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Home Preferences Changing, Study Says

Home Preferences Changing, Study Says

SEATTLE — In a market where home values are at record highs, multi-functional homes with features that accommodate both work and play are fetching the highest prices of all, according to a new report by Zillow, the Seattle-based online real-estate database company.

According to Zillow’s newly released report, “Home Features That Sell,” listings mentioning remote work-
friendly features and amenities that make it easier to unwind and entertain at home “can sell for more than expected,” while features associated with energy efficiency and sustainability can help a home sell faster.

“Home buyers are investing in features that reflect the changes in their lives,” said Amanda Pendleton, home trends expert for Zillow. “While the world slowly exits the pandemic, this data provides some insight into the new normal. Our lives now revolve around where we live, as opposed to where we work. It’s a realignment with wide-ranging impacts, including these changing home preferences that put value on function over style.”

According to Zillow, the company analyzed nearly 230 features and design terms mentioned in listing descriptions for 3.1 million home sales in 2020 and 2021. The company found that the pandemic-led shift to remote and hybrid work “has put a premium on certain features that allow buyers to work from home.”

A strong internet connection has become essential as movers seek out relative affordability and more space farther away from city centers, while a “Zoom Room” or home office space can add 1.6% to a home’s sale price. 

Features that add functionality to the kitchen can also help homes achieve higher sale prices, Zillow noted. Steam ovens topped the list for a second consecutive year, “as the pandemic launched a new generation of home chefs,” Zillow said. Buyers also appear willing to pay more for other functional kitchen features that make cooking and cleanup faster and easier, such as new appliances and quartz countertops, the company said.

In addition, “retreat spaces at home,” once considered a luxury, are now wish-list items for pandemic-era home buyers at all price points, as is outdoor space with areas for lounging, dining and entertaining. Homes mentioning pizza ovens and outdoor kitchens can sell for 2.3% and 2.2% more, respectively.   

Eco-friendly features associated with energy efficiency contributed to homes selling faster than expected, Zillow also noted. For example, homes with an EV charging station can sell 10 days faster than similar homes, while boasting energy-efficient features such as double-pane windows, programmable thermostats, and smart sprinkler systems can sell between five and seven days faster than expected.

While vacation homes are increasingly popular, “buyers nationwide appear willing to pay more for homes that feel like a getaway, even if they’re hundreds of miles from the beach,” Zillow said. ▪

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