Garages, Central Air Rank High for Buyers' Needs
Only central air conditioning, coveted by 74 percent of all buyers, was more sought after by home shoppers. When
One of the most increasingly important features buyers want in a new house is outside the house, according to a new survey of home buyers by the National Association of Realtors. Nearly six in 10 home buyers say that having a garage with enough space to park at least two cars is very important.
Only central air conditioning, coveted by 74 percent of all buyers, was more sought after by home shoppers. When the Realtors conducted the same survey, the Profile of Buyers Home Feature Preferences, just three years ago only 41 percent of buyers rated a two-car garage very important; now its 57 percent.
"That was one that kind of puzzled us to being with," says Paul Bishop, economist in the research division of the National Association of Realtors. "It may be an outcome of our love affair with SUVs."
According to the Department of Transportation, by 2001 there were 1.06 vehicles for every licensed driver in America. Families are buying cars not only for each working spouse or commuting kid, but sometimes also for special seasons, hobbies or trips. The Census Bureau found in the year 2000 that 38 percent of households had two cars and more than 18 percent had three or more vehicles.
Of course, many garages have more clutter than cars in them. About half of buyers said they wish the home they did end up buying had more storage space.
The rule of thumb for architects is if you have two cars, you need a three-car garage for your extra stuff, says Lee Golanoski, director of design at Toll Brothers. One of Toll's most popular options is for a three-car garage with an extra 100 square feet of storage space for its high end homes. You always need the one car bay for storage.
Golanski says hes seen the desire for big garages grow over along with the popularity of buying in bulk.
When you come home with a case of paper towels, theyve got to live somewhere, Golanoski says. Storage has become much more important in last five years.
Not only do buyers want a garage, they want it bad. A full 72 percent of buyers said theyd be willing to pay more to get a garage. On average, theyd pony up an extra $2,680 for the car space more than any other room in the house.
The desire for a big garage seems to get more intense as people age. Just more than half of those under 25 rated the garage very important, but 82 percent of those aged 65 to 74 did. Repeat home buyers coveted a super sized garage more than first timers: 61 percent versus 41 percent. That may be, however, because young and first time buyers dont have as much money and dont set their hopes as high: they tend to buy smaller, older houses.
Theres no easy metric to figuring out what a potential buyer will want in your home because peoples priorities change with their life stage. Young parents obsess about the school district while retirees have different priorities. But preferences vary strongly by region.
Big garages were most popular out west (66%) and least needed in the Northeast (37%).
Perhaps it is no surprise that central air is practically mandatory in the South, where 91 percent of homebuyers rate it very important or that in the less humid northeast, only 41 percent of Yankees do. What is surprising is that the relatively mild Midwest 81 percent of buyers craves house-wide air-conditioning.
The Midwest and northeast are about 30 percent more keen on basements than the south and west. Golanski says that Southern states tend not to build down because of the water table; instead they build up with third floors or storage on top of the garage.
Sun rooms are twice as popular in the chilly northeast than in the west, where its easy to go outside and enjoy the sunshine.
Many buyers had opposite tastes: one third of buyers want a home less than 10 years old while 4 percent would really like a home built more than a century ago. Just as many buyers (12 percent) wanted a wooded lot with lots of trees as wanted an open lot with few trees. Granite countertops are now de rigueur, desired by 23 percent of all buyers and 41 percent of new home buyers.
For all these varied yearnings, there is some good news for homeowners: people are eventually able to afford the house they want. The Realtors asked buyers to compare the house they bought with their ideal house. For young buyers, the ideal was far off.
About four in ten buyers under 25 wanted a house one day that was newer, bigger and has more closets and a bigger kitchen. A quarter wants more bathrooms and bedrooms. Six in 10 young buyers need more storage space.
Older home owners are far more serene and satisfied: only a quarter of those 65 to 74 want a bigger house and only about one-third need more storage. Only about one in 10 needs another bedroom or bathroom. The disparity between the dream house and the house you live in starts shrinking in the 35-44 age groupso its probably not just a function of kids growing up and moving out. People really do end up in a house they like in the end.