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2007-08-07 14:04:00

Despite Rising Gas Prices, Home Buyers Want Oversized Garages

Washington, DC -- Home buyers in increasing numbers want garages with two or more spaces in their homes, according to the 2007 Profile of Buyers’ Home Feature Preferences, released by the National Association of REALTORS®.

Since the last survey in 2004, oversize garages saw the biggest growth in terms of what recent buyers considered very important in a home, gaining 16 percentage points to 57%. Among buyers who purchased homes without this feature, 56% of them said they would have paid more for an oversize garage, compared to only 6% in the 2004 survey.

Other priorities for today’s home buyers include air conditioning, with three out of every four respondents ranking this as “very important,” and a walk-in closet in the master bedroom, which was very important to 53% of respondents. Hardwood floors and granite countertops each gained 7 percentage points from the 2004 survey, with 28% and 23%, respectively, of buyers viewing these features as “very important.” Gaining 6 percentage points was cable/satellite TV-ready, at 46%.

The survey reports responses from buyers who purchased homes in 2006. Home buyers were asked about 75 features and room types to assess the importance of each.

“REALTORS® see hundreds, if not thousands, of houses with their buyer clients every year and know exactly what buyers are looking for in a home,” said NAR President Pat V. Combs, of Grand Rapids, MI., and vice president of Coldwell Banker-AJS-Schmidt. “This insight is one more way REALTORS® add value to the real estate transaction and why nearly eight out of 10 recent buyers used a real estate professional when buying their home.”

According to the survey, nearly six out of 10 recent home buyers took on remodeling or home improvement projects within three months of their purchase. Close to half of home buyers who remodeled or made improvements updated their kitchen, and nearly half remodeled or improved their bathroom. New homeowners spent a median of $4,350 on home improvement or remodeling projects undertaken within three months of purchase.

More than half of home buyers believe their home has high investment potential, and another four out of 10 believe it has moderate investment potential. Only 3 percent felt their home’s investment potential was low.

“The fact that a majority of home buyers quickly remodel key areas of their homes ties into the fact that their home is a good, long-term investment,” said Paul Bishop, NAR manager of real estate research. “Regardless of market conditions in the short term, when purchased for the long term, housing is one of the safest investments consumers can make.”

Energy efficiency was more important to new-home buyers than buyers of existing homes, with 65 percent of new-home buyers saying it was very important compared to 39 percent for buyers of existing homes. Older buyers placed a higher priority on energy efficiency than did younger buyers – 63% of buyers 75 and older said it was very important, but only 32% of buyers who were 18-24 agreed.

Buyers Show Regional Preferences in Home Features

The survey identified some regional preferences in home features. For home buyers in the South and Midwest, central air conditioning was a priority, with 91% and 81%, respectively, saying this feature was very important. Sixty-six percent of buyers in the South thought a walk-in closet in the master bedroom was very important, while 61% of Midwesterners valued an oversized garage. In the Northeast, the highest percentage of buyers placed a premium on a backyard or play area (53%), followed by central air conditioning at 41%. Two-thirds of buyers in the West want oversized garages (66%), followed by central air conditioning at 59%.

Age was the biggest differentiation in what buyers were looking for in a home. Buyers 75 years old and older wanted a single-level home (74%) that was less than 10 years old (43%) with a walk-in closet in the master bedroom (74%). Most buyers between the ages of 25-34 wanted a backyard or play area (60% ). More than half of buyers over 65 wanted a separate shower enclosure in the master bathroom, compared to only one-fourth of buyers ages 25-34.

For those who purchased a home without it, 65% of buyers said they would be willing to pay a median $1,880 extra for central air conditioning. One out of four buyers was willing to pay a median of $4,760 more for waterfront property.

Homes are getting bigger, but have fewer bedrooms. From 2004 to 2006, the size of the typical home purchased increased by about 100 square feet to 1,840 square feet, while the median number of bedrooms dropped from four to three during the same period. The median home age reported in the current survey is 12 years, down from 15 years in 2004. 

To order a copy of the report, visit www.realtor.org/research and click on “Latest Research Products” or call 800/874-6500. The cost is $50 for members and $125 for non-members.

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