Study Pinpoints Features Most Valued in New & Existing Homes

WASHINGTON, DC — Purchasing a home is an important life decision, and many factors can influence the choices buyers make – including the products and features they select for the kitchen and bath.

That’s the word from the National Association of Realtors, whose recent study – 2013 Profile of Buyers’ Home Feature Preferences – examines the home features buyers prefer, as well as differences when it comes to region, demographics and household composition.

“Deciding where to live entails a lot of options, but buyers quickly realize that some features are more important than others,” said NAR president Gary Thomas, who noted that factors such as location, the school district and lot size are important factors – as are interior features.

According to the Washington, DC-based NAR, geography and demography strongly influence the interior features that buyers value in a home.

Among the 33 home features listed in the NAR survey, central air conditioning was the most important to the most buyers, with 65% considering the feature “very important.” The next most important feature was a walk-in closet in the master bedroom, with 39% of surveyed buyers saying they considered this very important. Closely behind was having a home that was cable-, satellite TV-, and/or Internet ready, as well as a master bathroom suite.

Stainless-steel appliances and a kitchen island are also much desired, the NAR said.

Buyers value some features so much that they are willing to spend more money to have them, according to the NAR. Sixty-nine percent of buyers who did not purchase a home with central AC would be willing to pay $2,520 more for a home with this feature. Sixty-nine percent of buyers who did not purchase a home with new kitchen appliances would be willing to pay $1,840 more for a home with this feature. 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.

The rooms that buyers were willing to pay the most for were a basement and an in-law suite, the NAR reported. Thirty-three percent of buyers would be willing to pay a median of $3,200 more for a home with a basement, and 20% of buyers would be willing to pay a median of $2,920 more for a home with an in-law suite.

The two most common rooms buyers were willing to spend more for were a laundry room and a den/study/home office/library. Sixty-three percent of buyers who did not purchase a home with a laundry room would be willing to pay $1,590 more for a home with this room. Forty-four 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.

Although 97% of recent buyers were satisfied with their home purchase, there are always features buyers would like that they don’t have, said NAR V.P./Research Paul Bishop.

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

Within three months of a home purchase, 53% of buyers undertook a home improvement project, the NAR said, adding that remodeling the kitchen (47%) was the most common home improvement project; and bathrooms (44%) were a close second. Forty-one percent of buyers who made home improvements added or replaced lighting, and 37% added or replaced appliances soon after becoming a homeowner, the NAR noted.

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