11 features that will make your home sell faster

The formerly hot housing market is showing signs of cooling off.

Sales of existing homes in March 2019 were down 4.9% from the previous month, and all home sales were down 5.4% from a year ago, according to data from the National Association of Realtors. While parts of the Midwest and California still have plenty of strong real estate markets, it’s a different story in much of the Southeast.

So how do you make your house stand out in a crowd?

You could start by making sure your property has all the features homebuyers want most. For its 2019 What Home Buyers Really Want report, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) surveyed recent and prospective homebuyers to pinpoint features they deemed essential or desirable.

Based upon their report, here are the top 11 features that many homebuyers want to see at your open house, from good features to those most desirable of all. 

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Features that will sell your home
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Features that will sell your home

11. Energy Star certification

Buyers who want it: 81%

The Energy Star Residential New Construction Program certifies that a home or an apartment meets updated energy efficiency standards. Homebuyers are willing to pay an extra $8,728, on average, for a home that saves them $1,000 a year in utility bills, according to the NAHB report. In fact, more than a third of those surveyed said they’d spend more than $10,000 for those energy savings.

If you have an older home to sell, making it more energy efficient, even without certification, may help encourage a faster sale. Most (69%) of the 6,000 real estate agents surveyed recently by the National Association of Realtors said that promoting a home’s energy efficiency features in its listing is very or somewhat valuable.

10. Double kitchen sink

Buyers who want it: 81%

If you think dishwashers have made double kitchen sinks a thing of the past, think again.

There are plenty of benefits to a double sink, including easier meal prep, better access to garbage disposals and convenient hand washing of items that don’t go into a dishwasher.

Those may be some of the reasons why 81% of homebuyers told the NAHB researchers that a double kitchen sink was either “essential” or “desirable.”

9. Hardwood floors

Buyers who want it: 83%

Plenty of vinyl and laminate flooring options replicate hardwood, but most homebuyers want the real thing. Hardwood flooring has a reputation for being durable and environmentally friendly as well as for maintaining value.

Other surveys underscore the desirability of hardwood flooring in a home purchase:

8. Walk-in pantry

Buyers who want it: 83%

A solid majority of homebuyers say a walk-in pantry is either “desirable” or a “must-have” feature.

If you can swing the cost, find space to build one into your home before listing it. Buyers may reward you.

7. Exterior lighting

Buyers who want it: 85%

Good exterior lighting is high on homebuyers’ lists of desires. It serves many functions. For example, it can:

  • Enhance the landscaping around a home.
  • Create an inviting atmosphere.
  • Promote safety.

Not only does exterior lighting deter would-be criminals but, when done well, it also helps residents and guests avoid potential tripping hazards at night.

6. Garage storage

Buyers who want it: 85%

If you don’t already have a storage system installed in your garage, you may want to give it some thought before placing the home on the market.

Nearly half of homebuyers surveyed by the NAHB called garage storage “desirable,” and 36% declared it “essential.”

In 2017, American households installed about 1.4 million garage wall storage systems and some 381,000 garage ceiling storage systems, says the Home Innovation Research Labs Annual Consumer Practices Survey.

5. Ceiling fan

Buyers who want it: 85%

One inexpensive way to improve your home’s appeal is to install a few ceiling fans. The vast majority of homebuyers are looking for them.

In addition to adding character and interest to a room, a ceiling fan can be an energy-saver. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, having ceiling fans lets you set your air conditioning 4 degrees higher in summer while staying just as comfortable.

4. Energy Star rated appliances

Buyers who want it: 86%

Energy Star rated appliances should add to a home’s attractiveness in the market, the NAHB survey findings suggest.

By installing these highly efficient appliances, not only would you enjoy energy savings now, but the investment may help a home sell faster when listed.

Energy Star appliances are the most cited must-have green feature on the list, with 40% of survey respondents telling the NAHB that Energy Star rated appliances are “essential” and 46% of respondents calling them “desirable.”

3. Patio

Buyers who want it: 87%

A patio can extend a home’s living space. It also may add curb appeal and possibly increase a home’s value.

The NAHB found that buyers were looking for patio living space. The National Association of Realtors’ 2018 Remodeling Impact Report: Outdoor Features also did, listing patios among top features for buyer appeal.

The NAR, noting that a patio addition can return 69% of an investment at resale, ranks it fourth among outdoor projects that add value.

2. Energy Star rated windows

Buyers who want it: 89%

Energy Star rated windows are the top green feature sought by homebuyers, according to the NAHB survey.

Nearly 9 in 10 buyers want these highly efficient windows, with 38% of survey respondents saying they are “essential” and 51% classifying them as “desirable.”

That’s not surprising. Energy Star windows can save up to $465 a year compared with single-pane windows, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

1. Laundry room

Buyers who want it: 91%

If you don’t have a laundry room in a home you intend to sell, it’s a good idea to figure out how to create one.

A laundry room is the number one feature sought by homebuyers, with 91% calling it “essential” or “desirable.”

You can’t blame them. Who wants laundry spread across the couch or kitchen table when tending to those piles of clothes could be neatly contained in one room?

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