2021 was our second year of historically low mortgage rates set by the Federal Reserve and an unprecedented housing shortage. The housing shortage was due largely to the ongoing pandemic, which has resulted in supply chain issues and labor shortages. Together, low mortgage interest rates and a limited supply of available houses created countless bidding wars. This sent home prices soaring and left potential buyers in the dust. While this seller’s market will remain hot well into 2022, potential buyers might have an easier time finding their dream home this year. Referencing NAR’s quarterly home price report in an article for CNN Business from November, Anna Bahney elaborates. She notes that “the stratospheric surges in prices have slowed a bit from earlier this year.” Quoting NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun, Bahney writes that “‘home prices are continuing to move upward.'” However, “‘the rate at which they ascended slowed in the third quarter’” of 2021. Yun believes that rising interest rates and growing housing inventory “‘should markedly reduce the speed of price increases’” in 2022, boosting housing affordability. Of course, no one knows exactly how the residential real estate market will react to these changes. However, economists, realtors and other industry experts expect buyers to have a little more leverage this year than last year. In this post, we take a look at the top features home buyers want in 2022. From dedicated spaces like home offices to accessibility features like first floor primary suites, buyer preferences have shifted somewhat over the last year. If you plan to sell in 2022, follow below for a list of ten home buyer must-haves that could make your listing more competitive.
Ten Features Home Buyers Want Most in 2022
#1 Dedicated Spaces Like Home Offices, Gyms and Meditation Rooms
As one might imagine, home features today’s buyers want include dedicated spaces from which they can work, exercise, meditate, craft and study without interruption. According to a recent National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) survey, an overwhelming 60% of buyers deem home offices either “essential” or “desirable.” 70% of those who say having an office in their new home is essential want that space to be “100 square feet or larger.” Writing for Rocket Homes in his October 2021 article “The Popularity Of The Home Office In Real Estate,” Andrew Dehan adds to this. Dehan writes that searches for home offices have skyrocketed over the last two years. Reviewing data from March – July 2020 and March – July 2019, Dehan discovered a 16.8% increase in searches for residential listings containing the word “office.”
In her October 2021 article “Homebuyers Are Baffling Real Estate Agents With High-Tech Home Office Wishlists” for Money, Aly J. Yale elaborates. She notes that this growing interest translates into more money for sellers and less time spent on the real estate market. Yale writes that prospective buyers “are willing to pay a premium” for houses with home offices. This is especially true for Millennial and Gen Z buyers. According to Yale, homes with offices not only “sell for about 3.4% more than homes without.” They also sell nine days faster on average. Quoting NYC-based Compass real estate agent Phillip Salem, Yale expands on this point. Salem tells Yale that the home office is “‘no longer just a nice-to-have…the home office is now a must-have.’” In addition to dedicated office spaces, buyers are also looking for homes with gyms and hobby rooms. Meditation spaces where buyers can retreat from stresses of the day are popular, as are craft rooms and home theaters.
#2 Energy Efficient Appliances and All-Electric Systems
Next on our list of features that sell a house in 2022 are energy efficient elements that reduce one’s carbon footprint and energy bill. As young buyers like Gen Z-ers and Millennials populate the market, concern about climate change is driving buyers to choose more eco-friendly options. In her article “Experts Predict What The Housing Market Will Look Like In 2022” for Forbes, Brenda Richardson explains. Richardson writes that climate change is becoming “a major factor in home-buying decisions,” especially among young buyers. This is because “natural disasters and extreme weather events continue to increase in frequency.”
Barbara Ballinger supports Richardson’s claims in her article “13 Home Trends Stealing the Spotlight in 2022” for the National Association of Realtors. Ballinger notes that “more homeowners understand the importance of ‘decarbonizing’ everything from products to transportation, and especially their homes.” As such, prospective home buyers are looking for homes equipped with electric induction cooktops as well as geothermal heating and efficient HVAC systems. If your home is not energy efficient, head over to our post “10 Ways to Make Your Fixer-Upper More Energy Efficient.”
89% of Buyers Want Energy Efficient Elements in Their New Homes
Referencing the NAHB’s March 2021 survey in an article for NextAdvisor, Kendall Little details how pervasive the desire for energy-efficient elements is amongst buyers. Unsurprisingly, most buyers rank energy efficiency high on their list of must-haves, citing reduced utility bills and greater environmental responsibility. According to the NAHB, 89% of those surveyed “ranked Energy Star windows as either ‘essential’ or ‘desirable.'” Similarly, “86% said the same about Energy Star appliances.” 81% of those surveyed “said it was essential or desirable for their entire home to be energy efficient.” Thankfully, there are a number of ways to make your home more efficient without spending tons of time or money. We discuss ways to create an energy efficient home in our upcoming post “How to Make Your Fixer-Upper More Energy-Efficient.”
#3 Semi-Open Floor Plans
Third on our list of must-have features for home buyers in 2022 is a semi open floor plan. Quoting real estate broker Lori Hoffman in her article “13 Home Trends Stealing the Spotlight” for the National Association of Realtors, Barbara Ballinger explains. According to Hoffman, most home buyers “still want an open concept plan” in 2022. Hoffman tells Ballinger that “‘a choppy plan with rooms broken up takes longer to sell’” – even to buyers who want some private spaces. While Hoffman notes that buyers need the kitchen to “‘open to some sort of family room…the dining room can be its own room.’”
How closed off the kitchen is might not matter as long as there is at least a partial sight line from the family room. Real estate agents report that most buyers today “‘no longer need rooms in a row and prefer some separation.’” With children attending school from home and their parents working remotely, some separation is actually desired by those buying a house in today’s market.
#4 Expansive Outdoor Spaces with Architectural Elements like Porches and Decks
Fourth on our list of features homebuyers are looking for in 2022 is an outdoor living space with a porch, deck or pergola. Rather than focusing on a home’s curb appeal or well manicured lawn, buyers are looking for functional outdoor spaces. Quoting Andrina Valdes in her article “This Is What Home Buyers Want Most in 2022” for NextAdvisor, Kendall Little explains. Valdes notes that “‘the top features home buyers want in the age of coronavirus are a quiet property…followed by more outdoor space.’”
According to Liz Brumer in “5 Features Homebuyers Are Looking for” for Million Acres, “just over 80% of folks” want a deck or patio. Today’s buyers are more interested in patios than rear porches or decks, but “75% would still be happy with a rear porch or deck.” Features that make outdoor spaces more functional for year-round entertaining are also desired. These include elements like a kitchen, outdoor fireplace, pizza oven, built-in grill, vegetable garden and others.
#5 Reliable High-Speed Internet
The fifth item on our list of features home buyers are looking for in 2022 probably will not come as a surprise. As of October 2021, 45% of Americans were still working from home part-time while one quarter was working remotely full-time. Remote work has opened up a whole slew of new opportunities for Americans. With the ability to work pretty much anywhere, many have relocated from high-octane metropolises to smaller cities, suburbs and even rural areas. Of course, working remotely from your rural homestead, coastal vacation home or house in the suburbs is only possible with high speed internet. Unfortunately, too many first time home buyers have entered escrow without checking the signal or running a speed test. In 2022, this year’s buyers have learned from the mistakes of last year’s buyers and are prioritizing high speed internet when house hunting.
In her October 2021 article “Homebuyers Are Baffling Real Estate Agents With High-Tech Home Office Wishlists” for Money, Aly J. Yale elaborates. Yale writes that many buyers are explicitly asking sellers about internet infrastructure before moving forward. Redfin real estate agent Trenton Hogg tells Yale that he has “‘never had so many people ask [him] to get download and upload speeds.’” Not only do buyers want to run speed tests on each home’s internet. They also “want details on internet providers, fiber connections and cell phone carriers.” Some buyers are even asking sellers if Wi-Fi extends to outdoor spaces.
How Home Buyers Can Confirm Internet Reliability Before Putting in an Offer
As Trenton Hogg notes, buyers are asking for “‘really technical” details about each home’s internet infrastructure. Like many other listing agents, “those aren’t things [Hogg] just has on hand.’” Even if the listing agent cannot provide this information, buyers can figure it out for themselves. Writing for The Washington Post in her article “How to check Internet reliability before moving in,” Michele Lerner explains. Interviewing WiredScore CEO and founder Arie Barendrecht, Lerner provides a list of ways home buyers can confirm internet speed, reliability and capacity. For detailed information about internet options in your area, Barendrecht recommends home buyers reach out to “services such as BroadbandNow and DecisionData.” These companies “can let home buyers know what Internet service providers are available at their potential new home’s address.”
If possible, conduct a speed test near the router. Buyers who plan to work from home should have upload and download speeds between “0.5 Mbps to 1.8 Mbps for one-to-one video calling.” For group video calls, they should have speeds between “1 to 3 Mbps.” They should also check the internet’s latency, “which shows the time delay of a broadband connection” and is measured in milliseconds. Check the connection of your phone’s hotspot from different rooms of the house as well. If your hotspot offers a strong, fast connection, you might consider calling your provider to ask about “buying a dedicated mobile hotspot.”
#6 Suburban Neighborhoods
Seventh on our list of features home buyers are looking for in 2022 is safe, suburban neighborhoods. As mentioned above, prospective home buyers can now live practically anywhere that has high speed internet capable of supporting remote work. Suburban homes in particular are growing in popularity amongst prospective buyers. This is because of their large lots, green spaces, close-knit communities, lower asking prices and healthier air quality — amongst other benefits. In her article “5 Features Homebuyers Are Looking for in 2022” for Million Acres, Liz Brumer explain. She notes that buyers want suburban homes because they are often newer and less expensive than those in the city. According to Brumer, “60% of homebuyers are looking for new builds rather than an existing home.” Brumer links a growing desire for new builds to an increasing interest in the suburbs.
Referencing a recent report from the NAHB, Brumer writes that “there was a 4% increase in preference for moving to the suburbs.” With track home developments popping up all across the country, buyers are most likely to find brand-new homes in the suburbs. Interest in suburban homes has grown most significantly across minority groups. According to Brumer, “Asian populations saw a 9% increase in the desire for a suburban home since before the pandemic.”
#7 Utility Rooms Like Walk In Pantries and Laundry Rooms
Eighth on our list of features home buyers are looking for in 2022 is separate utility rooms. Buyers want utility spaces like walk-in pantries and laundry rooms, both of which offer lots of hidden storage space. More storage space is actually the final feature on our list of homebuyer must-haves. Referencing data from NAR’s Remodeling Impact Report in an article for NextAdvisor, Kendall Little explains. She writes that “a laundry room and exterior lighting are the two most wanted features in a home.” In fact, both were “rated essential or desirable by 87% of buyers.” As outlined below, most buyers prefer an easily accessible first floor laundry connected to a mudroom or garage.
In her article “8 Features Homebuyers Are Demanding in 2021” for Real Simple, Terri Williams explains why laundry rooms top buyer wishlists in 2022. Quoting Rose Quint, Williams writes that laundry rooms “‘allow homebuyers to keep all the messiness associated with doing laundry…behind a closed door.’” Quint notes that buyers might have been comfortable “doing laundry in their kitchen or another shared room” in the past. Now that they are working from home, buyers are “‘tired of looking at these piles of laundry’” and really want a dedicated space. For similar reasons – utility and hidden storage – walk in pantries are also important to buyers. According to the NAHB “What Home Buyers Really Want” report, 34% of buyers “must have” a walk in pantry in their next home. Another 47% find it desirable. In total, this amounts to 81% of buyers surveyed.
#8 Accessibility Features Like First Floor Bedrooms and Wider Hallways
More and more households are multigenerational, with parents, grandparents and young children all occupying the same single-family home. The US population is also aging. As such, a growing number of American seniors are choosing to age in place rather than entering a nursing or retirement home. Because of this, homebuyers have begun to place greater emphasis on accessibility features like first floor primary suites, curbless showers and entryways without steps. According to the NAHB, the top five most wanted accessibility features “are a full bath on the main level of the home, wider doorways (3’+), wider hallways (4’+), non-slip floor surfaces, and an entrance without steps.” These accessibility features have been deemed “essential or desirable to over 60% of buyers.”
#9 Fully Functional Kitchens
Ninth on our list of homebuyer must-haves is a fully functional, eat-in kitchen. In their August 2021 article “15 Home Features Today’s Buyers Want Most” for Kiplinger, Patricia Mertz Esswein and Andrea Browne Taylor elaborate. They write that 78% of buyers want eat-in kitchens because of the flexibility they offer. Eat-ins are especially desirable for second-time homeowners and for families with children. This is because eat-in kitchens provide “space not just for eating, but also for doing homework, crafting and more.” According to Tracy Kaler in her article for Mansion Global, high quality materials, efficient appliances and prep surfaces are also in high demand. 32% of buyers surveyed by the NAHB said a kitchen island was “essential” in their next home while 45% said it was desirable.
#10 More Storage Space
Last on our list of features future buyers want in 2022 is extra space for storage. From basements and built-ins to garages and attics, most buyers would like storage included in the square footage of their new homes. In her article “15 features house buyers want – how to sell a house fast” for Homes & Gardens, Thea Babington-Stitt explains. Babington-Stitt writes that “storage solutions are really having a moment.” As such, it should come as “no surprise that one of the most popular additions buyers are after is built in storage.” In addition to “clearing floor space, shelving and wardrobe units help to zone a home,” which is especially helpful in open concept living spaces. Garages and walk in closets are perhaps the most popular forms of storage in 2022. Writing for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Michaelle Bond supports this. She notes that “walk-in closets broke into the top three phrases in listings both nationally and in the Northeast” last year.