7 Features Home Buyers Want the Most

Interested in buying a new home? It's a good idea to be aware of what new homebuyers are looking for. I interviewed Markus Brown, a Realtor in Orange County, California, about what he sees buyers looking for in potential new homes. The following features are currently generating a lot of demand, which may potentially translate to higher home values.

1. An Open Floor Plan

The days of compartmentalized rooms all separated by walls and doors are gone, and the era of connected living continues to be one of top new home trends. Specifically, buyers "want the kitchen to be open to the family room, which creates the "great room" as it's most typically defined," says Brown. Homebuyers are also looking for an open floor plan kitchen, as it allows people to flow to and from the heart of the home during gatherings.

2. Hardwood Floors

Forget the wall-to-wall carpet, today's homebuyers are looking for hardwood floors on the main floor of the home, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Hardwood flooring looks especially beautiful when flowing throughout an open floor plan.

3. A Modern Kitchen

New homebuyers are looking not just for an updated kitchen, but a modern kitchen design that hits the latest trends. Granite continues to trend, but the pattern in the granite tends to be characterized by more "movement and flow," according to Brown, as opposed to a busy, speckled look. Quartz aggregates are a popular alternative for countertops. Floor tile has been growing in size, with large rectangular tiles (and fewer grout lines) leading the trends. Keeping hardwood flooring flowing throughout the kitchen and living spaces is also very popular.

The trendiest kitchens have a large island that doubles as an eating space, combining cooking and eating/entertaining in one feature. Open shelving has seen a resurgence in interest, but it can be a polarizing feature that some love and some don't.

Brown points out that modern backsplash finishes are important, and he has seen a trend toward the "subway tile patterns that were popular in the 20s and 30s." Pullout shelves and self-closing doors in the kitchen are also a plus.

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4. Plenty of Storage

Along with an open floor plan comes a need for ample storage to keep those open spaces clutter free. New homebuyers are looking for pantries, linen closets, and storage areas such as a separate laundry room, mudroom, and cabinetry in the garage to help them stay organized and to keep the clutter out of sight. In fact, the most recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that 92% of buyers want a laundry room, making it the most desired feature of a new home.

5. Multi-Generational Living

Many new homebuyers appreciate the possibility to house an older parent or family member, if not full-time, at least part-time with comfortable guest quarters. A guest room on the ground floor with a full bathroom is one of the features that makes multigenerational living more comfortable for everyone.

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6. Multi-Functional Space

Something many new homebuyers are looking for is a "homework loft," "gaming loft," or some kind of multifunctional space within the home. This could be a desk located on a second floor loft outside the bedrooms, or an area off the living room or kitchen which can be used for various needs. "The loft and great room are mutually dependent in many ways," says Brown, because along with greater open space comes a need for a place for kids to hang out separately from adults.

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7. Indoor-Outdoor Living

Today's homebuyers are looking for ways to incorporate the outdoors into their daily lives. Millennials and younger buyers, in particular, are increasingly demanding a patio and multiple outdoor areas. Outdoor living space also increases the functional square footage of a home. Having an outdoor kitchen and entertaining space can be very attractive to new homebuyers. Sliding doors or French doors leading to a large patio that encourages flow between indoors and outdoors are often coveted features.

The "California room" or "outdoor living room" is an increasingly popular concept, according to Brown. A California room is a space that seamlessly blends indoor and outdoor living, usually comprised of a covered patio or sunroom, comfortable furnishings, and easy access to both inside and outside.

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