What Are Buyers Looking For In A Home?

This isn’t a trick question, but, for a seller, understanding what the buyers are looking for in a home may determine how well the seller does in the sale of his/her home. Most sellers want to maximize the return on their sale and, to do this, they should consider the condition of the most important room of their home: the kitchen.

Through the years, I have found that an outdated kitchen may be the “Achilles Heel” of a sale in which a property draws little interest and eventually sells for less than what the seller was hoping for. Are the kitchen counter tops ceramic tile from the 1980’s or earlier? Do the cabinet facings look old and dated? What about the appliances? Are they also older and white in color? Is there track lighting hanging from the ceiling?

The buyers who are willing to pay top dollar for a home will think such a kitchen reminds them of their parents’ home growing up. Not good if you want top dollar for your home.

Instead, the kitchen should be the “nerve center” for why a seller may get multiple offers and select the best offer over his/her asking price. No, there is no need to create a “Julia Child” professional chef kitchen. Instead, a cosmetic makeover could include new quartz counter tops, new cabinet facings, an under-counter-mounted single basin stainless steel sink with a
new matching faucet, new name-brand stainless steel appliances and recessed LED ceiling lighting fixtures.

When buyers are walking through a home, they are looking for reasons NOT to buy that home. They may not verbalize this to their real estate agent, but, believe me, when they are heading home, they are discussing how much additional money they will need to make the home the way they want it. For an outdated kitchen, the buyer will think it will cost at least $100,000 to $150,000 to update it. For a cosmetic kitchen update as I have described above, it could possibly be half that amount depending on the size of the kitchen.

Is it worth it to transform an old, dated kitchen into something special that buyers are looking for? It depends on how long you want your home to be on the market and what you are willing to sell it for. Properties in demand typically get multiple offers within ten to 14 days if they show well and are priced right.


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Published by Michael Thompson

I am a seasoned residential real estate professional with over 36 years of expertise in the Oakland Hills real estate market. Over the past three-plus decades, Michael has helped hundreds of buyers and sellers successfully buy and sell their homes. Many of these same clients (and now their kids!) have come back to Michael to help them with additional home purchases. With his extensive real estate background, Michael offers his clients a level of knowledge, experience and insight that gives them a competitive advantage in buying their next home or selling their present one. With a passion for sailing on San Francisco Bay, Michael and his wife Julie Ann Poppi currently are in the process of finishing the restoration of their 1981 Islander 36 sailboat.

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