After analyzing the results of a 2012 survey by the Economics and Housing Policy Group, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) was able to put out a comprehensive report on what home buyers REALLY want. We think this study is a great opportunity for sellers to gain a little perspective into the mind of a potential buyer! Given that 45% of potential home buyers want to buy an existing house instead of building their own, this report can give you some guidance if you are thinking of improving or remodeling your house to increase the value before a sale. Don’t spend money on renovations that don’t actually matter to a potential buyer – follow these guidelines and you’ll have buyers racing to be the first to make an offer!
- -Buyers are generally looking to upgrade their square footage. They want a median of 2,226 sq. ft. (17% more than the median home now).
- -47% of buyers want 3 bedrooms, while 32% want 4 bedrooms. The majority of all buyers want at least 2 bathrooms.
- -More than half of buyers prefer a single-story home to a two-story home, and 66% of buyers want either a partial or full basement.
- -53% of buyers want a 2-car garage (and only 20% needs a garage to fit 3+ cars).
- -Surprisingly, while the size of the house is important, 25% of buyers say the size of the lot is not important.
- -Energy efficiency and storage/organization are the primary draw when it comes to appliances and other home components. Laundry rooms and ceiling fans topped the list of “must-haves” for most buyers! 57% of all buyers said they would not buy a home that didn’t have a laundry room, and an additional 36% noted it as “desirable.”
- -In the kitchen, a walk-in pantry and a double sink were considered essential by 84% of all buyers. Buyers also preferred to have table space for eating in the kitchen as well.
- -While not necessarily considered essential by all buyers, Energy-Star rated appliances and windows were some of the “most desirable” additions to homes.
- -Buyers were mostly focused on quality and brand names when it came to appliances.
- -Builders and sellers, beware! There are also a number of home components that buyers felt should NOT be included in a home.
- -Elevators made the number one spot on the “Do Not Want” list. Unless necessary for medical/accessibility reasons, elevators seem to be an unwanted luxury that could also be dangerous to children.
- -A few items on the “Unwanted” list could be cheap and easy fixes before attempting to sell your house. Adding a bathtub to the master bathroom, replacing laminate or ceramic tile countertops, and getting rid of glass-front cabinets are all elements that easily make your home more appealing to potential buyers.
- -And don’t bother with those fancy extras: outdoor kitchens, game rooms, wet bars, and laundry chutes all made the “Do Not Want” list as well!
- -Lights: More than half of all buyers prefer recessed lighting inside the house, and 90% of buyers said that exterior lighting was a must!
- -Outdoor Living: 83% of buyers said they wanted a patio, and 80% wanted a front porch.
- -Accessibility: more than three-quarters of buyers said they wanted doorways that are at least 3 feet wide, and hallways that are at least 4 feet wide. A full bath on the ground floor was considered essential by 45% of buyers.
- -Technology: worth the investment. The survey showed that while many buyers did not have advanced technology in their current homes, it is something that they might want in a future residence. The most popular tech gadgets for a new home would include a wireless security system, programmable thermostats, lighting control system, and wireless home audio systems.
- -Community matters: most buyers rejected the idea of living in a high-density area, preferring the suburbs to the cities. However, certain community features would influence half of the buyers in their purchasing decision, including access to walking/running paths, a park area, and an outdoor swimming pool.
- -Knowing that most buyers (given free reign to choose from an unlimited number of options for features in a new home) would choose ALL options, the survey also asked them to make some harder choices in an effort to narrow down the best home features.
- -When asked to choose between seven features to keep a house more affordable, almost half of the buyers said they would prefer a home that was partially unfinished. Tied for second place was selecting a home that was further away from shopping/entertainment, or choosing a smaller house over a bigger one.
- -90% of buyers said they would choose an energy-efficient house with lower utility bills over a house that was 2-3% cheaper to buy but was not energy-efficient.
- -68% of buyers said they would sacrifice space in the master bathroom in order to have a larger master bedroom.
- -More than half of the buyers said they would choose a smaller home with more amenities over a larger one with no amenities.
- -Although most home buyers didn’t care enough about the environmental impact of the house to pay more for a “greener” home, they were willing to pay an average of $7,095 more on a house if it would save them $1,000 a year in utilities.
So if you’re thinking about selling your home, a little bit of insight into what actually drives buyers to choose one home over another could give you a leg up when you’re ready to put your house on the market! You can read the complete NAHB analysis here. Even though the study was published a few years ago, it was focused on equal groups of recent home buyers and potential buyers who were thinking of buying within 3 years, so the study provides a good look at the exact buyers who may be thinking of purchasing your home today!