• What Buyers Look for in a Home

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    What buyers look for in a home

    How does your home stack up?

    By Bett McCarthy

    Price. Quality. Value. Open layout. Modern features. A location not far from water, bike trails or nature walks.

    On Cape Cod, buyers particularly are looking for a home location and amenities that will contribute to a high-quality lifestyle that revolves around the Cape’s natural beauty. Many owners in their 50s and 60s view their homes as a vacation destination for their extended family and friends, and as a future retirement spot.

    But, as across the nation, most buyers in 2011 are concerned about pricing, move-in condition and clean, neat, airy, flexible floor plans. Expect the same for 2012.

    That’s the opinion from a sampling of real estate agents, brokers and managers across the Cape’s 15 towns.

    A minimum of three bedrooms and two bathrooms is essential, and a traditional Cape Cod style house is preferred.

    “A colonial is the kiss of death down here,” says Brian Pothier, one of our top agents in Orleans. “It’s a big box that fits a lot of people. Most buyers aged 55 to 65 are past that.”

    Other key features to attract buyers are:

    Energy-efficient appliances, high-efficiency insulation, efficient windows

    Among the environmentally-friendly features offered in today’s homes, buyers most often choose the ones that actually save money on electricity, heating and cooling. The use of recycled or synthetic materials or other “green” features are in less demand, unless cost-savings can be demonstrated.

    Maintenance-free materials

    “Lifetime” 50-year roofing shingles, rot-proof exterior and high-performance insulated doors often are included to cut down on anticipated repairs, replacement and repainting by busy owners of either a primary or secondary home.

    Location

    Real estate agents say buyers seek a Cape Cod location that balances accessibility to recreation, but away from busy traffic. The house should have some privacy from other nearby properties, yet not be tucked away in the middle of nowhere.

    Kitchen with island

    As for the home’s specific features, probably the most critical is the kitchen. A large modern kitchen with a center island is seen as essential as a gathering point for family and friends. Granite counter, abundant lighting and upscale appliances are expected, especially by the move-up and custom-home buyer. That includes recessed lighting, hanging pendants, professional stoves and convection ovens, cabinets with glass door panels, built-in wine cooler, extra sink in the island and possibly an extra dishwasher. A mini office workspace often is requested

    Open floor plan, 8- to 10-foot ceilings

    Flexible, airy living space adjacent to the kitchen is much in demand, where family and friends can gather to sit, eat, watch entertainment or just talk. Wood floors are more desirable than wall-to-wall carpeting. A first-floor washer and a dryer also are desired for convenience. With people living more on the main level, demand for upstairs laundries is declining.

    Home office/study

    For people still employed, those running a home-based business and others, an office (and sometimes one for him and one for her) is crucial. People prefer this space rather than a dining room. Formal dinner parties are becoming a thing of the past.

    Main-floor master suite

    People looking ahead to their later years want a master suite on the first level to allow one-floor living. This is a must feature for empty-nesters, and it appears to be gaining popularity in general. His and hers double closets are often sought. A separate sitting area with TV or computer is often added.

    Master bath

    A large, walk-in shower with built-in seating is desired to accommodate people of all ages. A soaker tub is also popular, but a whirlpool Jacuzzi is less so.

    Fireplace

    A gas- or wood-burning fireplace is a popular addition as a home’s focal point, and it will help take the chill out of a cool spring or fall Cape Cod morning. A second fireplace is sometimes built in the master suite.

    Ceiling fans

    Ceiling fans also are a popular way to contribute to indoor comfort throughout the year.

    Natural exterior/landscaping

    Natural materials such as stone and plantings are increasingly sought after, to improve the attractiveness of the home’s exterior and the enjoyment of outdoor living. Selecting indigenous plants that use less water and fertilizer also is drawing more attention as a way to preserve the environment.

    Outdoor living

    Even with our northern winters, the popularity of outdoor space continues to grow, as another option for hosting family and friends. A room for outdoor relaxing is even more popular than an outdoor kitchen, according to some surveys. A stone fire pit is an increasingly popular outdoor addition.

    Two- or three-car garages

    A two-car garage is still a must for most buyers, and a third bay for storage is expected in many move-up and custom homes. Basement storage space seems to hold less attraction for home buyers these days.

    Overall, functionality and ease of living are among the most desirable aspects of a Cape Cod home.

    February 24, 2014