Home Features Buyers Want and Ones that Might be Turn Offs

Ever since buying our home nearly two years ago, my husband and I are always looking ways to improve our house, both for personal enjoyment and for future resale. Even though we plan on living here probably another 5-7 years, every addition and major change we make we try to keep in mind what that would mean for resale. I did some research on what popular home features buyers want and are looking for in 2015 as well as what ones could potentially be turnoffs. Some of the results are surprising!

features homebuyers want

I’ve gathered 7 home features that you should consider adding to your home if you have the budget, as well as 7 that you should stay away from. Of course, these are just suggestions and everyone’s opinions are different, but if you want to go for maximum resale value, take a look at my lists below!

Home Features Buyers Want

1. Separate Laundry Space

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Gone are the days of washing machines and dryers being shoved behind narrow closet doors or even bunked up in a guest bathroom. Home buyers these days are looking for an entirely separate laundry space, preferably one that is on the second floor (so it’s near the bedrooms) and has space for folding clothes, storing laundry supplies and hang-drying delicates. These spaces are pretty rare in older homes, but they are becoming more common in new builds. Consider adding one in if you have the space!

2. Walk-In Closets

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A lot of girls (and some guys!) have this one on their home wish-list. And who wouldn’t want a whole stunning room dedicated to playing dress-up a la Sex in the City?? People these days have more clothes and thus need more space to store them all. A lot of the small slider door closets in older homes just won’t do! Home renovators these days often take a little space out of the master bedroom, hallway, or hall closet and turn it into a great open walk-in closet space.

3. Updated Kitchen (Including a Kitchen Island)

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This one is a no-brainer – everyone loves a beautiful updated kitchen! Think granite countertops, an apron sink, beautiful white cabinetry and some trendy pendant lights. A HUGE home feature that most homebuyers want is an updated kitchen that includes an island. These stand-alone counters add tons of prep space as well as an easy breakfast area when stools are added. When updating a kitchen, go for classic and neutral colors and finishes so it will appeal to a large range of buyers and design types. If you don’t have the cash to do a full kitchen reno, consider repainting the cabinets you already have and adding new hardware – it really can make a world of difference!

4. Updated Bathrooms (Including Steam Showers)

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This home feature is also an easy one – just like update kitchens, home buyers are always looking for nice and updated bathrooms. Pink porcelain toilets and outdated linoleum just doesn’t cut it anymore! Nice bathrooms are always a major selling point for potential homebuyers. Add brushed nickel or oil-rubbed bronze fixtures for a classic and stylish look and update the backsplash with clean, neutral tile. Heated floors are also a lurxurious added bonus! Another huge feature that buyers look for in a bathroom is a steam shower – most people don’t have time to take baths anyway, so a tub just gets in the way. If you are doing a complete reno of your bathroom, consider taking out the tub and adding in a nice shower with steam features or double heads!

5. Finished Basements

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Where I live basements aren’t really common, even in older homes, but I know that they are vastly abundant throughout the rest of the country. Homebuyers love finished basements, especially if they house another bedroom and/or a bathroom. Finished basements are great for extra entertaining space (like a theater room or media center), home office space, or as a playroom for little ones. Unfinished basements can sometimes put off buyers (who wants to go into a creepy dank cement room to do their laundry??) but a finished space can really add a lot to your home value and potentially increase your bedroom/bathroom count.

6. Hardwood Flooring

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Carpeting is out, and wood flooring is in. This has been the trend for some time now, but a lot of older homes still have carpet (heaven-forbid if it’s shag!), which some people view as a breeding ground for germs, dust, and mites. Tearing out the carpet and installing nice hardwoods (whether they are real or engineered) instantly bumps up the charm and value of your home. People love hardwood flooring as it’s easy to maintain and clean, and the look  is very versatile and can be changed up by adding different rugs. Hand-scraped textures are particularly popular right now and provide added visual interst and luxury.

7. Energy-Efficient Windows

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This home feature might be hard to notice at first look, but the benefits of having energy-efficient windows really are staggering. Having double-paned and efficient windows can provide HUGE savings when it comes to heating bills and any financially-savvy buyer will be looking for them! A lot of older homes have single-paned/aluminum framed windows, which lose a lot of heat and are also easier to break by thieves or a rogue baseball. These types of windows are especially important in colder climates! Switching out your windows will not only save you money while you are living there, but they will also help resell your home when it comes time to move!

Home Features that Might Turn Buyers Off

1. Extensive Landscaping

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At first, this one may be confusing. Who wouldn’t want a private backyard oasis that looks like it came straight out of Better Homes and Gardens or HGTV? But in reality, extensive landscaping, abundant plant and flower life, and beautiful water features all take a LOT of time, effort, and money to maintain. We should know – when we bought our house the backyard had a zen garden gravel path going around the perimeter of the yard, not one, but two fish ponds, a babbling rock feature and LOTS of plant and tree life. We’ve slowly been removing these elements and opting for simple grass with a few flowerbeds. It may not look as lavish, but it will certainly be more maintainable and enjoyable for both us and any future homeowners.

2. Converted Garage

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Converting a garage is basically always a bad idea. ‘But people want more bedrooms,’ you say, ‘they want a bonus rec room!’ Sure, homebuyers may want those things, but they’ll like the original garage as it is far better than any room you could turn it into. Not only do you lose valuable place to park cars and store tools, boxes, and more, but usually garage conversions aren’t done well and you end up with an awkward looking space. The front of the house would still look like a garage but then it’s not and it’s just all sort of confusing. If you absolutely need to add another room, do it as an addition to another part of the house and let the garage remain for it’s intended purpose.

3. Open Shelving in the Kitchen

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Open shelving in the kitchen is all the rage these days, and I’ll admit – I love the look of it. So clean and open and all the little white plates just look so beautifully stacked in a row! But the reality of it is is that homeowners often have far more (and often mismatched) dishes than would fit on one shelf. A lot of homebuyers want cupboards where they can just hide the dishes and clutter and not worry about having to perfectly arrange the coffee mugs every single day. Plus you lose valuable additional storage space. While the layout may work beautifully in magazines, for most real-life homes they just aren’t practical.

4. Giant Jetted Bathtubs

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I love relaxing in a spa, hot tub, or bubble bath as much as the next person, but when it comes to having them in homes, it just isn’t a feature that will get used very much. Trust me, we have not one, but two jetted whirlpool bathtubs and I have taken a bath maybe twice in the 2 years that we have lived here. People’s busy lives these days just don’t leave very much time for baths, especially when kids and jobs are in the mix. Plus they are notoriously hard to clean with all the jets’ nooks and crannies, and the pump systems can be costly to fix if they break. Skip the fancy tub and opt for a luxe standing shower instead!

5. Wallpaper

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Wallpaper has been the bane of interior design’s existence for many decades, and while the popularity of it has declined, you’re still like to find it in some homes, especially in older ones. There are some trendier options when it comes to wallpaper now-a-days, but the fact of the matter is is that wallpaper is notoriously hard to get off and often homebuyers can’t look past the vintage rose damask and the prospect of trying to peel it all off. If you absolutely want to have some sort of pattern on  your walls, opt for a stencil and paint instead. The options are endless, it looks great, and can be easily painted over by you or the next homeowner!

6. Kitchen Desk Area

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A lot of builder-grade homes feature a little desk area in the kitchen – you know those little “command center” type spaces where you’re supposed to put a computer and neat little folders for all the kid’s homework? While they seem like a nice idea, generally these spaces in homes just end up being a dumping ground for clutter and are usually too small for people to work at. If you have one in your home already that’s fine, but if you are considering one in a reno, skip it and add more cabinets or an extensive pantry instead – these things are more likely to get used by homeowners and cut clutter in half!

7. Double Ovens

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Double ovens are definitely swoon-worthy when featured in magazines or on Pinterest. They produce lavish visions of cooking gourmet 3 course meals every night of the week and enough cookies to open a bakery. But unless you are a professional chef or cook a LOT, double ovens are a bit impractical and just take up space. At best they probably get used a couple times a year around the holidays, but other than that, it is just an additional appliance to clean that takes up valuable storage space. Instead of opting for the double oven, spend that money on other higher end appliances or splurge a little more on the backsplash or countertops. The homebuyers won’t even know the extra oven is missing.

What’s a feature that you’d love to have in your dream home?
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27 Comments

  • Kristi says:

    This is BRILLIANT Erica! We’re in the same boat, making sure we keep in mind how any changes we make will affect the re-sale value and appeal to potential buyers. This is a great list and I couldn’t agree more with EVERY bit of it!

    • Erica Sooter says:

      Thanks so much, Kristi! It’s always good to keep the future in mind because most people don’t stay in their homes more than 5-10 years! It hurt my soul a little to put open shelving on the no-no list, but even if they’re pretty, they just aren’t practical!!

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  • Will says:

    Have both a double oven and steam shower, the ovens gets used a lot more, but the shower does get used more then any jetted tub, ever.

    The Kitchen desk is something that I would use if I ever had a kitchen big enough, but Great (cubed) Gran’s serpentine front secretary in the family dinning space works well.

    Kitchen Islands are just a buffer to keep people out, so I prefer peninsulas. more storage so I can have the double oven.

    • Erica Sooter says:

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Will! Glad to hear your double ovens get a lot of use. You must be a great chef or baker! Everyone has different preferences on what they like or are looking for – the ones I listed in this article are based on industry standards and market research. I love hearing what people prefer though, so thank you for your comment! Have a great weekend 🙂

  • Fabulous list Erica!! You really pulled together a great list. And I’m totally with you on every item – except the finished basement. I’m in an area where everyone has a basement, and it should be clean and painted when selling. But appraisers value basement space at a much lower $ per square foot, so it doesn’t make sense from an investment standpoint. So that’s an investment you should only make if you’re going to use it a LOT yourself!

    • Erica Sooter says:

      Aw, thanks so much Laurel! And that’s so interesting about the basement! Where I’m from basements are actually really rare – most homes don’t have them! So when one comes on the market with a finished basement to be used for entertaining/guest space people get really excited! So interesting to see how markets differ from place to place 🙂

  • Sue P. says:

    Good article … and I agree with your Wants and Don’t Wants lists. I was happy to see that our house has everything on the Want list except the steam shower. That would be nice, but I do enjoy the claw foot tub now and then, especially in winter. We plan/hope to live in this home until we die so have been making changes during our first two years here so that we can enjoy them for years to come. Regarding the double oven, I actually use a countertop oven more than I use my “real” oven.
    Thanks for your insight!
    Sue

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  • Sarah Spain says:

    After spending two years looking for a home and in the process of building one, I TOTALLY agree with everything you said. Spot on. Great post!

    • Erica Sooter says:

      Aw, thanks so much, Sarah! I definitely hope this article helps home buyers and sellers. And it’s so neat you are building a home – how’s that process going??

  • Lezlie says:

    great list! A few years ago I really, really, really wanted double ovens. But in order to add them it would require some remodeling. Our solution was a convection microwave oven. I love it!

  • Awesome list. We have a big tub in our bathroom which is ridiculous and only the kids use it. I really wanted a double oven but they take up space, but they do make single double ovens which I think is genius for us who don’t cook a lot but still want the separate oven in the regular space.

    • Erica Sooter says:

      Thanks for stopping by Havalah! I totally agree – we have not 1 but TWO big jetted tubs and they just get in the way more than they get used. And I didn’t know there was such a thing as a single double oven – that sounds like a good compromise 🙂

  • anita says:

    Jetted tubs are hard to clean, having soft water and squirting bleach on the jets helps. Cleaning the tub is my least favorite and this is from a lady that likes to keep a spotless bathroom.

    • Erica Sooter says:

      I’m with you Anita – I love a clean bathroom but those jetted tubs make it so darn hard! I will have to try spraying some bleach in the jets – I haven’t tried that one yet!

  • Ginnie says:

    Great post!! One of the main reasons we bought our house was because it didn’t have a bathtub in the master room, in fact we remove the one in the guest bath, because it was so much work to clean it and nobody used it.
    I don’t like the open shelving in the kitchen. It does look pretty but whenever I see it all I can think of, it’s the amount of work it will take to organize everything every single time!
    I always wonder about the double ovens and why would people want a double oven. We have a microwave/oven combo and I love it. One oven should be enough for anybody, because like you said they will probably only be use during the holidays.

    • Erica Sooter says:

      Thanks so much, Ginnie! I totally agree with everything you said! We ended up buying a house with not 1, but 2 jetted large bathtubs and they are just such a pain! We never use them. Ah well! Next house I won’t make the same mistake 🙂

  • Jenny says:

    Oh man. I must be one of those who cooks A LOT because I wish for a double oven at least three times a week. I knew there was some reason my husband married me! 😉

    It is interesting about the open shelving. Would this be the same for half open and half cabinets? We are looking to sell and have an awkward place with no storage in the kitchen. I can’t find cabinets that match our old ones and don’t want to replace them all. We were thinking about resurfacing the existing ones and putting in a few open shelves. Any thoughts on that? Thanks! 🙂

    • Erica Sooter says:

      Haha, double ovens definitely aren’t a bad thing, Jenny and a lot of people really like them! I just meant that for the everyday average person they wouldn’t get used as much.

      I think adding a few open shelves to fill an awkward space sounds like a great idea! I really do love the look of open shelving as it makes a fun little display area. It sounds like that would be a good solution to your needs! In my post I was more referring to people who remove literally all the upper cabinets and leave nothing but shelves – that would make it a bit harder for resale since most people like to hide their junk and dishes. But adding a few shelves as an accent area sounds perfect 🙂 Best of luck in your house sale!

  • Laurie says:

    I am saying all the time how I wish I had a double oven, so I know I personally would use it. I hate open shelving, so you are right on that one. The kitchen is my favorite room in the house so for me it has to be functional and easy to use. Thanks for sharing!

    • Erica Sooter says:

      Absolutely, Laurie! Everyone has their own preferences – I was just merely referring to industry standards. If you love double ovens, by all means go for it! 🙂 The kitchen definitely is one of my fave spaces too, so it’s important that it looks and functions how you want it to! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • Marjie says:

    I agree with most of your points. I hate open shelving in particular. We built a retirement home two years ago and we were one of the few who opted not to install a jetted tub for all your reasons. I do disagree regarding double ovens. I cooked for my family but they’ve moved away. When they bring the grandkids, or entertaining, especially during the holidays, a double oven would be so useful.

  • Sharon says:

    Spot on article … and I agree with your wants and don’t Wants lists. I was happy to see that our house has everything on the want list except the steam shower.

  • Donald says:

    Fabulous Share!

    Buy and hold method which is actually effective and profitable as after purchasing property and keeping it on hold to see the increase in the cost and then selling it back undoubtedly give you huge profit.

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