Four Real Estate Upgrades That Today’s Homebuyer Expects

As homebuyers continue to gain access to myriad channels through which they can research designs, view new trends and learn more about decorating styles, it stands to reason that their final decision comes down to much more than cost. Instead, when they sign on that dotted line, they’re likely doing so not only because the price point was good, but also because they appreciate the upgrades, special touches and custom features that the home affords -- or at least they see the potential there, in the case of a fixer-upper.

For real estate agents, this new perspective requires a shift in how we talk about and showcase a new listing. While numbers will always talk, there should be an equal emphasis on the amenities the home provides and the advantages it offers compared to others in the neighborhood. That said, here are five special touches that discerning buyers are looking for today. Finding a home that features these upgrades can be like searching for a diamond in the rough, but the pursuit is well worth it in the end.

1. A Designated Laundry Room

Yes, your grandparents might have kept their washer and dryer in the kitchen or tucked into an obscure hallway, but today’s modern homebuyer is looking for a dedicated laundry room. Though the guest bedroom might work as a makeshift spot to fold laundry or dry delicates, it is not a sustainable solution. As such, if there is a room in your home that is currently unused or used very little, consider taking steps to turn it into a designated laundry space. Often, an unfinished basement is an ideal place to start, as it’s likely near the utility lines and will require a less intrusive (and expensive) construction project.

Why take this step? Having a laundry room helps to establish a specific spot for those piles of dirty clothes, stacks of clean shirts and random odds and ends that inevitably wind up near the hamper, rather than having these items strewn about aimlessly through the home.

In a recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), buyers listed a laundry room as the top feature they looked for the most when purchasing a new home. Especially for those who have rented for years and are excited about finally having their own personal appliances, the addition of such a room, no matter how small, can be a major bonus.

2. Energy-Efficient Appliances and Entryways

With so much technology at our fingertips, it’s easier than ever before to make small, yet meaningful, changes to the way our home operates. Chief among these changes is the shift to make our homes more energy-efficient and sustainable while reducing its overall carbon footprint. If you’re in the market to sell your home, consider if you’re currently running outdated, older model appliances that are draining your power and ramping up your monthly utility bill. If so, you’re likely not as energy efficient as you could be.

The same goes for your doors and windows. Unless they are properly caulked and sealed, you could be losing air through them, requiring your HVAC units to work twice as hard and simultaneously using more power. If your budget allows, install Energy Star-certified appliances and windows to cut overall costs and help your home conserve as much energy as possible.

3. A High-End Kitchen

It’s true that the kitchen is the heart of the home. This is where we prepare and share meals, gather around to talk with our loved ones and make some of our best memories. That said, if yours hasn’t seen a little TLC since the late seventies, chances are it isn’t quite as rustic and charming as you think. While throwback styles are all the range thanks in no small part to the farmhouse chic trend that is sweeping the nation, the reality is that although this aesthetic is meant to look old-fashioned, it’s still decidedly uber-modern.

From white subway tile backsplashes and ceramic apron sinks to top-notch ranges, high-end faucets and built-in refrigerators, there is a slew of options to pick from. Your best bet is to partner with a local kitchen contractor to help bring your vision to life. Chances are, you don’t need to totally overhaul your existing space. Rather, you may just need to change around a few things (e.g. swapping that linoleum floor for a hardwood one) to make a major improvement.

4. A Great Lawn with Designated Lighting

Curb appeal still reigns supreme. In fact, most interested homebuyers will make up their mind about your home before they even step foot inside the front door. As such, it’s worth taking the time and spending the money to get your landscaping in top shape before you begin showing your property.

Depending on your budget and timeline, you can select a few strategic places to make the change. For instance, you may want to invest in new shrubbery if yours has browned and withered away. Or, you might think it worth it to install a backyard patio or even a pool to amplify the prospect of entertaining. One place you don’t want to scrimp, however: your exterior lighting. What good is a great yard design if no one can see it once the sun goes down? A few smartly located up lights is often all it takes to beautifully illuminate your home and encourage passersby to give it a second look.

Meeting Buyers Where They Are and Appealing to Their Interests

Real estate agents have no shortage of points to consider when they go to list a new home or show an interested buyer a property. Yet, it’s important to keep in mind that there are some features that should be highlighted more than others. Moreover, these features will change as buyers tastes sophisticate. For instance, in years past, a big-ticket item to include in a home may have been berber wall-to-wall carpet. Now, that look would be considered outdated, with warm hardwoods favored in their place. Industry experts can stay abreast of these trends by reading industry publications, listening to their customers and partnering with design experts to learn what’s in and what’s definitively out.

Courtney Myers
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