More and more, new home builders are listening to their buyers when designing their new home models. And more and more, those decision making buyers are, in fact, women. In statistics taken from the Joint Centre for Housing Studies, they discovered the following;
* More than one in five home buyers is a single woman.
* Twice as many unmarried women are buying homes than single men.
* Single women make up more than one-third of the growth in real estate ownership since 1994!
Women home buyers come in all sizes, shapes and ages. They are divorced, never married, separated and widowed - some have children, others live with friends or partners and many live alone. What they have in common is that they have the financial means to be able to purchase their own home, and new home builders are taking notice and acting on this according to a recent article in the Ottawa Citizen.
Calgary builder Shane Homes spent eight months meeting with 10 women who had recently bought new homes. The builder incorporated their wish lists into two different models with the second winning provincial design honours! And five years later, it’s still part of the builder's lineup of homes. The builder also adopted key suggestions - including bigger windows, more storage, and convenient computer areas off the family room and upgraded ensuite bathrooms, in many of its other homes. These homes went on to win design awards and the 10 women who helped design it are now on a permanent advisory board.
It seems that Ottawa builders are learning the same lessons. "The primary focus for women is the spacious kitchen," says Margaret Gallo, owner of Sienna Homes. "They like light and openness and the open concept, with the kitchen, and great room and the dinette." They've also learned a Thomas home-inspired trick for the ensuite bathroom: Make it into a spa. It's the one place women can go to relax. Use glass for the shower stall and as many windows as possible. "Women like natural finishes - they go for the Zen thing. A lot of our ladies are looking for luxury faucets," says Gallo. Her female customers are also big on the spacious mudroom and they like full closets near the entrances.
Carmen Fleguel, president of Holitzner Homes, sums it up quickly: "What women are looking for is organization and convenience." To that end, they include many cupboards and shelving in closets in their designs. In the bathrooms, their vanities have doors and drawers where makeup and jewelry can be easily organized. In closets, they include two-tier shelving and they often offer two walk-in closets in the master bedroom. In the ensuite, there are deep roman bathtubs and moulded shower surrounds for easy cleaning. Holitzner also gives four colours of paint for interiors, and five different types of doors - from traditional to modern - giving buyers more ways to express themselves. Asked how they know what women want, Fleguel says it was simple: "You have two women (she and her sister, Heidi Laurysen) running a business."