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Published: 12/10/2004

Realtors' Knowledge Helps Buyers Find Thier Dream Home

A two-car garage...maybe a finished basement...how about a front porch? When it comes to searching for a new home, consumers usually have a checklist of desired home features. But how do they balance what they need and want in a new home with what they can afford? And how do they know which features are worth the extra cost?

The results of a new survey by the National Association of REALTORS reinforce the importance of working with a REALTOR when shopping around for that dream home. The 2004 National Association of REALTORS Profile of Buyer's Home Feature Preferences is the most comprehensive look at buyer preferences ever produced and ranks findings in a variety of ways including buyer age, first-time and repeat buyers, regions of the country and locale.

According to the NAR survey, home characteristic preferences reflect the buyers' lifestyle. That means the home hunters' checklist usually goes beyond the physical features of the home to neighborhood characteristics and other considerations.

For example, the NAR survey shows that most buyers choose homes located in suburbs or subdivisions. Homes purchased by first-time buyers are more likely to be older and located in a central city, while repeat buyers are more likely to select a new home. Younger buyers care more about closeness to schools, parks and playgrounds, while older buyers are more inclined to purchase in a small town.

In terms of a home's physical characteristics, older buyers are more interested in a bedroom on the main level and prefer single-story homes. The survey also reflects strong regional differences. Not surprisingly, nearly 90 percent of buyers in the South rate central air conditioning as a very important feature, compared to only 37 percent in the Northeast. Buyers in the West are more likely to desire a patio or fencing, while buyers in the Northeast and Midwest are more interested in a finished basement.

The 2004 National Association of REALTORS Profile of Buyer's Home Feature Preferences shows us that buyers are willing to pay extra for some desired features. But because the sky's not the limit for many when it comes to purchasing a new home, consumers benefit from the guidance of a REALTOR who's knowledgeable, understands the obstacles buyers face when choosing a home and can match personal preferences and means with homes that are available on the market.

The survey shows that among buyers who purchased a home without a desired feature, many would have paid more for a home with that feature. For example, 66 percent would have paid a median of $825 extra for a home with a walk-in closet in the master bedroom.

Since the characteristics and features of homes vary as much as the people who buy them, the knowledge and skills a real estate professional brings to the table are critical in making a wise investment. A REALTOR can help buyers make choices that balance affordability with those "wish list" items that fulfill the homeowner's dreams.

Other interesting NAR survey findings include:

* Nearly three-quarters of recent home buyers say that central air conditioning tops the list of most desirable features they want in a home.

* 70 percent of respondents named garages, living rooms, extra bathrooms and laundry rooms as the most desired rooms or spaces.

* Half of the respondents named a walk-in closet in the master bedroom as a preferred feature.

* 42 percent preferred a bedroom on the main level.

* 41 percent wanted a patio, while the same number preferred an oversized garage.

* 40 percent wanted a cable or satellite TV-ready home.

* 37 percent wanted fencing.

* 36 percent desired a separate shower in the master bath.

* 34 percent preferred a porch.

* 32 percent wanted an eat-in kitchen.

The survey results are also helpful to homeowners who are thinking of renovating their homes in anticipation of selling. Knowing what buyers look for in a home can help guide those remodeling decisions.

The 2004 National Association of REALTORS Profile of Buyer's Home Feature Preferences was based on a six-page questionnaire mailed to a national sample of 25,000 recent homebuyers who purchased their homes between mid-2003 and mid-2004.



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