What are the features homeowners want the most?
| March 06, 2020
Americans are a diverse group, and as a general rule, that’s a good thing. But a level of uniformity, especially as it relates to homes and neighborhoods, can also be good. For example, despite the snickers and snide remarks surrounding “cookie-cutter homes,” these types of properties sell very well. And millions of people choose to live in a community that has a homeowners’ association to ensure that no one paints their house purple.
When buyers are looking for homes, there’s a level of consistency in what they want. And that’s good news for sellers, since they won’t have to guess and make expensive mistakes while trying to figure out what makes their home more — or less — attractive when it’s on the market.
A survey by Porch and Homes.com has identified the top features that people want when they’re looking for a home — and how much they’re willing to bust the budget to pay for it.
The top seven prioritized features are:
- Back porch or deck
- Newly renovated kitchen
- Hardwood flooring
- Finished garage
- Open floor plan
- Finished basement
- Natural sunlight in at least one room
Let’s delve into the top three features to see why they’re so popular among homebuyers.
A back porch or deck
A back porch or deck was rated the most important feature by 33.9% of house hunters — and this is one feature that’s popular across generations. Among millennials, Generation X and baby boomers, it takes the top spot. On average, house hunters are willing to go over budget by $3,377 for a home that has this feature.
So, why is a back porch or deck so popular? “It’s a common sentiment that making memories with loved ones is what makes a house a home,” says Gillian Luce, director of consumer marketing at Homes.com. “As the world has gotten more digitally connected, studies show we’ve gotten more disconnected in terms of personal relationships.”
And she says that having backyard entertainment spaces like porches and decks can foster those personal connections in a way that can’t be achieved when viewing someone through a screen. That’s why even though Generation Z homebuyers are the youngest and most connected homebuyers, they’re also seeking this type of personal link. “In a separate survey on what Generation Z homebuyers want, their most desired home feature was a backyard entertainment space,” Luce explains. “This told us that demand for these spaces won’t be waning anytime soon because it’s well understood they contribute to a higher quality of life.”
A newly renovated kitchen
A newly renovated kitchen was the second most important feature, garnering 30.8% of the vote, and this was the feature homebuyers were willing to bust their budget the most to get. On average, survey respondents said they would spend $4,570 over budget for a newly renovated kitchen.
None of this surprises Luce. “The kitchen is often hailed as the focal point of the home, and for good reason; you quite literally nourish your life and your family with it,” she says.
“A 2019 study by the National Association of Realtors found that kitchen renovations were rated 10 points out of 10 on a ‘joy scale,’ regardless of whether the renovation was DIY or through hired professionals.” In fact, Luce sees a positive correlation between quality of life and the condition of your kitchen.
In addition, a kitchen renovation is the project that’s most likely to increase your home’s resale value — and most likely to appeal to new buyers. “While ROI varies with the type of renovation, most buyers put a premium on this space when searching for a home, so a well-executed kitchen renovation could contribute to a faster, smoother selling process,” she explains.
Coming in third place as the most important feature during a house hunt: 30.4% of homebuyers want beautiful hardwood floors. On average, they’re willing to go over budget by $2,532 to purchase a home that has them.
“Some trends are quick to come and go, but hardwood flooring has not been one of them,” Luce says. Besides the sheer beauty of hardwood, the floors are also easy to clean. And they come in an array of species, including Cherry, Oak, Walnut, Hickory, Maple, Bamboo and Brazilian Teak. So, regardless of the home’s style, hardwood floors will fit right in.
“Unlike carpet, they don’t need to be replaced every 10 or so years if they’re properly maintained, making them especially ideal for families with pets or young children,” Luce says. And from a resale perspective, she says that installing or refinishing hardwood floors is one of the very few projects in which you can recoup 100% of renovation costs.
However, before you start on any type of renovation project, she recommends getting input from a real estate agent. “You want to make sure that you’re not doing something that could detract from the home, and they can help you decide which projects are a sound investment.”
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