In a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders, the following top ten features were identified as the most desirable in luxury custom homes.

Because a home is a complex commodity, with many features that can make it more or less desirable to particular customers, the NAHB survey included a long questionnaire, in which the analysis identified a group of features that cut across the gamut of kitchen, outdoor, specialty and community amenities and tended to be luxury items—not features strongly demanded by all home buyers, but luxury features usually appropriate in upscale homes, and usually inappropriate at the more affordable end of the price spectrum.

The top 10 upscale custom home features identified by this method are shown below.

#10. A Game Room

Some homes have a game room intended for specific recreational activities like playing pool or table top games. Only 27 percent rated a game room as rated essential or desirable.

Over one-third of buyers expecting to pay at least $500,000 who want a game room, compared to 25 percent for buyers expecting to pay under $150,000. At the other end of the preference scale, 36 percent of buyers expecting to pay under $150,000 explicitly say they are unlikely to buy a home if it includes a game room, compared to 27 percent of buyers expecting to pay $500,000 or more.

#9. Home in a Golf Course Community

Nearly two-thirds of all buyers say they do not want a home in a golf-course community, making it the second most “unwanted” feature out of the 120 included in the survey. Clearly, there are many successful golf course communities in the U.S., but it is something of a niche market.

#8. An Exercise Room

Much as some owners will set aside an area of the home for games, some want an area dedicated to exercise—often with a treadmill, weights, or other specific type of equipment.

#7. A Wet Bar

As the term suggests, a wet bar is a place for mixing and serving beverages that includes a sink. Plumbing and installing plumbing fixtures is a type of job 93 percent of single-family builders always subcontract, according to survey of builders NAHB conducted in July of 2012.

Given the added cost, it’s not surprising that this is another upscale item for which demand is concentrated at the high end of the price spectrum.

#6. An Elevator

Number 9 on the list (a golf course community), was the survey’s second most “unwanted” feature overall. Number 6 is the single feature explicitly rejected by home buyers more often than any other—an elevator, something a full 70 percent of all buyers say they do not want.

Like a golf course, to the extent that a niche market exists for elevators in single-family homes, it is strongly concentrated at the high end of the market.

#5. Two-story Entry Foyer

The top half of the list starts with a feature that is also linked to the underlying preference for a home taller than a single story—a two-story entry foyer.

A two-story foyer creates a visually impressive entrance at the cost of space that needs to be conditioned or could be dedicated to a more utilitarian function. (From the homebuilder’s perspective, it also introduces some complications in framing, covering and insulating the walls). This may help explain why 47 percent of buyers expecting to pay under $150,000 explicitly reject a two-story foyer when asked, compared to 26 percent of buyers expecting to pay $500,000 or more.

#4. An Outdoor Kitchen

Although an outdoor kitchen may be a relatively simple expanded grilling area, it may also be a more elaborate affair with many of the amenities found in an indoor kitchen, including a sink, refrigerator, lighting, cabinetry, and natural stone countertops.

It’s probably not surprising that what often amounts to a second complete kitchen constructed outdoors qualifies as a luxury item that seems primarily appropriate in upscale custom homes.

#3. Kitchen With a Wine Cooler

Following the outdoor kitchen, #3 on the list of upscale home features is an amenity sometimes included in indoor kitchens—a wine cooler. A wine cooler can be of almost any size, but when evaluating a cooler as an integral feature that would be included in the price of a home, most consumers probably envision something large enough to crowd out another appliance or essential general storage space in a smaller kitchen.

In the survey overall, it was one of only three kitchen features rated desirable or essential by fewer than 30 percent of the respondents. However, 46 percent of buyers expecting to pay at least $500,000 rate a wine cooler that favorably, compared to only 15 percent of buyers expecting to pay under $150,000.

#2. Two-story Family Room

Like a two-story entry foyer, a two-story family room consumes space that needs to be heated or could be used for some other purpose. The space consumed is generally greater for a two-story family room, because there is more floor space in the typical family room than the typical entry foyer.

Over half of buyers expecting to pay under $150,000 say they are unlikely to buy a home with a two-story family room, compared to 29 percent of buyers expecting to pay at least $500,000. And 32 percent of the $500,000-plus buyers rate a two-story family room as at least desirable, compared to only 18 percent of buyers expecting to pay under $150,000.

#1. Kitchen With a Warming Drawer

Like a wine cooler, a warming drawer is a specialty item that takes up space which would be allocated to more general purposes in a small kitchen. Also like a wine cooler, it is one of the few kitchen features rated essential or desirable by fewer than 30 percent of home buyers overall.

However, a significantly larger share (42 percent) of buyers expecting to pay at least $500,000 want a warming drawer, compared to only 15 percent of buyers expecting to pay under $150,000. Only 14 percent of the $500,000-plus buyers say they are unlikely to buy a home with a warming drawer—the smallest “do not want” percentage for any item discussed above, which helps explain why a warming drawer in the kitchen ranks as the #1 feature most appropriate in luxury custom homes.

Contact Jeffrey Harrington Homes for a builder interview and get started on your own luxury home. 713.626.5757