The factors driving demand preferences for detached housing are constantly changing and difficult to measure, and often deemed to be a complex bundle of attributes. If consideration is given to the characteristics that first home owners are looking for, providers of new housing would be better equipped to meet this demand and maximise construction efficiency. Rather than analysing sales transactions after they have been completed, this research considers aspects of new houses that first home owners are actively searching for, prior to making their purchase. The research in this paper is based on interviews with first home purchasers at a series of locations across Melbourne, Australia, who were actively seeking to purchase a house. The emphasis was placed on identifying and analysing their decision criteria, which provided an invaluable insight into their concept of a suitable residence. The data was analysed using factor analysis, which identified the core decision criteria in a new house that were most sought after.