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If the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, can he be persuaded to buy a house with a option-filled kitchen? Not necessarily, according to an online survey of more than 1,500 consumers taken in the first two months of January.

Kitchens matter, of course, probably more to women than men. But bedrooms matter most, the survey by HomeBuilder.com found. And, according to Jay Minkoff, vice president of national accounts for the site, "more is better." More than three out of every four persons who filled out the 21-question survey said they are considering buying a house with an extra bedroom. And a majority said the need for more bedrooms would be a primary factor in their decision to move to a new place.

But they won't necessarily use the spare room for sleeping. While 28 percent would use it as a guest room, 24 percent would use it as a den, library or study, and 21 percent would use it for an office. A smaller percentage would use the extra space as a kids playroom, exercise room or hobby room.

Because the study was taken over the Internet, it is not truly representative of all buyer groups, Minkoff warned. Online shoppers tend to be better educated and slightly younger than most buyers, he explained. Consequently, they include a higher percentage of renters.

Nevertheless, one in four said they were 100 percent certain they'd buy in the next six months. Moreover, 19 percent said they were 75 percent sure, and 21 percent said there's at least a 50-50 chance they'd take the plunge.

More than half said they preferred a bedroom arrangement in which the master was separated from the rest of the home's sleeping quarters. But 27 percent said it didn't matter to them one way or another whether or not the master was near the secondary bedrooms.

Similarly, 37 percent favored a more traditional living/dining room configuration while 27 percent said they didn't care. And while 60 percent wanted larger homes with fewer options, 40 percent liked the idea of smaller house with more options.

The bottom line: Builders need more floor plans, not fewer, said Minkoff. Otherwise, they'll miss a big segment of their potential market.

And one more thing: About one in four respondents said builders also need to do a better job of designing those extra bedrooms. An equal percentage also said they like to see better designed kitchens, too.

But what about kitchens? They continue to be a focal point, but according to the latest poll by the National Association of Home Builders, buyers are placing a higher priority on exterior features. "Everyone wants a porch, deck, patio or fence," says NAHB economist Gopal Ahluwalia.

Higher ceilings also rated high among the 1,200 households who either bought a new house in the last 24 or months or plan to do so in the next 24. Two out of three respondents preferred nine-foot or higher ceilings on the first floor and 40 percent favored greater height on the second floor as well, Ahluwalia reports.

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