Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Selling a home? This is what today’s buyers want

Every homebuyer is different, but each purchase provides valuable information that forms trends. Today’s real estate buyers are savvy, cost-conscious married couples looking to downsize and save.

According to a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors, 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, a majority of buyers, 66 percent, were married couples purchasing a detached single family home with a 10-percent down payment. The typical homebuyer, according to NAR, searched for three months and viewed 10 houses in person. The most desired homes had three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a garage and a basement.

“I always say, wives buy the kitchen and husbands buy the garage,” says Mary Jo Quay, a real estate agent with the Minnesota Real Estate Team in Minneapolis. “Everybody has a wish list much more extensive than their pocketbook.”

But as prices rise — more than 11 percent in 2013 — buyers are voting on features that get the deal closed.

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  • For instance, 57 percent of buyers between 2010 and 2012 purchased a single-family home with a fireplace, according to the 2013 Home Features Survey by the NAR. A whopping 78 percent chose a house with a garage. Robert Joffee of The Joffee Group, an Arizona-based realty company, says he’s selling houses with four- to six-car garages. However, he said those same buyers want a smaller lot. “They don’t want the maintenance,” he said.

    The same holds true in Lake County, Illinois.

    Leslie McDonnell, team leader of the Leslie McDonnell Team at RE/MAX Suburban in Libertyville, Ill., says her buyers are searching for zero-lot-line homes similar to those found in retirement communities, even though they are well under retirement age.

    “They want a garden, but they want to simplify,” she says. They’re gravitating away from the McMansions because they’re tired of paying those taxes.”

    On a $450,000 house in Vernon Hills, a village in Lake County, typical property taxes would just shy of $10,000 per year, she says. Today’s buyers are very tax-sensitive. “They would rather spend a little less to get a smaller house and still be able to go to Disney World if they want to,” McDonnell adds.

    Geography and demographics also dictate housing preferences.

    Southerners tend to buy newer homes with central air conditioning while Northeastern buyers preferred houses with hardwood floors. Older buyers placed a high importance on a first-floor bedroom while middle-aged buyers gave a laundry room high priority. In fact, the rooms that buyers were willing to pay the most for were a basement and an in-law suite, to care for aging parents or to house children returning home from college. According to the survey, buyers said they would be willing to pay around $3,200 more for a house with a basement.

    Joffee specializes in the luxury home market — houses at the $2 million dollar price point and higher. For that buyer, he says, a finished basement with a temperature controlled wine cellar and tasting bar is in demand.

    Also generating top dollar, he says, are houses with “separate toilet areas.” One master bathroom in which the couple shares the shower, bathtub and dual vanities, but has dual toilets and a urinal, said Joffee.

    First time homebuyers cannot be so picky. Quay in Minnesota says her buyers are happy to just find a house. With bitter temperatures below the freezing mark, she said she expects the spring will be a very competitive market. “March will start to pop,” she said from all the pent up demand.

    © CTW Features


    Chrystal Caruthers CTW Features