Eye of the Buyer

Purchasing a home is an important life decision, and many factors can influence the home choices buyers make. “Deciding where to live comes with a lot of options, but buyers quickly realize that some features are more important than others when it comes to choosing the right house for them,” says Gary Thomas, broker-owner of Evergreen Realty, in Villa Park, California, and president of the National Association of Realtors.

NAR’s Home Feature Survey examines the features buyers prefer in the homes they purchase. According to the survey, the typical buyer purchased a home with three bedrooms and two full bathrooms, and slightly over half of the homes purchased were on a single level.

But buyers were also strongly influenced by geography and demography, for example:

  • Repeat buyers, buyers of new homes, married couples, and families with children typically purchased larger homes.
  • Single women and first-time buyers tend to purchase smaller and older homes.
  • Garages were more popular among new-home buyers, Midwesterners, and suburbanites.
  • Southerners were more likely to want a home less than five years old and on a wooded lot. They also placed a higher importance on central air conditioning.
  • Northeastern buyers valued hardwood floors more than people in other regions.

What Will They Pay For?

Buyers are willing to pay more for some home features, the study showed. Sixty-nine percent who did not purchase a home with central air-conditioning said they would be willing to pay $2,520 more for a home with this feature.

Sixty-nine percent of buyers who did not purchase a home with new kitchen appliances would be willing to pay $1,840 more for a home with this feature.

A walk-in closet in the master bedroom was the third most common feature on which buyers would spend more. Sixty percent of buyers who did not purchase a home with a walk-in closet would be willing to pay $1,350 more for a home with this feature.

The features on which buyers placed the highest dollar value were waterfront properties and homes that were less than five years old. Thirty-two percent of buyers would be willing to pay a median of $5,420 more for a home on the waterfront, and 40 percent of buyers would be willing to pay a median of $5,020 more for a home that was less than five years old.

The rooms that buyers were willing to pay the most for were a basement and an in-law suite. Thirty-three percent of buyers would be willing to pay a median of $3,200 more for a home with a basement, and 20 percent of buyers would be willing to pay a median of $2,920 more for a home with an in-law suite.

Post-Buy Projects

Even as they’re signing the bottom line, many buyers are already planning additions or to remodel. Within three months of a home purchase, the study shows, 53% of buyers undertake a home improvement project, costing an average of $4,550. Forty-seven percent remodeled the kitchen, 44% bathrooms, 41% added or replaced lighting, and 37% added or replaced appliances.

With all those trends in mind, savvy sellers will target buyer segments to market their home’s best features, and be sure to consider staging the property to show its potential for moving in, expansion or remodel.

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