What Buyers Are Looking for in a Single Family Home
By Michael Tobias
Whether you are selling a cottage, a double-story mansion, or a simple bungalow, when buyers evaluate the assets of a single-family home there are guidelines to help them make the right choice.
Of course, not everyone is looking for the same sized home as other people are looking for. A “single-family” might be a young couple planning to have children, an older couple retired from working, or a family with children of different ages. There are many possibilities. So the first thing most buyers will look at is the size of the house, the sleeping accommodation, and the living facilities it offers.
Then they will look at the condition of the house. Some people are looking for their “dream home” that they can move into without having to make any changes while others are happy to embark on renovations, particularly if they can buy at a lower price.
Anyone wanting a fixer-upper will generally be happy if the condition of the house is less than perfect, especially if defects and imperfections will enable them to lower the price. But they will need to consider just what has to be done and whether it will work as a DIY project or whether they will need to elicit the services of one or more professions, for instance:
- An architect to draw plans for additions or major renovations.
- An electrical engineer to design an LED lighting system.
- A plumber engineer to suggest and design a feasible rainwater harvesting system.
- A LEED-certified mechanical engineer who can design an effective heat recovery system.
- A talented landscaper who can help to transform outdoor spaces.
Even if no major renovations are to be undertaken, older homes seldom meet the energy-efficiency requirements of discerning buyers. For this reason, a variety of professionals and skilled artisans may be employed by buyers even before they move into their new homes.
So what are the top ten features or elements today’s home buyers are looking for when they go in search of a single-family home?
Top Ten Factors Buyers Consider When Looking for a Home
These aren’t necessarily the only factors that buyers will consider, and they are not presented in any particular order since one person’s priority may be totally different from another’s.
1. Price and Affordability
Whatever anyone is buying, the price must be right and the buyer must be able to afford to pay either in cash or by raising a mortgage. A buyer will have a very good idea of what he or she is willing and able to pay and will usually confide in the real estate agent they are dealing with.
2. Position Position Position
The location of the house is vital. But probably even more important is positioning of the building on the site. For instance, positioning the house so it can maximize solar energy during winter will minimize heating costs. This is the key to passive heating while including overhangs in the design of the building helps to keep it cool in summer.
3. Transparency in Terms of Defects
All too often sellers will do everything they can to hide defects. Many sellers will welcome transparency so they know what they are dealing with. So, sellers should clean up and they can certainly disguise some faults with filler and/or a coat of paint, but they shouldn’t try to hide major faults.
If buyers are concerned, they should, and often do hire a reputable home inspection company to check out physical defects including faulty water heaters, leaks, and so on. Some companies will also establish whether all the structures on the property are legal and have been approved. So if you are selling, make sure you aren’t trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes!
Potential buyers need to know what accommodation is offered in the house. Usually, this is simply the number and size of bedrooms. However, there may be nebulous rooms that could be used for a guest bedroom, or a study or office, that could also be used to accommodate more or one children in the family.
Sometimes single-family homes have sheds or cottages on the property that increase the accommodation, offering teenage children, elderly relatives, or visiting friends a place to stay.
5. Living Facilities – Inside & Out
A cottage or bungalow might only have one living room, while a more modern single-family home might have a separate dining room. Larger homes, even if not mansions in the traditional sense, usually have living areas with defined functions: perhaps a lounge, a dining room, a study, and possibly even a library.
Storage space is usually important too, and many buyers prefer to have a separate laundry room and some type of pantry room or cupboard for storing food.
Nowadays, outside living facilities are even more important, especially patios and decks. Every buyer’s needs will be a little different, but if there is a built-in barbecue or a fire pit, this might be the very feature they are looking for and it might clinch the sale.
6. Energy-Efficient Systems
Energy-efficient systems keep the costs of running and maintaining homes down, which is why buyers love them. They include:
- Controlled ventilation
- Heating and cooling systems
- Lighting systems that help to reduce energy bills
- Energy-efficient appliances
7. Renewable Energy Opportunities
There is no denying that energy-efficient homes cost less to operate, and if they can generate at least some of the required energy on site, this will be a huge advantage and a selling factor few buyers will ignore.
The most popular option here is solar power, with wind energy coming a close second. Both can be quite expensive to install, so if the home boasts these renewable energy options, you’ll soon have an increased number of potential buyers wanting to evaluate efficiency.
8. Ability to Conserve Water
Water is an invaluable asset and we need to protect it. There are various ways we can do this from using water-saving plumbing fittings (faucets, showerheads and so on) and installing water-saving appliances to asking a plumbing engineer to design a system that recycles greywater or harvest rainwater.
If systems that conserve water have been installed, it might convince a buyer that this is the right house to buy.
Smart security systems are a great option and they can add significant value to a home. A well-designed system allows homeowners to arm and disarm using a smartphone and a simple app. They can be designed to incorporate all sorts of features including a passive infrared (PIR) camera that detects movement in the home, power switches for turning appliances on and off, or smart locks that can be used to gain access to the property remotely.
Alarm systems may incorporate sensor technology that is invaluable not just to alert when people enter or leave the house, but also to detect fire or the presence of carbon monoxide.
Exterior lighting is also valued by potential buyers.
10. Resale Value
Anybody buying a new home is going to want to have equity that will ensure an increased resale value. Once they have considered the assets a house offers in terms of price and what it offers, they will decide whether to buy or not to buy! It really is as simple as that.
Michael Tobias is the founder and principal of Nearby Engineers and New York Engineers, which is an Inc 5000 Fastest Growing Company in America. He leads a team of more than 30 mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineers from the company headquarters in New York City, and has led numerous projects in New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, and California, as well as Singapore and Malaysia. He specializes in sustainable building technology and is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council.