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What Buyers Are Looking For in a Home

Apart from a gorgeous place on a great street, that is. Here’s what’s getting the attention from potential buyers these days.

Energy efficiency features
With fossil fuel prices headed skyward, buyers now want homes that will save them money on energy bills every day. An Oraclepoll Research survey of Ontarians in January 2006 found that energy efficiency was the most important feature to home buyers after price and location. Think beyond programmable thermostats and Energy Star appliances: buyers are getting excited about unsexy features like heat recovery ventilators, ground source heat pumps, tankless water heaters, solar panels, and low-emissivity, argon-filled windows.

Luxurious Bathrooms
Coveted bathroom features include: whirlpool tubs, separate shower enclosures, multiple showerheads, generous linen closets, dressing areas, and double sinks. Buyers also expect multiple bathrooms, and Jack-and-Jill bathrooms are popular with families.

Built-in closet organization systems
Whether your closets are massive or minute, make the most of them with built-in organization systems. Several companies offer many different closet systems, allowing you to customize your closets. For maximum return on investment, plan flexibility into the design. Buyers will want to configure their own storage areas.

Specialty rooms
The living room is practically passé, but mention a well-outfitted media room/home theatre and buyers’ wallets start to pop open. Exercise rooms are also a trendy feature. And in certain neighbourhoods, a dedicated yoga/meditation space could seal the deal.

Environmentally friendly finishes and materials
Hardwood floors are perennially popular, but some buyers prefer eco-friendly alternatives to traditional hardwoods. Bamboo is one of the trendiest new flooring options, because it’s considered a renewable and sustainable resource. Cork and natural linoleum are also appealing, and heritage hardwood reclaimed from old buildings offers both patina and eco-panache.

Likewise, concerns about both health and the environment are leading lots of buyers to look for homes decorated with natural, environmentally responsible materials and finishes. Paints that are low in VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are a healthier alternative to conventional paints, which release toxic emissions for years. Window coverings made of cotton, hemp, linen, wood or other natural materials are preferable to petrochemical products. Avoid installing anything made of particleboard.

Wired home
Each year there are more techno-gadgets and appliances we just can’t live without. Buyers expect a house to have plenty of well-located phone jacks, electrical outlets, and cable/internet connections. We want flexibility and portability, so a house that’s wired for maximum connectivity is a hot property.

Luxe touches
Glass tiles, upgraded cabinet hardware, solid-surface kitchen and bathroom countertops, classy lighting, and upgraded fixtures will make buyers look twice. Luxurious materials and fittings need not break the bank: shop carefully and install them where they’ll have the most impact.

Spacious, stylish utility rooms
Having a beautifully organized and attractively decorated laundry centre—preferably not in the basement—is becoming more and more common. Laundry centres lend themselves to multiple purposes, serving as mud rooms, craft/sewing areas, and/or gift wrapping stations. A flexible, cleverly outfitted laundry centre can be a real selling point. Bright, oversized garages and well-designed walk-in pantries are also in great demand.

High-end finishes for appliances
While white is still the most common appliance colour, stainless steel appliances are very popular. Stainless steel works with a variety of décor styles and wood finishes, and fingerprint-proof finishes impress buyers. Manufacturers are introducing other high-end finishes for appliances: brushed aluminium, oiled bronze, and gold and silver metallic’s that suggest sleek automotive finishes.

Pre-listing home inspection
Arranging for a home inspection prior to listing makes your home more appealing in several ways. You can show buyers you’ve addressed any defects the inspector found, and add weight to your disclosure statement. A pre-listing inspection suggests you have little to hide, alleviating buyers’ concerns and suspicions. It may even encourage them to waive the inspection condition in an offer. Finally, it should help you price your home more realistically, which always attracts buyers.

BY HGTV.CA EDITORIAL TEAM