Like it or not, buyers are still holding the keys to the kingdom in today’s Jackson NH real estate world. Sure, there has been a bit of a shift towards a more neutral market, but in general you need to at least make an effort to cater to their wants and needs. What the average home buyer is looking for has traditionally been a bit of a moving target. From a cozy, remote cabin in the woods to a sprawling “McMansion” in the suburbs, everyone’s tastes are a bit different. The good news is, there are some general trends that span across the market and give us a good idea of what the “average buyer” is looking for. Perhaps some of the trends you see here might help sway you, in one direction or the other, about your impending remodeling project.
It turns out size really does matter. A few weeks ago we talked about the trend towards smaller floor plans and the latest surveys back that up nicely. Americans noted that the ideal home size they were looking for fell between 1,400 and 2,600 square feet (59% of us). A mere 12% were looking for homes between 2,600 and 3,200 square feet and only 6% were looking for homes larger than that (I think we can safely assume those folks were not going to be the ones cleaning their own homes). Home builders were also surveyed and estimated that the average size of a newly built home in 2015 was going to be around 2,100 square feet.
Looking back at our history, we have not always had the amount of home space we enjoy today. In 1950, the average “square feet per-person” in an American household was 290. Incidentally, that is the exact size footprint of the cabin I lived in for almost 4 years. Today, the average American enjoys an expansive 924 square feet per-person. Everyone take a deep breath.
When looking for a home, there are certain amenities or features the average buyer is looking for. We all know the story when it comes to kitchens and baths, but there are other highlights that help sell the home and keep the buyer’s interest piqued. Energy efficient appliances, lighting and windows are high on that list. Along with a programmable thermostat and an insulated front door, these items are going to be of critical importance especially when shopping in New England. People are more conscious about both energy costs and energy waste.
Although overall floor plans are shrinking, high ceilings (9 feet and above), walk-in closets and linen closets are all features that have remained important. Maybe you don’t need to spread out the home so wide, but be sure you are making the most of all the space you have. I had no idea the value of a linen closet until I included one in my last home. Now, I can’t imagine where I used to put all that stuff. Walk-in closets always seemed extravagant to me and frankly unnecessary. Of course, at the time, I was a college kid with nothing in my dresser but t-shirts and jeans. Now I can fully appreciate the value of having that space for hanging items and general storage. The smaller the footprint gets, the more critical storage becomes. It is easy to maintain the sense of space when you have storage for all the “stuff”.
A laundry room was one of the last items on the top of the list along with having a separate shower and tub in the master bathroom. I think both of these items, dove-tailing with most of the others, speak to the trend towards the efficiency of space. While a laundry room may seem like an unnecessary addition of square footage it also de-clutters the kitchen or mud-room and simply makes for a more welcome and tidy home.
The obvious trend that goes along with a smaller floor plan should be a smaller price tag. We may see slightly higher numbers in the Mount Washington Valley since we’re dealing with a slightly more upscale market, but on average about half (45%) of today’s buyers are looking to spend under $200,000 for their next home. 31% are aiming for between $200,000 and $300,000 and the remaining 24% are reaching for something North of $300,000. It is no secret that we’ve seen the median home price drop a bit over the past 5 years, but since 2000, that number has jumped up $65,900 to an average of $272,900.
While we touched on it a bit earlier, the energy-efficiency of homes is still a very hot topic and much desired feature of homes being purchased today. Energy Star appliances, more natural light, extra insulation in the attic, panel or foam insulation elsewhere and energy-efficient HVAC systems are all critical to today’s buyer.
Housing industry experts predict the number of “green homes” built in 2016 will be 38% of all residential construction versus the 17% we saw in 2011. Energy efficient options are no longer cost-prohibitive and are doing well to pay for themselves through their savings in much less time. Were I not planning to sell my last house, I was going to work in a solar hot water system. In less than 5 years, not only would the savings have paid for the system, but I would be able to start selling the surplus power. Kind of a hard deal to pass up.
We talk quite a bit about what to do to help attract buyers. Who knows, maybe in a few months we’ll be talking about how to deal with multiple offers on your home. The top features today’s buyers are looking for not only make sense for sellers, but also make sense for homeowners not selling. Taking any of the previous suggestions will increase the value of your home and increase your overall enjoyment of it. Special Thanks to our friends are Realtor.org for all the nitty gritty details from the stats above.