More home buyers want extra garage space with two or more spaces in their homes, according to the “2007 Profile of Buyers’ Home Feature Preferences,” which was released Tuesday by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.
The number of buyers expressing a desire for oversized garages grew 16 percentage points since NAR's last survey of buyer preferences in 2004. About 57 percent of home buyers surveyed now say they want an oversized garage. What's more, among buyers who purchased homes without big garages, 56 percent said they would have paid more for an oversized garage, compared to only 6 percent in the 2004 survey.
NAR's latest home buyer preference survey, which reports responses from buyers who purchased homes in 2006, asks buyers about the importance of 75 home features and room types.
What They're Shopping For
Other priorities for today’s home buyers include:
- Air conditioning: three out of every four respondents surveyed ranked this as “very important.”
- Master bedroom walk-in closet: 53 percent of buyers rated this as an important feature in a home.
- Hardwood floors and granite countertops: each gained 7 percentage points in popularity since the 2004 survey; 28 percent and 23 percent, respectively, of buyers labeled these home features as very important.
- Cable/satellite TV-ready: 46 percent, a growth of 6 percentage points from the 2004 survey, said this was important.
- Energy efficiency: especially among new-home buyers — 65 percent of new-home buyers said energy efficiency home features are very important compared to 39 percent for buyers of existing homes.
Buyers also said they're willing to pay more for these extras. For example, 65 percent of buyers said they would be willing to pay a median $1,880 extra for a home with central air conditioning. One out of four buyers also was willing to pay a median of $4,760 more for waterfront property.
What home buyers want in the South, however, is not always what buyers in the West want. The survey identified some of the following regional preferences in home features:
- Home buyers in the South and Midwest viewed central air conditioning as a priority, with 91 percent and 81 percent, respectively, saying this feature was very important.
- Sixty-six percent of buyers in the South thought a walk-in closet in the master bedroom was very important, while 61 percent of Midwesterners valued an oversized garage.
- In the Northeast, the highest percentage of buyers placed a premium on a backyard or play area (53 percent), followed by central air conditioning at 41 percent.
- Two-thirds of buyers in the West want oversize garages (66 percent), followed by central air conditioning at 59 percent.
Fixing up the Nest
According to the survey, nearly six out of 10 recent home buyers took on remodeling or home improvement projects within three months of their purchase. Close to half of home buyers who remodeled or made improvements updated their kitchen, and nearly half remodeled or improved their bathroom.
New-home owners spent a median of $4,350 on home improvement or remodeling projects undertaken within three months of purchase.
“The fact that a majority of home buyers quickly remodel key areas of their homes ties into the fact that their home is a good, long-term investment,” says Paul Bishop, NAR manager of real estate research. “Regardless of market conditions in the short term, when purchased for the long term, housing is one of the safest investments consumers can make.”
Indeed, more than half of home buyers said they believe their home has high investment potential, and another four out of 10 say it has moderate investment potential. Only 3 percent felt their home’s investment potential was low.
Age was the biggest differentiation in what buyers were looking for in a home. Buyers 75 years old and older wanted a single-level home (74 percent) that was less than 10 years old (43 percent) with a walk-in closet in the master bedroom (74 percent).
On the other hand, most buyers between the ages of 25-34 wanted a backyard or play area (60 percent).
More than half of buyers over 65 wanted a separate shower enclosure in the master bathroom, compared to only one-fourth of buyers ages 25-34.
Also, older buyers placed a higher priority on energy efficiency home features than did younger buyers — 63 percent of buyers 75 and older said it was very important, but only 32 percent of buyers who were 18-24 agreed.
Overall, the survey also revealed that while homes are getting bigger, the number of bedrooms is shrinking. From 2004 to 2006, the size of the typical home purchased increased by about 100 square feet to 1,840 square feet, while the median number of bedrooms dropped from four to three during that same period.
The median age of the home reported in the current survey is 12 years, down from 15 years in 2004.
Real estate practitioners see hundreds, if not thousands, of houses with their buyer clients every year and know exactly what buyers are looking for in a home, says NAR President Pat V. Combs. “This insight is one more way REALTORS® add value to the real estate transaction,” Combs says.
— REALTOR® Magazine Online