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In fact, older buyers may give up on finding an existing home that fits all their wants and go the route of building new instead. They are more likely to have the financial wherewithal to do it, too — especially now, as housing markets have improved and fewer owners are underwater on their mortgages, meaning they owe more than the home is currently worth.

Sure enough, home builders who cater to buyers ages 55 and older have grown more optimistic in the past months. The most recent reading of the National Association of Home Builders’ 55-Plus Housing Market Index was 53 in the second quarter, up 24 points from the same period last year. A reading above 50 means that more builders view conditions as good.

In new homes, empty nesters typically value entertaining spaces — their kitchens, eating spaces and gathering spaces — both inside and out, said Scott Thomas, director of architecture for PulteGroup. Many work from home, so they value designated office space that doesn’t make them give up a bedroom. Ample storage is another popular desire.

Location also is important, and many empty nesters prefer to be within walking distance of amenities including coffee shops and theaters, Piper said. “A lot of times, when you have raised your family not close to commerce and the amenities of what a town or city might offer, you realize how nice it is to be able to ride your bike or walk and meet friends,” she said.

If you’re a picky home buyer, consider the following tips:

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