Homeowners looking to remodel and buyers hunting for a home look to the bathroom as the one spot they can find relaxation and privacy, meaning the features and products inside should lessen their headaches and maximize their wellness benefits.
Bathrooms with lots of storage, plenty of space, and plumbing products with advanced relaxation features were top desires from the 3,247 homebuyers surveyed by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) for its 2021 iteration of the “What Home Buyers Really Want” report.
Recent or prospective homebuyers shared their opinions on 18 bathroom features which they rated as either essential, desirable, indifferent, or unwanted. Out of those 18 features, 12 were deemed essential or desirable by more than half of the respondents.
This response illustrates the importance of bathrooms to prospective buyers and hints at important features for current homeowners looking to embark on a primary bath remodel. What’s more important to buyers though are their primary bathrooms. The top four features were ones specific to the primary bath.
The NAHB has conducted this survey six times, beginning in 2003. Since then, the same three features have remained in the top three spots, and the most changes over time have to do with toilets.
Similar to the kitchen portion of the study, age plays a significant role in a handful of desirable and essentially rated features. Margins between the youngest and oldest respondents reach 25 points for his and her baths, a skylight in the primary bath, a bidet, and dual toilets in the primary bath.
Between 20% to 25% of surveyed Baby Boomers rated those features as essential or desirable, while 48% to 60% of surveyed Millennials and Gen X considered those features essential or desirable. The NAHB notes that these differences remained from generation to generation even after controlling for other factors such as income and household composition of buyers (marital status, presence of children). Baby Boomers were also most vocal about disliking features, noted the NAHB, and desired the least amount of features.
Most Popular Bathroom Products and Features
The top 13 bathroom features and products rated essential or desirable by homebuyers and the percentage who chose that feature are:
- Linen closet in primary bath (76%)
- Both shower stall and tub in primary bath (74%)
- Double vanity in primary bath (69%)
- Private toilet compartment in primary bath (67%)
- White toilet, tub, and sink (65%)
- Granite vanity (65%)
- Ceramic tile walls (62%)
- Multiple showerheads in primary bath (59%)
- Whirlpool tub in primary bath (56%)
- Body spray panel in primary bath (56%)
- Cultured marble vanity (55%)
- Dressing/make-up area (52%)
- Skylight in primary bath (47%)
In the kitchen portion of the survey, more buyers deemed more features as essential and desirable. This could point toward buyers having a higher tolerance for bathrooms without all the bells and whistles.
And some popular features emerged as divisive among buyers. While 56% of buyers had positive opinions on whirlpool baths, 22% of respondents said it was a feature they do not want. The same goes for skylights: 47% would love this feature, but 28% would hate it.
The bath features today’s buyers do not want are dual toilets in the primary bath (40% said “do not want”), a bidet (36%), his and her baths (32%), only a shower stall in the primary bath (27%), and a colored toilet, tub, and sink (22%). Do note that many of these features were ranked desirable by younger generations.
Comparing the 2021 report to the previous five, opinions on toilets changed the most. Many features, as noted before, were steadily popular, but opinions on the color of toilets and layouts have shifted.
In 2003, just 34% of respondents said a white toilet, tub, and sink were essential or desirable compared to 65% today. Private toilet compartments in primary baths were desirable or essential to 54% of buyers in 2003 and 67% today, and dual toilets in the primary bath jumped 12% from 2015 to 2021.
These 18 features were the ones chosen by the NAHB, but it does not mean homebuyers do not pay attention to other areas of the bath, such as layout size, finishes, and smart technology. The National Kitchen and Bath Association’s 2021 Design Trends Survey and Houzz’s 2020 Bathroom Trends Study shed additional light on these areas through the eyes of residential professionals and remodeling homeowners.