Top Home Features Buyers Look For
The House Looks Dated
These are the four words that every real estate agent and seller dreads hearing when receiving feedback after a buyer tours a home. Buyers today find it difficult to look past 1970's wallpaper, shag carpet, and plastic handled faucets. A seller can often be faced with making upgrades to their home just to catch the interest of perspective buyers. So the question is "What are the upgrades and repairs that will have the highest return on investment?" A seller who knows the answers to this question will be able to bring in more interested buyers, and often reduce the time it takes to receive a good offer on their listing. It is important to remember that every buyer is unique, and they will all have a different checklist of wants and needs when looking at homes. With that in mind, we are still able to comprise a list of features that a majority of buyers look for.
If you have watched any of the real estate reality shows where the hosts help a homeowner sell their house, then you know how much emphasis is being put on updating kitchens and baths. Lets talk about the kitchens first. It is not unusual for a real estate agent to hear from new buyers that they only want to see homes that have an updated kitchen. If you read through listings, it is easy to see how agents use public remarks to place an emphasis on kitchen upgrades that have been done. So how can you upgrade the kitchen without spending a fortune? Ask your agent what the current trends are for kitchens, and they can point out potential areas to focus on. Naturally granite/marble counter tops, tile back splash, tile floors, and stainless appliances are what buyers are really looking for, however there are some other areas that can be upgraded for far less money. Consider a fresh coat of paint, new lighting, update the sink and plumbing fixtures, change out the cabinet hardware, and give the cabinets a facelift by re-staining or refinishing them.
And On To The Baths
Bathrooms are second only to the kitchen in desired upgrades by buyers, and often is even more desirable. Adding in something as extravagant as a large tiled shower will definitely catch a buyers attention, but can also cost several thousand to do well. As with the kitchen, granite/marble counter tops and updated fixtures along with tile floors are sought after by home buyers. So what do you do if you do not have the finances to fund these upgrades? I am glad you asked. Fresh paint is almost always a great return on investment, and for bathrooms, consider a bright color to invite the buyer in. A dirty bathroom with evidence of grime and mildew is a sure fire way to make a buyer walk right out and not look back. Place emphasis on providing the buyer with a clean bathroom to look at...make it shine. Other possible upgrades that can be done on a budget are a new medicine cabinet, updated lighting, new shower surround, and/or shower head, and a new or refinished vanity. Another way to impress a buyer is to clean and organize the linen closets.
High Tech Upgrades
One of the fastest growing buyer demographics is the millennials generation. They outnumber the baby boomers, and over the next few years will become a major force in the real estate market. Millennials are very tech savy, and if you want to impress them you may want to consider some technological upgrades in your home prior to selling. Consider upgrading technologies that can be controlled by a smart phone or tablet, such as programmable thermostats, security systems, even keyless locks. Other possible upgrades may include timer operated irrigation systems, media rooms, and whole home speaker systems.
You can't take five steps without seeing an advertisement extolling the benefits of going green. There are good reasons for this, as buyers for everything from fast food to luxury items like Tesla electric cars are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprints. Adding energy efficient appliances, heating and air conditioning units not only help a buyer meet these goals, but have the added benefit of reducing utility costs, which is a great selling feature for any buyer. Other upgrades that help improve a homes energy efficiency, and to reduce expenses are adding insulation. Increasing the insulation in older homes to match current standards can also help with noise reduction. Look for the "Energy Star" logo when purchasing appliances. Energy Star is an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program that focuses on aiding both businesses and consumers to protect the climate while saving money. Always remember that appearance is as important if not moreso when it comes to appliances. Stainless steel appliances will typically bring a return on investment when selling a home. Windows in older homes can be a very common issue brought up in a home inspection if the windows are in poor condition, or do not operate properly. Replacement windows can be expensive, but home buyers will often pay more for ahome that has had energy efficient windows installed, especially in areas with severe climates (both hot and cold). Another benefit of replacement windows is ease of cleaning, and any upgrade that also provides an ease of maintenance benefit is a plus with buyers.
Open Concept Floor Plans
If you are selling a home built prior to 1990, most likely has a comparmentalized floor plan. Today's buyers often prefer an open floor plan, which provides a feeling of rooms flowing from one to the next. This is especially true for buyers who enjoy entertaining, and wish to offer their family and friends a home atmosphere that does not feel like they are isolated from each other. Open floor plans can also be popular with families who have young children, as it allows parents to more easily keep an eye on their children. Understandably, it can be difficult to remodel an older home to create an open concept, however if you are planning on remodeling in the future it is something to consider.
Curb Appeal and Landscaping
The exterior of the home, and yard may be the last thing on my list, but it is the first thing the buyer will see when pulling up to the home. Not paying attention to curb appeal can be a costly mistake for a home seller. Yard features popular with buyers include a fenced yard, patios, and decks. Other areas to focus on are landscaping, outdoor kitchens/entertaining areas, gardens, pools, and firepits. As discussed in open concept floor plans, today's buyers love entertaining in their homes, and this is especially true for the back yard. Compared to years ago when the front porch was the place to sit and wave at neighbors, today the back yard is a focal gathering point. Essentially, buyers want a home with welcoming curb appeal, and a back yard that is comfortable, private, and suitable for entertaining.