I’ve been thinking about writing on this topic for the past couple of weeks as I look ahead to 2013 business. As a real estate agent, I see some real trends emerging with clients. All real estate is local, and here are the five consistant features I hear buyers talk about on a regular basis:
1. Buyers want a home within walking distance of amenities. Younger couples and empty nesters are constantly telling me they want to be able to walk and/or bike to shops, restaurants, a grocery store and park area. Gas prices are rising; walking is a pleasurable exercise and having nearby, locally owned stores give a neighborhood a cozy, friendly vibe. Check the pricing: homes within an easy walking distance of services generally have a higher list price.
2. Empty nest buyers want two master suites on the main level. Retiring baby boomers are generally very active–they want to downsize from the current 3500 SF house to something smaller and more manageable. At the same time, these boomers have aging parents who do not want to live in typical senior independent or assisted living housing. By having two master suites on the main level, boomers can age in place and have their older parents (often in their 80s or 90s) also living in the home if necessary.
3. Buyers want nicely updated, well maintained homes. Today’s first time buyers are often spending thousands of dollars in their down payment just to get into a house; they don’t have an extra $10-20K to update the home’s interior or replace a roof, remodel a kitchen, etc. The same applies to downsizing boomers: they want to sell their current larger home and pay cash for the new, smaller home, with perhaps some leftover equity going towards decor or simple updates. A well-priced, nicely furnished and decorated home with newer mechanicals will always sell faster than one that needs a new roof, HVAC, bath remodel, etc.
4. Everyone wants an open floor plan in an older neighborhood. Older neighborhoods remain desirable because the homes tend to be well built with charming architectural details and close, easy access to services and amenities. However, most older homes are not ‘opened up’, with a large kitchen attached to a family room (like all suburban homes are). Those older homes that have been modified with a more spacious feel for an easy entertaining flow and oversized modern kitchen sell fast. Everybody congregates in the kitchen anyway, right?
5. Buyers want a backyard with room for a garden. The popular trend of growing your own vegetables, fruits and herbs won’t go away anytime soon. Having a bit of space in the yard for a few vegetable plants, berry bushes and an herb garden is a practical and enjoyable benefit to homeowners. You save on groceries and have a pretty , topical feature to compliment the home!
These are a few of the items on the ‘wish list’ of buyers I’ve been working with. If you are a buyer, do any of these features appeal to you? Your comments are welcome!