Are you selling a house? Here are the top 10 things homebuyers look for

A survey done for the Canadian Home Builders Association says that energy efficiency, open concept and functionality are the big selling trends.

CC, WDnet Studio

A market study by AVID Ratings Canada for the Canadian Home Builders' Association (CHBA) surveyed 12,000 homebuyers across Canada to see what Canadians are looking for when they go house shopping. We were pleased but not at all surprised by the results - here they are:

The top 10 assets that homebuyers value:

1. Walk-in closets
2. Energy-efficient appliances
3. General energy efficiency of the dwelling
4. Energy-efficient windows
5. Kitchen island
6. Large linen closets  
7. Open-concept kitchen
8. Large windows
9. Two-car garage 
10. Walk-in pantry
 

That walk-in closets rank first is no great surprise, they have long been a very popular feature and keeping a bedroom clutter-free makes for a more stress-free environment for sleeping.

We were very pleased to see that the 2nd, 3rd and 4th most popular features were energy related! Being in the business of promoting energy-efficient housing, we have watched this trend grow; seeing confirmation by a national survey of what we ourselves have sensed and witnessed is very encouraging.

Some homebuilders question the value of a more energy efficient design, often doubting they will get their money back for their efforts and added investment. This confirmation by the Canadian Home Builders Association should help convince builders that home-energy performance is a top priority to Canadian homebuyers.

Our recommendations for home renovations and upgrades prior to selling:

  • Energy- efficient appliances: Make informed choices based on the EnerGuide rating wherever possible; Look for ENERGY STAR certified appliances, and SmartSense appliances (low water consumption).
  • Improve the overall energy efficiency of the dwelling: No one wants to buy someone else's energy pig, so investing in durable energy-efficient upgrades is wise. Don't just start jamming insulation into every crack and corner for show, be sure it's done properly! Read about easy home fixes here.
  • Healthy kitchen upgrades: The small premium you would pay for choosing non-toxic and more durable building materials won't be very noticeable in the cost, but will be a strong incentive to buyers. Read more about kitchens here.
  • Insulating attics: An open attic is a great place to easily improve the performance of a home with additional insulation. Check to see how much insulation there is and that it is done properly. Read more about attics here.
  • Repairing or replacing windows: This is a tricky topic - you don't often get your money back out of a window replacement unless they were in very bad condition. Sometimes repair is a more sensible option, read more about windows here.
  • Garages: If your house has a garage, consider adding an electric vehicle (EV) charging terminal - I think most of us sense that we will be in an electric car someday, so a house that is already set up is a nice bonus. Electric cars are quickly increasing in popularity and the incentives offered make them more appealing all the time. Read about EV incentives here.

Conversely, this study also reveals the features in a home that potential buyers are less inclined to look at favourably:

1. Open garage or carport
2. Laminated countertops
3. Swimming pool
4. Vinyl siding
5. Homes with a workshop
6. Game room or hobby room
7. Whirlpool bathtub
8. Exterior stucco siding
9. Outdoor hot tub
10. Outdoor fireplace
 

Make what you will of this list - we wouldn't recommend rushing to remove all the above, but at the same time it's good information to have in case installing any of these was on your to do list. 

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