Is Homeownership Dying?
In the quest for a new home, can you really get everything you want? If you’re looking for more space—bigger bedrooms, extra bathrooms, and plenty of closet space—you’re in luck! An analysis of new home development over the last decade shows houses are getting bigger. In fact, the average size of new, single-family homes sold in 2017 was 2,457 square feet. However, bigger homes come with a cost. Since 2015, new homes typically occupy 25 percent of the land they’re built on, a stark increase over the 14 percent of the land occupied by homes built in 1975. Bigger houses and less lot space mean one thing: smaller yards. So just how important is yard size to homebuyers, and what does the size of your yard say about how much time you or your family spend outside? For an outside look, we surveyed over 980 homeowners about how much they value yard space and the great outdoors. Read on to see how often small lots are deal breakers and how much fresh air families get when they prioritize their yard.

Prioritizing their property

Top outdoor features desired by homeowners By some estimation, the average homebuyer will look at 10 properties over 10 weeks before deciding which one is right for them. With so many options and time invested in the process, experts recommend creating a checklist to prioritize your wants versus needs before making a final selection. Nearly 70 percent of homebuyers wanted a large backyard when hunting for their current home, followed by a back deck (51 percent), outdoor entertaining space (46 percent), and a large front yard (almost 35 percent). For people who identified yard space as a priority, outdoor features were more of a need than an option. Nearly 77 percent of people who wanted a large backyard passed on a home that didn’t provide enough space, followed by 64 percent who did the same for a large front yard. Despite the short- and long-term costs of having a pool, almost 63 percent of people who wanted one turned down a home because it didn’t come with this feature.

Function over form

Top outdoor features, by reasons for wanting them Opting for a property with more yard space doesn’t just mean the occasional barbecue or having to keep up with landscaping. Research suggests spending more time outside can be beneficial to your health, resulting in lower blood pressure, a boost in mental health, and a lower risk of cancer. In one study, participants who spent time walking around trees performed better on a memory test than those in urban environments. 80% of people believed having a yard encourages people to be more active. In addition to the 4 in 5 people who believed having a backyard encourages people to be more active, a majority of people who wanted a back deck (nearly 78 percent), outdoor entertaining space (almost 74 percent), and large backyard (over 71 percent) wanted to spend more time outside. In most cases, a bigger yard was less about aesthetics and more about practical use. 71 percent of survey respondents said that a bigger backyard would help their family spend more time outside, around 59 percent believed it would be fun, and over 42 percent said it would help them lead a more active lifestyle.

Perception vs. reality

Top backyard activities, by generation Considering most new homes offer less in the way of yard space, and so many people passed on homes that didn’t meet their criteria, we asked survey respondents how often they put their outdoor space to good use. 42.7% of people wished they spent more time in their backyard. A majority of respondents described using their backyard to relax, led by over 89 percent of baby boomers and 86 percent of Gen Xers. Enjoying nature was another popular response, although The older generations were more inclined to have a barbecue, play with their pets, and play with their family.

Put to good use

Average daily hours spent outside Prioritizing a bigger yard doesn’t only mean you’ll have greater home value or a place to play with your pets—you could spend more time outside regularly. On average baby boomers were outside 2.1 hours more each week than millennials. On average, people with a backyard spent over an hour longer outside every week than people with no yard space. Baby boomers (1.5 hours daily) spent more than two hours outside every week compared to millennials, but Gen Xers weren’t far behind with 1.3 hours spent outside daily. Not only will having access to outdoor space encourage you to enjoy the fresh air more often but so will having pets or kids to entertain. Both dog owners and parents averaged more outdoor time than those without dogs or children. Research suggests dog owners are typically more likely to reach standard activity guidelines than people without four-legged companions. Average daily hours spent outside as a child When asked about the amount of time they spent outside as children, the youngest generation enjoyed less fresh air and sunshine than their parents or grandparents. Compared to nearly three hours a day as children for baby boomers and 2.5 hours for Gen Xers, millennials averaged just two hours of outdoor time daily when growing up.

Spend more time outside

New homes have gotten bigger, but yard space seems to be shrinking. Perhaps, as a result, studies show young children today spend less time outside than generations past, a shift that could be detrimental to their physical and mental health. As our survey revealed, some families still prioritize outdoor space when searching for a new home, and they often put their yards to good use. Not only do people with pets or children spend more time outside, but also people who have access to a backyard average more time outside weekly. No matter how big your property is, don’t let the task of keeping up with yardwork discourage you. At Porch, we’re passionate about simplifying the home improvement process inside and out. From landscaping to deck repair, irrigation, gardening, and patio design, the Porch Home Assistant has you covered. Available 24/7, the Home Assistant will match you with Porch Service Pros for every job, so you can spend time doing what matters most. Learn more about leaving the dirty work to us by visiting us with your home improvement needs.

Methodology and limitations

The above data were gathered by running a survey using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk Service. A total of 987 respondents were surveyed, with 87 baby boomers, 266 Gen Xers, 620 millennials, and 14 people from generations outside those. To qualify for this survey, respondents had to have bought a home in the last 10 years. All data presented in this study rely on self-reporting. Some issues can come with self-reported data, such as telescoping and exaggeration. To ensure respondents did not answer randomly, an attention check was used.


Fair use statement

Summer is right around the corner, and that means barbecue and pool season is upon us! Want to share the results of our nature-loving survey? The results of this study and any related graphics are available for any noncommercial use. We don’t need an invite to your shindig—just a link back to this page so that our team earns credit for their work.

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