgages in delinquency or foreclosure dropped from 10.44% in January to 10.18% in February, and is now at its lowest level since October 2008. The combined delinquency + foreclosure rate is 46% back to normal.