experiment Consumers

Home Is Where the Chickens Are Raised


As a remote company, we're a little freaked out that being spread across the world increases the chance one of us will be hit by debris from a clandestine spy balloon shot down by the US military. So, we're house hunting! It’s essential the house we choose has good resale value—we’re nothing if not thrifty. And while we can’t time the market, we can at least poll those in it. To assess the most desired aspects of a house, we whipped out the handy-dandy conjoint experiment from our garage workbench. Fingers crossed that Americans prioritize hot hubs!


When it comes to choosing a house, Americans’ share of preference is mostly determined by its price (30%), followed by yard size (20%), number of bedrooms (15%), the year the house was built (13%), square footage (13%), and number of bathrooms (10%).


Data plot showing conjoint experiment results on what drives home preferences for Americans (price is the highest driver)


So, what is the ideal price of a house? Cheap! Specifically, 47% of Americans prefer a house that is way under their budget. Although it may seem obvious that people want the cheapest house on the market, economic and psychological research show that price is highly correlated with value. Thus, a house way under someone’s budget could signal that something is wrong with it. At least in the current market, this does not seem to be the case—Americans want to be able to buy a house and still have money left over to furnish it. A bit greedy, if you ask us.


The second most important aspect of a house is the yard size. And with the price of eggs soaring, real estate agents should consider renaming lot size on the listing brochure to feed-lot size as Americans will likely be seeding their investments in the future more literally. The largest yard size of five acres was preferred by 39% of Americans. While people typically spend their savings on a house, investing in a home with that much land sounds like the start of a nice nest egg. In this economy, the chicken surely comes before the egg.


While home buyers want to maximize their lot size, this is not the case with the number of bedrooms. Three- (29%) and four- (23%) bedroom houses are preferred by most Americans. We aren’t a large company, but if Gradient were to follow these results for our house search, most of us would still have to sleep outside with the chickens—warm beds are for those who generate higher profit margins than the chickens (no one has slept in weeks).