A recent survey of recent home buyers conducted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) pointed out a bunch of home features that rank high with homeowners.
The 2007 Profile of Buyers' Home Feature Preferences found that buyers
preference for oversized garages (two car or more) was increasing
more than their preference for any of the other 75 home features
and room types on the survey. Among those individuals who purchased homes in
2006, 57 percent considered a big garage to be very important up from 41 percent
when the last survey was conducted in 2004, and in spite of the fact that gas
prices were spiraling through most of the year. Of those people who did not
purchase a home with an oversized garage 56 percent said they would have paid
a premium for this feature compared to only 6 percent who were willing to do
so two years earlier. 61 percent of people living in the Midwest put oversized
garages high on their list of preferences as did 66 percent of Westerners.
The largest number of respondents, approximately 75 percent, ranked air conditioning as a "very important" feature in their homes. Among those who purchased a home without it, 65 percent of buyers said they would be willing to pay a median $1,880 extra for central air conditioning; a number we suspect would be much higher if the question had been asked anytime in the last two weeks. As might be expected, many more home buyers in the South and Midwest voted for central air conditioning as a priority, with 91 percent and 81 percent, respectively, saying this feature was very important.
53 percent of all respondents viewed a walk-in-closet in the master bedroom as a priority but Southerners were particularly fond of this feature with 66 percent prioritizing it. Hardwood floors ranked high with 28 percent of respondents and granite countertops with 23 percent, an increase of 7 percent for each over the last two years.
Having a satellite or cable TV ready home was highly ranked by 46 percent of respondents which seems a little strange given the wide availability of free installation of those systems.
While much has been written about a growing buyer preference for "green homes," those buyers who purchase existing homes are not nearly as demanding of such features as are buyers of new homes. The former place a high priority on energy efficiency in 39 percent of the cases compared to 65 percent of new home buyers who said it was very important. Older buyers, however, placed greater importance on energy efficiency than did younger buyers. 63 percent of buyers 75 and older said it was very important but only 32 percent of buyers in the 18 to 24 age group agreed.
Age, in fact, was overall the biggest determinant of home amenities. 74 percent of older buyers (those over 75) wanted a single-level home. A home that was less than 10 years of age was preferred by 43 percent and a walk-in-closet by 74 percent. More than half of buyers over 65 wanted a separate shower in the master bedroom compared to only 25 percent of those in the 25-34 age group. The younger buyers were more likely (60 percent) to want a backyard or play area.
Buyers still want bigger homes and newer homes, but they also want fewer bedrooms. In the two years between surveys the size of the typical home bought by survey respondents increased by about 100 square feet to 1,840 square feet but the median number of bedrooms went from four to three. The median age of the houses purchased was 12 years compared to 15 years in 2004.
Some good news for the construction industry; nearly 60 percent of recent home buyers undertook a remodeling or home improvement project almost immediately after purchasing their home. About half made improvements in the kitchen and half remodeled or improved a bathroom within three months after closing. These new homeowners spent a median of $4,350 on projects in that time period.
Finally, more than 50 percent of buyers believe that their home has high investment potential and another 40 percent think that the investment potential is at least moderate. Only 3 percent viewed the investment potential of their new home as low.