Roughly one-third of home buyers are looking for a home with two full bathrooms, and roughly one-third of both new and existing homes have exactly two full bathrooms. But over half of buyers want a home with more than two full baths, and that’s where new homes do a much better job of matching current preferences.
According to NAHB’s recent What Home Buyers Really Want survey, 43 percent of recent and prospective buyers want a home with either two and a half or three full baths. That matches exactly the percentage of new homes built in 2011 with two and a half or three full baths. On the other hand, relatively few existing homes, and even fewer existing homes on the market for sale, have that many bathrooms.
According to the official definitions, a full bathroom has hot & cold running water, a sink, a toilet, and a shower or bathtub. A half bathroom has hot & cold running water and either a toilet or shower/bathtub.
The distributions of buyer preferences for number of bathrooms and actual number of bathrooms in new and existing homes are shown in the table below. From the table it’s easy to see that new homes matches what buyers say they want quite closely, with the new-home distribution skewed only slightly toward the high end (more than three full bathrooms).
In contrast, the distribution of bathrooms in existing home is skewed strongly toward the low end. About a third of existing homes—and 40 percent of existing homes that on the market for sale—have fewer than two full bathrooms, something relatively few home buyers say they want.
In the table above, data on new homes comes from the Survey of Construction public use file, and is based on single-family homes started in 2011. Data on existing homes comes from the 2011 American Housing Survey and is based on homes that are classified either owner-occupied or vacant for sale. Both surveys are funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Policy Development & Research, and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.