Many first-time homebuyers have only a broad list of needs and wants in mind when they tell a real estate agent what they're looking for in a home. They aren't fully aware of all the features and amenity options that are out there.
More than half of all homebuyers told the National Association of Realtors that they hired an agent to choose a home because they wanted help in finding the right one. One of the really great things about giving your agent a detailed list of the features you're looking for is that they can then use technology to find that perfect home for you.
The Importance of Location
The golden rule in real estate is location.
Choose the home with a good location if you have a choice between one with all the features you want in a bad location, or a home in a good location with only some of the amenities you're looking for.
You can always add amenities to a home in a good area. But you can't change a bad location. Narrow your list down to your top three to five neighborhoods. Talk to people who live there to find out if these places are indeed where you might want to live.
Let your agent know the ZIP codes you'd like. You can also define the area by street boundaries. This allows your agent can draw a map search.
Location types can include a view of coast, city or hills, waterfront, greenbelt, golf course, suburban, city, raised elevation or mountains, cul-de-sac, a dead-end street, or a gated community.
We all have some idea of what our perfect home would look like from the street. The exterior features are twofold. You have the home's construction on one end. These choices consist of adobe, brick, concrete block, log, metal, stone, straw, or wood.
You have the exterior material on the other end, such as brick, cement siding, lap siding, metal siding, vinyl siding, shingle, stone, stucco, veneer, or wood.
The Style of the Home
You have many choices here. An A-frame is a house style with a sloping roofline that resembles the letter A, thus the name. A bungalow is a single story, although some have a second story built into a sloping roof, often with dormer windows.
Colonial homes have two to three stories, fireplaces, and brick or wood facades. Floor plans have traditional layouts. Kitchens, dining rooms, and living rooms are on the first floor. Bedrooms are on the upper floors.
The design of contemporary-style homes grew out of the Industrial Revolution of the early 20th century. It includes cottages, domes, logs, Mediterranean style, ranches, Tudors, and Victorians.
You also have many options for roofing material. The most feasible choices include composition shingle, concrete tile, metal, rock, shake, slate, tar, tile, or wood.
Your yard allows for more customization than most other aspects of your home. You'll have to decide on the size and what type of landscaping you want. You can choose from many amenities and features from there, such as gardens, automatic sprinklers/drip/misting systems, swimming pool or sport pool, a deck, a courtyard, a patio (covered or uncovered), or an outdoor kitchen.
Decide on the Type of Home You Want
You should look at many types of homes before making a purchase. Your decision often depends on your family situation. You may need a single-family home (attached or detached), a duplex, halfplex, condo, townhome, or a manufactured home.
Think about a few other things after you decide on the type of home you're looking for, such as its age and the year it was built.
Decide on the number of bedrooms you want, the number of baths, the number of stories or levels you need, orientation (the direction in which home faces), utilities, the HVAC system (central heating and air conditioning, propane, gravity, floor, or wall), parking areas and a garage, and RV parking or boat storage.
A home doesn't stop at bedrooms, bathrooms, and a kitchen. Decide whether you would want to make plans for a loft, a den, a home office area, a home theater, a media room, a family room, a gym or workout room, a library, a butler's pantry, a sunroom, a basement, guest quarters, or wine storage.
Flooring often varies by room. Some of the most common options include carpeting, marble, wood, concrete, bamboo, stone, tile, laminate, cork, vinyl or linoleum, manufactured wood, and waterproof vinyl planks.
Home Amenities and Features
Homebuyers often desire certain features in their kitchens, master bedrooms, baths, and dining rooms. A growing number of buyers prefer to have home energy features, including accessibility options. Some of these can be added later as a home improvement project, but the cost to do so can be extreme.
This area might include built-in or freestanding appliances of stainless steel, colored, or cabinetry match. Counters can be granite, marble, ceramic, stone, wood, laminate, or synthetic. The sink can be farm-style, dual, or triple sinks.
Give some thought to islands, wet bars and dining bars. Then there are under-cabinet lighting features, recessed lighting, pendants, warming drawers, wine refrigerators, and trash compactors.
The Dining Area
This area can include space in the kitchen, a breakfast nook, a dining/family room combination, a dining/living room combination, a formal dining room, or an outdoor kitchen.
The Master Suite
Some things you might want to think about when it comes to the master suite include size, whether it has a balcony, outside access, a private patio, or a remote area such as a sitting room or office. What's its floor level? Does it offer surround sound, a fireplace, a wet bar, or dual walk-in closets?
Think about the sink type in this area (dual or triple), as well as built-in dressing vanities, vanity shelves and mirrors in showers, jetted or sunken tubs, a separate shower, rainshower heads, stone or tile surfaces, outside access, skylights, and heated floors.
You have many options here, including attic fans, ceiling fans, dual or triple pane windows, programmable thermostats, single flush toilets, window shutters, solar heat, solar plumbing, solar screens, storm windows, a tankless water heater, skylights or sky tubes, or a whole house fan.
Accessibility features include extra-wide doorways, ramps, grab bars, lower counter heights, and walk-in tubs and showers.
Using a List to See Properties
Most MLS systems used by real estate agents to find homes contain search parameters. Some will let you exclude certain types of factors. This can be helpful to you. Your agent can exclude all homes with carpeting from your search if you really, really don't want to buy a home with this feature. Maybe you'd like to install hardwood floors.
The more closely you define your parameters, the fewer homes you may find that are right for you. It's often best to be less precise if you don't feel really strongly about having or not having some features.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are house amenities?
An amenity is any addition to a home that's considered valuable to tenants or buyers. These can be public amenities, such as nearby highways, shopping centers, and public transit. They can also be private amenities that are specific to the property, such as major appliances, detailed finishes, and large yards. Amenities may be included in the initial construction of the home, or they may be added in subsequent renovations.
What amenities decrease the value of your house?
Homebuyers don't always agree on what makes an amenity valuable. Especially when it comes to public amenities, many potential homebuyers want to be close, but not too close. Living next door to a mall is convenient, but it could also be loud, and retail shoppers could take up your street parking spaces. The same goes for highways, which are convenient while you're driving, but noisy when you aren't.