It’s that time of year again and the spring market is ramping up with a lot of buyers out there searching for new homes. Several of our realtor partners have noted record numbers of buyers at open houses because people are once again shopping for real estate. So what are buyers looking for in 2012? Well, after reading a really great article from AvidBuilder.com called Designing for the 2011 Canadian Home Buyer, my partner and I noted trends which we had talked about previously, being highlighted. In addition to what is in the article, we have added the trends we have noted buyers searching for.
1) Open Concept Homes - Gone are the days where buyers want homes with separate spaces for different family functions. More and more when we stage homes, we are advising our clients to create multi-purpose spaces so that buyers can see how valuable and functional open areas can be. Large rooms especially need to be laid out so that no area is wasted because buyers see more value in rooms they walk through. Does this mean the office in the master bedroom? No. This DOES mean in a family room there should be a media area, office area and even a separate reading or games area.
Design created by Candice Olson and showcases a multi-functional space.
2) Smaller homes – Big homes come with big price tags, big time commitments and are expensive for many to keep up. In the article, it addresses the fact that buyers are looking for homes which are smaller with modern open floor plans. Instead of buying large homes, buyers are looking to stagers and designers to create practical, functional and appealing areas which can serve a variety of functions. Its not so much how big the space is anymore, its how well its being used.
3) Outdoor Living Spaces – We have seen the popularity grow for these spaces and now we emphasize their importance to sellers whenever we consult on a home. In the winter time its not so easy to create a lush outdoor living space but as soon as warmer weather hits, this should be a big consideration for home owners. Not only does it increase a buyer’s perception of how much living space there is in a home, it adds tangible value to the home because so many people are not vacationing abroad. Money is tight and having an oasis in their backyard is a huge selling point for them.
Add Value with Outdoor Living Areas
4) Neutral Decor – If you know anything about home staging then you also know this is an essential element to creating a home which appeals to MANY as opposed to a select few. This element of home staging isn’t going away in fact its gaining appeal as more and more buyers are willing to pay MORE money for a home with a neutral colour palette as opposed to a home which has been personally decorated. We’re also not talking just about boring beiges – there are a ton of fantastic modern neutrals which add depth, character and interest to spaces without making them dull. A professional stager will be able to advise you on the colours which will give you the most bang for your buck!
A neutral color palette does not mean boring! Adding key accents to neutral walls livens up any space.
5) Upgraded and Modern Kitchens – These areas remain the core of the house and this is the key room where money invested has a fantastic return on investment (ROI). We wrote a whole article on the top 10 Kitchen Upgrades so be sure to check that out as buyers fall in love with homes based upon their kitchens.
Kitchens are Vital Spaces
6) Smart Growth or Density Planning – Canadians are trending towards communities which are dense in site planning. This means that builders need to be planning communities which offer a lot of amenities in more tightly packed areas in creative and innovative ways. Just in our area alone, condominium developments are the buzzword as buyers are looking for these types of homes which offer a rich variety of amenities with floorplans that offer the multi-functional open spaces we noted earlier.
7) Going Green – From high efficiency furnaces to energy efficient appliances and windows, these ugprades are key things that buyers are searching for when looking for homes. Incorporating a recycling and composting center into the kitchen, mud room or garage are just as exciting to buyers as architectural features such as fireplaces or walk in closets. Why? It’s all about conservation. Conservation of energy, conservation of costs and being efficient and practical when it comes to running your home. We want to decrease our energy footprint in response to the global concern about the environment and because its also all about financial conservation. If you’re selling your home, it pays to go green in as many aspects of your home as possible and we will list in another blog article the top ten Green upgrades.
8) Linen Closets and Smart Storage Options – As we noted above, open concept plans with multi-functional areas are now on buyer must have lists. With this comes the need for clever storage options built into these spaces. From well designed walk in closets to built in storage options in living spaces which can accommodate all our ‘stuff’ and still keep it accessible. Building storage options into smaller spaces is a key way to get buyers excited about your home when it goes on the market.
Built in shelving offers flexible storage options for buyers.
9) Energy Efficient Fixtures and Appliances – In keeping with Green movement, buyers are looking for fixtures that are energy efficient and which offer options. For example, upgraded lighting and layered lighting plans within a given space are very important because they offer a wide variety of lighting options which can be tailored to fit a specific task. Instead of flipping on over head lights, having the option to go with softer and more energy efficient task lighting is very appealing to buyers. Additionally, low flow toilets is a huge selling point as toilets use 27% of the household water and leaking toilets can waste up to 300 gallons of water a day. In the kitchen and laundry room, appliances are just as important as they are items which are used every day and account for a huge chunk of a home’s energy and water costs. Again, its all about conservation and if your home showcases an efficient use of space, materials, energy and water, buyers will mentally justify the property’s asking price.
10) Double Car Garages – Again, its all about multi-functional space. Buyers want a garage which will serve as both a spot for their car but also as a work space, a storage space and yes, even an entertaining space. If you have a single car garage, you need to ensure that this space remains absolutely clutter free so that it does not become a bigger impediment for buyers who might think that because the area is so cluttered that there simply wouldn’t be enough room for their stuff. That’s a deal breaker for many. If you have a double car garage, keep it organized, keep it neat and showcase its many potential functions. Buyers will love the added value!
We see a lot of other items which didn’t make our top 10 list but which are still important when it comes to selling your home. Bottom line is when you’re considering selling your home, look at all the different ways you can add those elements that buyers are looking for. Watch for the sales on water and energy efficient fixtures so that you can upgrade your home inexpensively. The more wisely you invest in your home, the greater appeal it will have when you put it on the market. If you aren’t sure what you should do to get your home ready for sale, consult with a professional stager who will be able to advise you on smart upgrades and choices for your property. Additionally, seek out experts such as REEP who have excellent Green resources and can help you make smart choices on how to invest your money wisely in your home.