Monday, July 16, 2012

What Do Buyers Want?

As you think about values for your home, note that typical Piedmont buyers want (in very rough order): --updated kitchen and baths. Buyers today are less imaginative than they were when so many friends were renovating, and the cost-vs-value ratio of a kitchen or bath investment has been declining these last few years (email me for a copy of that annual Cost vs. Value report for various upgrades). In fact they've heard way too much about cost overruns and cooking in the basement for three months. --a master bath. I usually estimate that a house will sell for $50-75,000 less if it has no master bath (older condition is not the issue; just having a master bath is the issue). --a family room. The expectation is that a family or TV room is different from a formal living room, and from a very casual rumpus space. Younger families want the family room close to the kitchen for homework supervision, etc.; older families want noisy teenagers as far from the kitchen as possible! --relatively few steps to the main level. Younger families will imagine babies on the hip and groceries in hand as they look at a long run of front stairs. (Sometimes we can emphasize level-in access from a detached garage to the kitchen, though). --a flat backyard. We may know that the school playground is closeby and so on, but buyers spending $1.x million want a flat grassy backyard, preferably with reasonable privacy (say if rear neighbors are looking over into the yard). --adequate storage. Often buyers will say they need a garage, but what they mean is they need a place for a kayak, or for graduate school book boxes, etc. Garages with dry storage of course count. --easy access to the yard from kitchen and/or family room. It's unusual to find a house with a convoluted path to the backyard, but buyers prefer to bring the pasta bowl directly from the kitchen to the backyard dinner table. --interior access from a garage space. Again, while most of us end up parking on the street and bringing groceries in, buyers think they want an off-street garage space (or two) and interior access up to the main level. There are ''toggle'' items--those where buyers say ''no way''--and there are gradient issues--those where buyers say, ''well, at the right price, we can live with that.'' It's good to consider whether your unique home has toggle issues or just the usual gradient issues--“at the right price, I could live without a family room, as long as there's a rumpus downstairs.”

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