Sunday, July 22, 2007

What are Buyers Looking For?

The NAR is getting ready to release their 2007 Profile of Buyer's Home Feature Preferences in about a month. For the REALTORS that don't subscribe to the NAR weekly newsletter, or those that are looking, here is the blurb:

Central air conditioning, walk-in closets, hardwood floors, high-end kitchen appliances, oversized garages and patios were among the features buyers said they would pay more for in a home, according to NAR's soon-to-be-released 2007 Profile of Buyer's Home Feature Preferences. Due out in early August, the report looks what buyers want, what they pay more for and what they end up with when the transaction is all said and done.

I just thought I would take a moment and toss out my thoughts on these things. That should be fun. Everyone wants MY opinion, right?

Central Air - OK, here in Georgia, I think it is pretty rare to find a house without central air. I know there are some out there, but they aren't very plentiful.

Walk-in Closets - I think we should be talking about walk-in closets in every bedroom. Most houses built in the last few years have at least a walk-in for the master bedroom. I'm starting to see more homes, even mid-priced with walk in closets for several bedrooms.

Hardwood Floors - Always a favorite of mine. There are a lot of older homes with great hardwoods, some even under carpet. Newer homes are also featuring more and more hardwood floors. As the homes move toward the higher end, I'm seeing more and more area covered with hardwood. Luckily, this is also something that a seller can do to their house to help it sell more easily in the current market.

High-end Kitchen Appliances - Another favorite of mine. I am seeing a movement away from stainless steel, and towards slightly softer finishes like pewter and graphite and stone gray. I am also starting to see a lot more built-in refrigerators at the high end of the market. Also at the high end are under counter wine cabinets, dual dishwashers, and warming drawers. Stainless steel, while still in the higher end homes, they are also showing up in more entry level homes. This is another thing that sellers can do if they are going to renovate their kitchen or if appliances need to be replaced.

Oversized Garages - My specialty. But seriously, most buyers are couples and have at least two cars, they also have lawn equipment and hobby stuff like bikes and so forth that need to be stored somewhere. The traditional two car garage is getting pretty cramped. Add in the number of minivans and SUVs out there, and the fact that most people would prefer to park inside, and it isn't hard to see why bigger garages are moving into the mainstream. For auto enthusiasts, especially at the high end of the market, I'm seeing more 5+ car garages than ever.

Patio Space - This is another thing that I really like to see. Not only does the outside space need to be there, but it needs to be livable. Regardless of the price point, I am seeing the outdoor areas treated more like a living space. Most people like to grill out at least a couple times per year. If they have kids, they want to be able to enjoy family time outside, and many people like to entertain. Since the outdoor space is usually considerably larger than most of the spaces indoors, it only makes sense to have an entertainment and family space outside. At the entry level, a simple table and chairs on a patio may be enough to help a buyer "see themselves" outside. At the higher end, I'm seeing more outdoor kitchens and more structured designs including spas, pools, waterfalls and generous covered space.

What do you think? If you are a buyer, what are you looking to find? If you are an agent, what are you seeing? If you are a seller, do you have any questions?

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