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Features That Sell

According to the National Association of REALTORSĀ® latest profile of home buyers and sellers, buyers plan to occupy their homes for the next 10 years. They want homes that offer the room, flexibility and comfort they anticipate they will need for a long time. Over three out of four buyers chose a detached home, while attached homes - condos and town homes - were favored by single homebuyers and buyers without children.

Buyers Today

The median-sized existing home purchased in 2010 was built in 1990, with 1,780 square feet, three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Size mattered most, while the home's condition came in a close second. Buyers in multiple surveys expressed concerns over operating costs. They want energy-efficient appliances, windows, water and operating systems. They're also carefully considered commuting costs to jobs, schools and other destinations. Overall, they're buying smaller homes closer to the inner city.

A study by The National Association of Home Builders found that buyers are interested in saving on square footage, but they want a gracious, but casual ambiance. lfs likely that new homes by 2015 will reflect buyers' preferences for maximizing square footage with smaller entries, dining rooms and living rooms, and awarding that square footage to a greater-sized family room and eat-in kitchen.

Must Have Features:

  • A walk-in closet in the master bedroom
  • Separate tub and shower in the master bath
  • A separate laundry room
  • Ceiling fans
  • First-floor master
  • Two-car garage
  • Insulated front door
  • 9-foot ceilings on first level

Buyers want homes that are sustainable and affordable, more than homes that are impressive to others. For that reason, builders predict that homes of the future will continue to be smaller and more energyefficient,with far better space-planning, storage and utility than existing homes have today.

First Impressions

Most buyers form their first impression of your home before they even get out of their cars. This is "curb appeal," or the view from the curb that tells the buyer how attractive and well-maintained your home is compared to other homes. In a competitive market, it takes more than trimming the hedges and planting a few flowers to create curb appeal.

The exterior of your home must be in pristine condition - freshly painted, cleared of clutter, with no visible repairs needed. A broken step, overgrown bush, or abandoned toys in the yard can spoil the appearance and your buyer's first impression.

Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is important because it sets the tone for what the buyer is going to see inside. If the buyer likes the exterior, he or she will be predisposed to also like the interior and you're that much closer to selling your home. To see what needs to be done to sell your home faster and for a higher price, go outside, stand on the curb and try to look at your home the way the buyer will.

Walkways/driveways - Make sure walkways are clear of snow, weeds. or debris. Repair or replace cracked steps or pavers. Driveways should also be clear of vehicles, toys and debris. Park cars in the garage.

Landscaping - Keep your lawn mowed, edged and watered. Prune dead branches and plants. Weed flower beds and replace leggy, thin landscaping with fresh plants and flowers.

Exterior - Replace loose or damaged roof shingles, clean the gutters, and paint and caulk window trim and doors. Repaint the front door an eye-catching color that complements the rest of the exterior. Replace broken windows.

Entry - Power wash siding, brick, windows, and porches. Paint or replace furniture such as rocking chairs or porch swings. Replace mailboxes, light fixtures, door knobs or any other fixture that looks less than fresh. Put out a welcoming new floormat.

Some parts of your home may require more work than others. but it's well worth it to get buyers eager to see what's inside.

The Value Of Your Home

In a neighborhood of similar homes, why is one worth more than another? That's the question that's teased buyers and sellers for ages, but the answer is simple.

Every home is different.

When a home is sold, a willing seller and a willing buyer have just announced to the world the value of that home. From there, other similar homes are benchmarked, but other factors come into play. The most important are:

Location - The closer a home is to jobs, parks, transportation, schools, and community services. the more desirable it is.

Size - Square footage impacts home values because they're built using more materials. Larger lot sizes mean more privacy.

Number of bedrooms and baths - Over time, median homes have grown larger. Decades ago, household members shared bedrooms and baths without complaint, but today, families want more privacy. The median home purchased today is a three-bedroom, two-bath home.

Features and finishes - Features such as outdoor kitchens and spa baths make a home more luxurious. A home finished with hardwood floors and granite countertops is going to cost more than a home with carpet and laminate countertops.

Condition - The closer a home is to new construction, the more it will retain its value. It's perceived as more modem, up to date, and perhaps safer. Homes that are not updated or in poor repair sell for less. It's a good idea for homeowners to keep their homes updated and in top repair.

Curb appeal - From the street, the home looks clean, fresh, and inviting. Fresh landscaping and flowers won't change the size or location, but they certainly add charm.

When two homes are identical in the same neighborhood, a higher price may come down to something as simple as views, or paint colors. or the overall taste of the homeowner.

Valuing a home will never be an exact science, but if you buy wisely, keep your home updated and in good repair, you should recoup most if not all of your investment.