Fewer new homes are being built with a fireplace, a sign the cold-weather amenity is falling out of favor with home buyers. A record low percentage of newly constructed single-family homes—41%—last year included a fireplace, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data from the National Association of Home Builders. The share of single-family homes with fireplaces has been declining since 2015, the NAHB reports.
“An obvious explanation for the declining trend is that builders are foregoing fireplaces in some of their homes so they can bring them in at prices their customers can afford,” the NAHB reports on its Eye on Housing blog. “Keeping new homes affordable has become a considerable challenge lately.”
Fireplaces are usually considered a desirable amenity but not a must-have, the NAHB notes. Fifty-five percent of buyers rate gas-burning fireplaces as desirable, while 48% say the same of wood-burning fireplaces as desirable, according to the survey. That places such features in the middle of the list of decorative features most sought-after in terms of desirability, according to the NAHB’s “What Home Buyers Really Want” survey. However, only 16% of buyers say either type of fireplace is essential in a home purchase.
Fireplaces are the most uncommon home feature in the lower price points of the market. For example, just 7% of new single-family homes started in 2018 that were priced under $150,000 had fireplaces. On the other hand, more than 60% of homes priced at $500,000 or above had a fireplace.