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Home buyer preferences show affinity for newer homes

Home buyer preferences vary according to geography and demographic, but buyers still consistently want standard amenities and would be willing to pay more for amenities they didn’t end up buying (like a laundry room).

home preferences

home preferences

NAR Profile of home buyers’ preferences

According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) 2013 Profile of Buyers’ Home Feature Preferences, geography and demographics had the strongest impact on home buyer preferences between 2010 and 2012. During that period, the average home purchased was 1,860 square feet and built in 1996 and typically featured three bedrooms and two bathrooms, and just over half of the homes purchased were on a single level.

“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,” said NAR President Gary Thomas. “Buyers need to have a clear idea of what features are important to them and know where they are willing to compromise; in this respect, Realtors® can bring buyers home. Realtors visit hundreds of homes with buyers each year, and have a unique understanding of what buyers value in their local markets.”

What rooms were most important

When it came to rooms that buyers want in a home, 55 percent of buyers thought it was very important to have a living room, although NAR reports that buyers in the Northeast placed more importance on a home with a dining room. Buyers aged 55+ prioritized a bedroom on the main level of the house while home buyers aged 35 to 54 placed more importance on a laundry room, while those with children placed more importance on a family room.

Of the 63 percent of buyers who did not purchase a home with a laundry room, they tell NAR they’d be willing to pay an average of $1,590 more for a home with this room, while the 44 percent of buyers who did not purchase a home with a den/study/home office/library would be willing to pay $1,920 more for a home with this room.

Home buyers willing to pay more for favored features

NAR asked respondents to rank 33 home features, and central air conditioning was the most important to the most buyers, followed by a walk-in closet in the master bedroom, being cable/Internet ready, and an en-suite master bathroom. As to what they actually purchased, of those who considered central A/C and cable/Internet readiness very or somewhat important, 94 percent purchased a home with these features.

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Of those who did not purchase a home with central A/C, they would be willing to pay $2,520 more for a home with it, and 69 percent of buyers who didn’t get new kitchen appliances would be willing to pay $1,840 more for a home with them.

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.

Garages, trees, wood floors, new kitchens

NAR reports that Southern buyers prioritized central air conditioning, and likely because of the available inventory, tended to buy newer homes (less than five years old) and larger homes, averaging at 2,000 square feet with more emphasis on wooded lots with trees than other regions. Northeastern residents purchased larger homes as well, averaging 1,850 square feet, and that region values hardwood floors more than any other region.

Even though 78 percent of buyers purchased a home with a agarage, this feature was more popular with new-home buyers, Midwesterners, and suburbanites. Single men wanted finished basements, a feature most popular in the Midwest and Northeast. Both single men and married couples placed higher importance on new kitchen appliances.

Where the big bucks come in

Fully 32 percent of home buyers said they would be willing to pay a median of $5,420 more for a home on the waterfront, while 40 percent would be willilng to pay $5,020 more for a home under five years old.

One in three would be willing to pay a median of $3,200 more for a home with a basement, while one in five would be willing to pay $2,920 more for a home with an in-law suite.

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Can’t get no satisfaction

NAR Vice President of Research Paul Bishop. “Most satisfied homeowners still said they would like more or larger closets and storage space. In addition, nearly half of recent buyers would prefer a larger kitchen, and two out of five would prefer a larger home overall.”

Homeowners felt strongly enough about changing their home that within three months of a home purchase, 53 percent of buyers undertook a home improvement project, spending an average of $4,550. Kitchen remodeling was the most common, followed by the kitchen, then bathrooms. The most common improvements were lighting and appliance replacement.

Tara Steele is the News Director at The American Genius, covering entrepreneur, real estate, technology news and everything in between. If you'd like to reach Tara with a question, comment, press release or hot news tip, simply click the link below.

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