What Homebuyers Really Want in a Home

For the modern homebuyer, what features go on the “must have” list? Are these features easy to find, or do they make finding the perfect home an impossible task?

If what you have in your house isn’t what’s trending, it may be difficult to appeal to a large number of homebuyers when you decide to sell. It’s also no sure bet that most builders and renovators will know what homebuyers want. To bridge the gap, a recent survey conducted by Erie Insurance sheds light on what today’s average homebuyer wants.

Where the most popular home features are

It’s reassuring to know that, according to the survey, more than half of U.S. homeowners are happy with the features of their homes. While the rest may be living with one or more regret in their home purchase, most people focus on a few key areas that matter most.

Kitchen counters

Always a big discussion, homebuyers care a lot about what material comprises their kitchen counters. In today’s argument it looks like quartz is edging out granite, which reigned supreme for quite a while. It makes sense that these two materials rank near the top of the list. According to Ryan Reed from HGTV, both materials have some strong positives going for them.

Granite is hard as stone and comes in a variety of colors and patterns. If you want an original countertop, there are no two slabs of granite that are alike. It’s a very durable surface and is heat-resistant, but it still has the potential to stain since it’s porous.

Quartz isn’t completely natural, which gives it the added advantage of being customizable. This can make it easier to find the exact slab you want. It’s more environmentally-friendly since you don’t have to reseal it yearly like granite. While it’s a harder material than granite, it can get damaged by excessive heat, so you can’t put pans straight out of the oven down on the surface without a hot pad.

Quartz sounds like a smart choice based on product information, but according to the Erie survey, granite is still the preferred option, with 40 percent of homebuyers including it on their wishlist.

Bathroom design

Nothing sells a house like the bathroom. “The two most closely inspected and anticipated rooms of a house are the kitchen and master bathroom,” according to Trulia. “They’re the interior spaces where the most value can be added during a sale.” This may be why most homebuyers have a lot of opinions about what they want to see in their future bathroom.

The first thing many people zero in on is the bathtub. Most modern homebuyers have expectations that the master bath includes a tub, but does it need to be freestanding? According to the survey, the answer is no. While 21 percent of homebuyers want a tub big enough to soak in, most are on the fence about the style they’d prefer. Interestingly, 34 percent don’t even want a tub at all.

Next on the master bath review is the sink. Couples often argue the necessity of two sinks, and survey data backs this up with 54 percent in agreement. However, about 33 percent of respondents felt undecided on the issue. If the counter is big enough, many homebuyers may be satisfied with one sink. Even when there is enough room for two sinks, including them can make the bathroom feel cramped, which might be worse than having to share. The final decision most likely comes down to the bathroom design and available space.

Security features

With modern access to doorbell cameras and home security systems that communicate with smartphones, it may be easier to install your own system rather than pay for an expensive professional installation. That being said, 44 percent of homebuyers appreciate residences that offer security systems with cameras already in place, according to the survey.

Demand for security features seems to vary by region of the country. Security systems with all the bells and whistles are more popular for houses in the Northeast, which may be a reflection of the region’s higher concentration of dense, urban environments.

Energy efficiency

A variety of products fit into the eco-friendly category, but based on the age and geographic location of your home, it could be hard to find them all in one place. This is especially true for features that are still cost-prohibitive.

Surveyed homebuyers primarily want solar panels and tankless water heaters. But outfitting a home with solar panels requires a hefty investment. “Solar panel costs for an average-sized installation in the U.S. usually range from $11,411 to $14,874 after solar tax credits,” according to Energy Sage. Any homeowner looking to install them should do the math to determine how much money they might save in electricity costs over time.

Tankless water heaters are much more affordable. According to the survey, 16 percent of homebuyers regret not installing a tankless water heater even when their home didn’t come with one. This makes sense since they can be between 8-14 percent more energy efficient for the average family of four.

Still on the wishlist

Other home features that homebuyers are looking for with a little less gusto include:

  • Walk-in pantry
  • Kitchen island
  • Finished basement

While the pantry tops the list of additional “wants,” each of these items are “must haves” for less than a third of the homebuyers surveyed. Seems like they fall more into the category of what would be nice to have, but aren’t deal breakers for consumers looking to purchase a home.

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Kyle Spearin

Kyle is Sundae's Real Estate Editor. As both an investor and content marketing professional, Kyle combines his passion for real estate investing and educational background with his love of helping others. His experience with real estate tech companies, including contributing to BiggerPockets Pro, gives him insight into markets across the United States.