Pandemic Prompts Bigger Wish-Lists in Kitchens, Outdoor Spaces

Real estate pros reveal what housing amenities rank highest among their home shoppers.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people use their homes. It’s leading to several homeowners taking on renovation projects so they can better enjoy their spaces, whether inside or out.

HomeLight, a real estate referral company, surveyed more than 1,000 real estate professionals nationwide in the fourth quarter of 2020 to find out what housing qualities are the highest in demand among their home shoppers. Among their findings:

Outdoor spaces take center stage.

The desire for more outdoor space is a motivator to move for home buyers, according to the survey. The number-one outdoor upgrade home buyers want to see in 2021 is a firepit, according to 54% of agents surveyed by HomeLight. Firepits are the most popular in the Northeast and Midwest. However, in the South Atlantic region, agents say that a screened-in space is more desirable than a firepit.

Other items high on a growing number of buyer wish-lists for the outdoors, according to agents, are privacy via hedges or a fence; a full outdoor kitchen that includes a grill, sink, fridge, and bar; and a sunshade, such as from a canopy or retractable awning.

Spicing up the kitchen.

A kitchen island, walk-in pantries, and more drawer and cabinet storage are the top three kitchen upgrades that buyers seek in 2021, according to real estate agents surveyed. Also, a “pretty backsplash” and smart appliances ranked high.

“This indicates extra counter space to chop and prep food, storage for stocking up on groceries, and lots of spots to tuck away the ever-increasing amount of kitchen gadgets are the priorities home buyers have in mind when they evaluate how much they love a kitchen,” the report notes.

The design styles in the kitchen may vary regionally. For example, real estate pros in the Pacific, South Central, and South Atlantic regions of the U.S. were the most likely to say that their buyers prefer to see a farmhouse or apron-front kitchen sink. Real estate pros in the Pacific, Northeast, and Midwest regions were more likely to say that their buyers favor smart appliances.

Expanding bathroom amenities.

The double-sink in the owner’s suite is the number-one desired bathroom upgrade in 2021 that home buyers want, according to agents surveyed. Buyers also are showing more appreciation for bathrooms with upscale shower heads—such as a rain showerhead or dual shower head—as well as greater storage, such as a linen closet with shelves. In the Midwest and Northeast, heated floors have become a bigger draw. In the Pacific, Mountain, and South Atlantic regions of the U.S., artisan tile work is a top desire of home buyers, agents report.

Source: “Top Agent Insights Q4 2020 Report,” HomeLight (2021)