Last week, we talked about how to keep your home looking tip-top amidst the normal flurry of everyday life. The goal being to have your home “mostly” ready for a showing with just a few quick touches.
With that in mind, we’re going to shift our focus from the sellers to the buyers today. The objective is to see if we can peek into the mind of those elusive, mysterious, first-time buyers.
In a survey by Clovered, a home insurance resource, over 1,000 “first-timers” were asked about what features mattered most when considering a home.
The survey separated the groups into age brackets. From my perspective, there was really no discernable difference between the boomers, gen-xers and millennials. The one area that stood out was the style of home, and millennials (two to one over the other two generations) chose “modern.”
Beyond that the numbers were pretty similar. Preferred number of bedrooms: four. Preferred number of bathrooms: three. The information below is good information for real estate professionals and buyers alike. Now both parties can skew their marketing of listings and highlight the appropriate (most attractive) areas. Let’s dig in.
Outside of the home structure itself, the number one priority was affordability of the area. Also referred to as “cost of living,” the buyers are looking beyond the mortgage payments and focusing on all of the secondary costs associated with living in this area.
For those of you who have bounced around a bit like myself, you have learned that living in Boulder, Colo., or Hanover is going to be more expensive than more rural areas like Longmont, Colo., or Benton.
Crime rate was next on the list and I couldn’t agree more. When I attended college in Philippi, W.Va., it was the city with the lowest crime rate in the state and (at the time) the state with the lowest crime rate in the country! Not only do we want our groceries to be affordable, we don’t want someone to steal them as we walk to our car.
“There is certainly a trade-off for living in more rural areas such as proximity to stores and variety of places to eat and shop,” said Badger Realty agent Kevin Killourie. “But the benefits such as lower crime, lower pollution, less congestion and simply fewer people are more than worth the trade.”
Moving inside the home, those surveyed had some strong opinions about what was on their “must have” lists. Topping the list at 62.7 percent was central air conditioning. Honestly, I have never (until this current home) enjoyed this luxury and it is simply amazing. I see where they’re coming from. Next was a private back yard at 61.9 percent.
For those of you who have been reading along all these years, you know I’m “all in” with this one as well. Having a place for your kids and pets to play, not to mention the ability to grill a burger or soak in the hot tub with some privacy, is worth its weight in gold.
Storage was next on the list along with a separate laundry room. I think we can all remember those tiny apartments we lived in as we worked our way through early-adulthood — or maybe you’re still working through. One of my biggest complaints about those locations was the lack of space to put, well, anything.
In my previous home, we had a laundry shoot that dumped clothing down a floor into the laundry room. I felt like a king in a castle. Space is huge and being able to delineate areas of the home for specific purposes is honestly a luxury. If you can find ways to do this in your home, those potential buyers will take notice.
Natural light, hardwood floors and an open floor plan were all in the top 10. I lumped these three together because in my mind they all provide the same thing: light.
If (as noted above) one of those crappy apartments in your past was in a basement or (more likely) had limited windows and/or light, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Light, open areas and hardwood flooring all scream “space” to me.
Even if you are in a home that is limited on actual square footage, you can use these features to “open” it up. While adding a window (or windows) or moving (or removing) a wall can be a bit of an undertaking, swapping out your flooring is doable and affordable.
On a final note, and moving back outside the home, first-time buyers are prioritizing geography of the area, friendly neighbors and climate. All of those fall in the top 10.
In case you forgot, walk over to your front door. Open it. And stand outside. You are fortunate enough to be living with all three of those factors (assuming you appreciate a crisp fall day like myself).
If you are selling your home, don’t forget to highlight those features in your listing. You live in an amazing area and you should be proud to remind buyers of that when they are looking. Happy selling.