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Home Features Buyers Want Most

Curious about which house features and layout trends buyers want most in a new home? Whether you’re thinking about buying, selling, or building a home, it’s helpful to know what features are highly desirable.

Today’s home buyers want convenient house plan designs that help them stay organized, allow them to live comfortably through all stages in life, and keep utility costs low. More importantly, buyers are looking for homes that don’t require much work on their end.

“Most buyers are looking for properties that are move-in ready,” said Benjamin Bear, a Denver-based realtor with RE/MAX. “When people feel like they’re paying ‘top dollar’ for homes, they want to see the home finishes that correlate with this perception of money spent.”

Move-in ready homes (also called turnkey homes) have updated appliances, newer HVAC systems, a new or damage-free roof, and have passed inspection with no issues. These homes are favored by buyers because they take the stress out of negotiations and make it a little less overwhelming to close on a new home.

But even if a home isn’t 100% move-in ready, there are other features that buyers are interested in. Below are some of the most popular house features home buyers want!

Hardwood Flooring

Known as a “bling feature,” hardwood flooring is desired by 87% of today’s buyers, making it one of the most desirable features in a home. In fact, hardwood flooring can add up to 2.5% to a home’s sale price! Durable, easy to clean, and long-lasting, hardwood floors are a great feature for any home style. If you have carpeted floors and don’t want to break the bank by refinishing them with hardwood, there are budget-friendly alternative options available.

Garage with Extra Storage

Interior of garage with built-in storage. Photo by Instagram user @aminteriorwood

Photo via @aminteriorwood

For many first-time buyers, owning a home is an opportunity to have more space after years of apartment living. That’s why 80% of home buyers want a large home garage with lots of storage space. Buyers of all demographics are drawn to this home feature because it’s easier to access items in a garage rather than an attic or basement. Home buyers also want a garage that can double as a mudroom or workshop with custom systems like built-in cabinets, storage cubbies, and shelving units.

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Open Floor Plan

Open floor plans are a highly sought-after home feature that appeal to buyers of all demographics. Nearly 84% of new homes have this feature, making open floor plans increasingly common in new and custom-built homes. Fewer walls between the kitchen, living room, dining room, and other areas mean more fluidity inside the home, making it easy for residents to navigate freely throughout the house and entertain large groups.

Modern Kitchen

Upgrades to the kitchen and bath areas are highly desired by buyers and bring the most return for a seller. “The market continues to be geared very much so toward kitchens and bathrooms,” said Bear. “Upgrades in these spaces remain one of the best ways to maximize returns on the sale of a residence.” Seventy-five percent of buyers want new appliances in the kitchen, as well as features like granite or quartz countertops, hidden or pullout storage for utensils, pantries with ample storage space, energy-efficient appliances, and even hardwood flooring. Home buyers will pay up to 40% more for an eat-in kitchen (i.e., kitchens with open floor plans). Also, kitchens with large center islands are increasingly popular with home buyers because these amenities eliminate the need for a formal dining room.

Full Bathroom on the Main Level

While bathroom updates are desirable in general, nearly 83% of buyers are looking for a full bathroom on the first floor, rather than the typical half-bath. A second full-bath can also increase the value of a home by up to 20%! Buyers will pay up to 49% more for a home with an upgraded bathroom suite, making this feature a must-have among all demographics. Other recommended bathroom updates include floating vanities, free-standing tubs, walk-in showers, upgraded appliances, and new cabinets and countertops.

Laundry Room Placement

Ninety-two percent of buyers say a laundry room is an essential house feature, topping the National Association of Home Builders Eye on Housing list. Especially if you’re building a custom home and thinking about how a laundry room factors into the resale value, there are several emerging trends with laundry room placement to consider. Features like an upstairs laundry room, a laundry chute to the main level, or even a spacious laundry room/mudroom combination are increasingly popular.

Finished Basement

A finished basement not only adds more square footage to a home, but it also has move-in ready convenience. Finished basements have huge appeal for buyers who want extra living and socializing space in their homes. Instead of being used only for storage space, finished basements evolve with the buyer’s needs and can be turned into usable rooms like a guest bedroom, wet bar, exercise room, or even a small apartment suite for a family member. If a home has an outdoor patio area or large backyard, a walk-out basement is another great option.

Outdoor Patio

Outdoor living spaces are great ways to extend the living space of a home without having to make major indoor renovations. Eighty-five percent of home buyers want an outdoor patio, making it a highly desirable feature. In fact, adding a patio to your home or upgrading an existing patio can increase the value of your home and provide a return on investment of between 100-500%.

Home Exterior Lighting

Exterior lighting gives a home a lot of curb appeal, making it stand out from others on the block. This house feature is desired by 92% of home buyers, as it helps illuminate a well-maintained lawn and other exterior details of a home. Front doors with pendant lights or lanterns are a gorgeous way to draw the eye, while garden lighting or walkway lights can brighten the entire property. Installing motion-sensor lights on a garage can also deter break-ins, providing a home with more security.

Energy-Efficient Appliances & Windows

Ninety percent of home buyers want houses with energy-efficient and eco-friendly HVAC systems because they keep utility costs down. Efficient refrigerators keep food fresh longer, which helps with saving on both utility and food costs. Energy Star-approved dishwashers and washer/dryers can monitor soil levels and automatically adjust water usage. But buyers aren’t just looking for energy-efficient appliances! Energy Star-approved windows can lower heating and cooling costs by nearly 12%, so it’s no wonder why nearly 87% of buyers consider energy-efficient windows to be an essential home feature!

Smart Home Features

Smart doorbell. Photo by Instagram user @augusthomeinc

Photo via @augusthomeinc

Smart home features are high on the list of desirable home amenities for new home buyers. “Smart home features are becoming popular, whether they be Nest thermostats or Ring video doorbells. Any smart home feature is an easy upgrade,” said Bear. Smart heating and cooling systems, command systems like Google Home, smoke detectors, and LED lighting systems can all be controlled via mobile device now, so this home feature is an appealing one for young, tech-savvy buyers.

Ceiling Fans

Curious what decorative feature 86% of home buyers want most in a new home? It’s not a fireplace or a fancy stove. It’s a ceiling fan! When used alongside air conditioning, ceiling fans are a cost-effective way to keep air circulating throughout rooms. In fact, using a ceiling fan can allow a four-degree temperature increase without discomfort!

Ample Closet Space

Organized, spacious walk-in closet. Photo by Instagram user @chase_amie

Photo via @chase_amie

Of all the apartments or older homes you’ve lived in, how many have had enough closet space? One advantage to buying a newer house is increased closet space. Homes that have walk-in closets with built-in wardrobes and storage are among the most requested house design features. But having enough closet space in the master bedroom isn’t the only area where home buyers want more storage space. Linen closets, entryway closets, laundry room closets, and pantries are also high on the list!

Flex Rooms

Flex room in home. Photo by Instagram user @excelhomes

Photo via @excelhomes

Flex spaces or bonus rooms deliver great value for home buyers because of their flexibility. These multi-purpose rooms can be used for a variety of needs, such as extra bedrooms, hobby rooms, or living rooms. Main-level flex rooms that are near full or half-bathrooms are also ideal as “granny-flats,” or first-floor master bedrooms for aging residents who may not be able to travel up and down stairs.

Home Office

Nearly 3.9 million of U.S. workers telecommute at least part of the time. As a result, home offices are highly desirable features for buyers. An area with plenty of space and lots of natural light are perfect for a work-from-home office. If you don’t have a dedicated home office, you can easily transform a spare bedroom, basement room, or flex space into a workspace.

Understanding the home features that buyers are looking for can help you upgrade your home or build a custom home that will evolve seamlessly through the years. If you’re thinking about selling your home soon, check out these other tips for how to sell your home fast!

Data from NAHB Eye on Housing Report & Kiplinger.