Now that we've all smashed our way into a new decade (and I celebrated my birthday by getting my avalanche safety certification), it is time to take a look at what buyers are going to be itching for in the coming year.

There are certainly features that always stand the test of time. Like a roof that doesn't leak and windows that go up and down. But I digress. What we're focused on today are those features that (for the most part) you can add to or upgrade in your own home in order to make it more enticing for buyers. And as with all of these options, they simply make your home more pleasurable for you while you are still living there. Let's jump in. (And Happy New Year!)

The survey was done by and they picked the brains of 980 recent home shoppers. One of the more interesting notes I found was that these buyers were willing to pay between $2,500 and $4,500 more for a home that has the features noted below.

That's amazing news for those of us itching to do some projects this winter! It basically means that if you are planning to sell in the coming months, you should feel pretty confident that tackling any of these projects will likely pay off (if you watch your budget!).

The one feature that scored at the top of the list for baby boomers, generation Xers and millennials was the back porch or deck. Just last night while watching a skateboarding movie (Yes, I still skate at 49. Go me!) I heard myself saying "Wow, check out that back deck." I think at that point I realized I am fully an adult now.

Other experts have chimed in noting that homeowners are increasingly willing to sacrifice the actual size of their home if the trade-off means they get more usable outdoor space. I couldn't agree more. We have noted in the past about the value of outdoor living spaces and this reaffirms those comments.

The next item on the list, with 30.8 percent of respondents in agreement, is a newly renovated kitchen. For this one women were twice as likely to score this one at the top of the list.

For me, I "need" a large kitchen with room to move around. I also want soft-close drawers, a fridge with the freezer on the bottom and a gas burner stovetop.

Perhaps, I buck the trend a bit, but a nice kitchen is pretty high on my list of "must haves." And just like the note in the second paragraph, I am more than happy to pay a little extra to not have to deal with that remodeling project after I move in. I'll happily pay a bit more to have it ready to bake cookies when I sign the papers.

Hardwood flooring was next on the list and this was no real surprise. I'm telling you right now, if you are thinking of selling anytime soon, stop what you are doing (well, finish this awesome article first.) and start planning how you are going to rip up that carpet or (gasp) linoleum and put down some quality flooring.

It is essentially the first thing the buyers will notice once they walk in your home and it will have a big impact on their overall impression of the home. The one downside to this is depending on the size of the area you have to replace, this can get a bit costly.

I'm not a flooring expert by any means so talk to a smarty-pants that can give you some good advice. The one thing I will note is do not try and get away with the cheap "fake-wood" flooring materials that are out there. At the very least go with (what I believe is called) "engineered flooring" which has a layer of real wood at the surface.

This provides a far superior look and feel as well as giving you the option of sanding and refinishing any damaged spots that occur. I put this in my house across the entire first floor (and installed it myself with some help from a friend). It is just as easy to put down as the cheap stuff, but will last longer, look better and make the buyers love your home even more.

Some of the other top features were an open floor plan, finished basement, renovated bathrooms and a certain level of energy efficiency. It seems that some things truly never go out of style.

"Trends certainly seem to come and go, but high quality work and products as well as functional upgrades have stood the test of time," Badger Realty agent Linda Walker said. "If you stick to the basics and don't over-personalize your renovations, you will almost always come out on top."

I've always liked the winter months for renovations and upgrades. Sure, it can be a little messy (and smelly) since you can't easily open up and air out. But the ability to work indoors on a project and not sacrifice a perfect, summer, weekend day for bike riding is a win-win in my book. You can always call in sick to work if we get a powder day. I'll see you at the home improvement store.

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