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What Do Today’s Home Buyers Want Most in A Home?
Home buyers thoughts about what they want in a house have changed over the years in several areas. During the pandemic, homeowners demanded a lot from their homes. The home buyers wish list of “must-haves” for home buyers has grown along with the “wouldn’t it be nice” list.
While home buyers are looking for “move-in ready” homes overall, there are several features that home buyers think are important to have in a home these days. My home buyers wish list for 2023 – Top 10 includes some old and some new items:
Home Buyers Wish List 2023
1. At the top of the wish list is a dedicated home office. After the pandemic, working at home has become a priority for many people, and studies are showing that a larger percentage of the work force is not going back. Companies found that in many cases, productivity is up when people work at home. (Businesses are also finding that the need for less office space is saving money on their bottom line!)
Local builders are seeing the increase in demand for floor plans that have a home office included.
If your home doesn’t have a dedicated office space, it really adds to the appeal just to carve out office space in a kitchen or family room. Without sacrificing storage, you may be able to convert a closet into an office. Extra space in a basement or attic room is also a great option for a home office.
One thing to be careful about is NOT to sacrifice bedrooms for a home office if it means you have fewer bedrooms than comparable homes in the same price range and area.
Home Energy Efficiency
2. Energy efficiency is high on a home buyers’ wish list in 2023. The rising cost of energy has many homeowners looking for more efficiency in their homes. Buyers are more aware of and interested in green innovations, both for the environment and for cost saving. The top of the list of green features are energy-efficient appliances and high-efficiency insulation and windows.
There are many ways to increase the energy efficiency of your home:
- programmable thermostat
- energy saving LED lighting fixtures
- smart outlets can reduce waste, by allowing a plugged-in device to use electricity only when it needs it
- Wi-Fi-enabled ceiling fans can reduce your heating and cooling costs. They link up to smart thermostats and automatically adjust their speed and direction based on the ambient temperature of the room.
- Wi-fi enabled light fixtures and are a great way to save energy when you aren’t even home.
On the topic of energy efficiency, home builders are noting the trend for smaller square footage in new homes they are building. Home buyers want “better, not bigger” elements. Our homes need to work harder and need to feel as big as they used to be. Efficiency is key.
Must Have: Storage
3. People have stuff. Stuff needs storage space. Most buyers tour a home looking at the overall storage possibilities.
If you don’t have a huge amount of storage in your home, make sure you make the most of what you have. Pay attention to your storage spaces and rooms in your staging. Cull the closets to show as much room available as possible.
If your bedrooms are smallish, make sure you maximize the space. De-clutter and minimize furniture. Try to use furniture that is scaled correctly for the space. Oversized seating is often comfy, but it is not the best for accentuating spaciousness of a room.
This is just one reason why staging is important. It shows all the spaces in your home in the best possible light. Look at it this way, you’re going to be moving soon anyway…why not pack up a good amount of your stuff now?
Along with storage, an organized garage is a moving up on the home buyers top 10 wish list. Today’s families appreciate a space large enough to fit 2 vehicles and offer storage space for their many activities. Having an organized storage system in the garage is a big plus for a home seller, especially if your garage is not large.
You can find garage organization systems in all the big home improvement stores, as well as online. They are not that expensive, as most garages are fairly uniform in size and construction. The added benefit of organizing is the opportunity to declutter and clean.
Here are some great ideas for organizing and primping up the garage from Realtor.com.
4. The need for a healthy home is one of the trends that has increased since the pandemic. Home buyers are increasing their knowledge of indoor air quality.
With more people working from home, people are cooking more, cleaning more, exercising more, and home schooling more. “That’s a lot of moisture, carbon dioxide, off gassing, cleaning fumes, and particles floating around in the air,” according to a recent study by Broan-NuTone. “Making healthy home options a standard and increasing healthy home technology will make homes very attractive to buyers of all demographics.”
Here are some suggestions for easy DIY upgrades to your home air quality:
- Wipe down surfaces more frequently
- Wipe down the items you bring in to your home
- Vacuum more frequently, clean carpets and floors more frequently
- If you have pets, keep them groomed regularly. Pet dander can affect indoor air quality.
- Use the ventilation fan when you cook. Clean the filter often. Replace if it is not functioning as well as it used to.
- Open the windows to allow air to recycle. Indoor air is up to 80% more polluted than the outside air.
- Refresh your bathroom air with a new ventilation fan. Newer fans are more efficient.
- Newer bathroom fans also have an LED light technology that kills viruses and help prevent the growth of germs and fungi.
- Learn about biophilic design—incorporating natural materials to promote the health and well-being. Plants help in air purification…and they certainly are pretty!
5. Number of bedrooms.
Today’s homeowners have higher expectations than previous generations did. Today’s families typically require that every child have their own bedroom, and many times, their own bathroom. If you have rooms that you have repurposed for other uses, make sure you convert them back to bedrooms before you put your home on the market.
According to the latest housing trends study from the 2023 International Builders’ Show, the demand for four-bedroom homes has increased, while the overall size of new homes has decreased in 2022. Flex spaces are coming into trend, allowing home owners to use them for what they need.
If you have a bonus room, then definitely show it off! Bonus spaces are great and add extra value, as long as they don’t come at the cost of a bedroom.
A few years ago we toured a large (4000+ square foot home) on 2 acres in an estate neighborhood. The home had only 3 bedrooms in a neighborhood where the comparable homes have 4 or 5 bedrooms. The original homeowners designed and built the home according to their needs and wants, not thinking of the resale. At the time, the home had been on the market for over 2 years. The only remedy is price in that instance.
When it is time to sell a home, sellers need to appeal to the largest pool of buyers in the market. If they have too many customizations, that can narrow the appeal of your home to buyers.
Kitchens and Baths Sell Homes
6. The kitchen has changed tremendously over the last few decades. While homes used to be more formal, with the kitchen separated from the other living spaces, in today’s homes the kitchen is the center of living.
As open floor plans have become common in all types of home styles, the kitchen is usually connected to most of the living spaces. It is often where family and friends gather for eating and socializing.
The best investment a home seller can make is to update the kitchen. When a home buyer is looking at a home, the cost of updating a kitchen is an expense they’d rather not deal with, and often can’t afford. If they see a kitchen with too much work involved to update it, unless there is some other compelling reason why they are in love with the home, they’ll usually move on. Or, they will deduct the amount they are willing to offer.
How much is “too much work”? That’s a good question, and it can only be answered by taking stock of the comparable kitchens in your area and price range. Consulting a local real estate professional is a good first step, as they are in the market every day, seeing what homes in your market look like. Do some research on kitchen trends in your market.
We’ve seen over the years that all investments in a home are not equal. Bill Gassett has some great advice for home sellers on home repairs that give a high return on investment.
When considering kitchen renovations, homeowners need to be strategic. The kitchen remodel is the one place where you can get your money back when you sell…if you do so wisely. The kitchen can be the most expensive room to renovate. With some smart choices, like brightening up dark colors, replacing basic hardware, having energy efficient stainless-steel appliances, and installing stone counters, you can get a good return.
7. The next item on a home buyers wish list is the bathroom. This is usually the second most expensive room in the house to update, and the same reasoning applies in the mind of the buyer when it comes to doing updates. After the pandemic, many people are rethinking their private spaces, looking for more Zen at home.
Although you can’t hide major imperfections in a bathroom, minor repairs and some strategic staging can do wonders in this area. There are some clever inexpensive ways you can update a bathroom, like updating the lighting or fixtures, painting in a serene color, adding plush towels and a stylish decorator soap dispenser.
It is always wise for homeowners to make updates and maintain and repair their home throughout the time they own it. Waiting to make updates until you decide to sell the home is a drain on your wallet. Similarly, deferred maintenance often leads to chronic problems that are more expensive to fix in the end.
Highlight Outdoor Living Spaces
8. Outdoor Living Spaces have become an important part today’s home life. The pandemic spurred a lot of home improvement, including the outdoor spaces. Homeowners will do well to recognize that outdoor living is high on a home buyer’s wish list.
Today’s homeowners want to have all the functionality at home that they get outside of the home. Outdoor rooms need to include living spaces, cooking spaces, play spaces, outdoor theaters. There are many ways to add to the livability of the back yard. No matter the size of the home or yard, outdoor living spaces add value.
Outdoor living rooms can be found in a deck or patio, or even in a side-yard. Creativity and some good old-fashioned labor can produce attractive outdoor spaces that add to the livability of any home. Add some inviting staging touches and you can add a lot of charm and appeal.
Well designed landscaping can do a lot to improve the outside livability of your home, as well as the visual appeal. If you add landscaping, including hardscaping, make sure it is in keeping with your home’s style and size. We’ve seen many homeowners overdo it and end up not getting a good return on their investment.
A Clean and Bright Home
9. A Clean House is a well-cared for house. You can overcome many flaws in your home by keeping it clean, uncluttered, bright and comfortable. Cleaning a home is the best return on investment because elbow grease is generally free!
Home buyers often cannot see clearly when they are making their way through dirty, cluttered spaces. They cannot “see” their belongings in spaces that are dirty, dingy and not well-lit.
Get rid of heavy drapes in favor of light window treatments. Let the natural light in as much as you can. Of course, that means you’ll have to have a clean home. Don’t forget the smells…many homebuyers are turned off to an off-putting smell.
Even if you don’t need to replace them, make sure you use the brightest bulbs possible. Lighting makes a huge difference and is one of those details that gives you the most bang for your buck.
A clean home is a healthy home. Michelle Gibson gives nine steps to clean your home like a professional. Whether you are getting ready to sell or not, this deep cleaning checklist is a bit help to having a healthy home.
Where to Spend Your Home Improvement Budget
If you decide your home needs some updating to add a few more features that are on today’s home buyers wish lists, you’ll want to make sure you spend your budget on things that will give you the most return for your investment.
You’ll want to invest in your kitchen and bathrooms, of course. But knowing what and how much is key. According to Angi (formerly Angie’s list) the average cost of home improvement and home repairs rose by 25% year over year in 2021.
Because of supply chain woes, inflation, and the costs of shipping going up, the cost of home renovation has increased. But, fortunately for homeowners, the values of their homes have also increased over the last few years.
Before considering improvements, its best to give some thought to home maintenance. Homeowners need to be maintaining and updating their home regularly to retain their home value. Paul Sian has a helpful article outlining six important home items to maintain during the time you own a home. Failure to maintain your home can lead to costly repairs in the future.
Updated Fixtures Make a Big Impact
9. Upgraded Lighting Fixtures and Ceiling Fans. Sometimes the most obvious things can get overlooked. Lighting and ceiling fans are so easy to replace with modern, design-friendly fixtures, for a very reasonable cost.
Trends change. Today’s brass has a brushed gold finish. Stainless steel is here to stay, but today’s stainless steel has more matte finish than the shine of the last decade.
The last thing you want is outdated 90’s brass fixtures and trims. Outdated fixtures suggest to buyers that the rest of your home is outdated and not functioning as well as it should. These kinds of improvements are not expensive, and can be easily changed out with a trip to the hardware store.
As a homeowner your attention to maintenance and updates is important throughout the time you own a home. Not only for resale, but for your own enjoyment. If you don’t have the biggest, best, most modern home in the neighborhood…not to worry. There are many ways to add thoughtful updates to your home that will increase it’s appeal to today’s home buyers.
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Top ten items on a home buyer’s wish list was written by Karen Highland, lover of all things HOME.