As of August, Taylor Morrison, one of the top 10 largest home builders in the U.S., decided to make whole-home air filtration and water filtration, along with other features, standard in all its homes. The company launched its TM LiveWell initiative partly in response to pandemic news coverage about air circulation, but also in response to strong interest in home health and wellness among home buyers that it surveyed. Of the 2,000 respondents, the younger generation—40% of millennials and 35% of Gen X buyers—was particularly interested in these aspects of a new home.
“There’s a healthy movement that’s been coming for quite some time. COVID has just accelerated that,” says Stephanie McCarty, chief marketing and communications officer at Taylor Morrison. “We think this is here to stay—this isn’t a temporary solution for ‘COVID days,’ if you will. We really think that consumers will have an eye for healthier homes. It will be a permanent, structural shift.”
During the pandemic, people have spent an unprecedented amount of time in their homes. Untethered from a physical office, as many as 23 million people, or one-tenth of working-age adults in the U.S., are planning to move, according to an Upwork survey, which opens up new housing markets. A Zillow survey of Americans working from home found that approximately 30% were interested in moving in order to have a dedicated home office. Change is in the air, and home requirements are shifting.
For builders who have been offering high-performance homes, emphasizing health and wellness has been a more effective way to convey the value of their product. “About three years ago, we shifted the conversation we were having with clients away from energy efficiency,” says Brandon Bryant, founder of Red Tree Builders in Asheville, North Carolina, who has about a dozen starts a year, all built to the Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home standard. “When you focus on health and wellness, the energy efficiency naturally happens. When I talk about how we’re meeting strict guidelines for indoor air quality and how 90% of your time is spent indoors, I get a way better reaction.”