9 important features to consider when buying a house

brown and black wooden house

Buying a new home? Here’s what you’ll want to pay attention to

One of the essential steps to buying a home is deciding which features of your future home are most important to you and your family. 

Knowing what you’re looking for will prevent wasting time looking at homes that aren’t a good fit. Plus, you’ll be less likely to regret your purchase if you clearly know your needs and wants from the beginning. 

A home rarely has everything you want unless you’re building new construction from scratch, so a bit of flexibility goes a long way. The way to make sure you’re as happy as possible with your purchase is to know right away which features are “must-haves” and which are “nice-to-haves.”

But how do you make such a big decision? We’ve got you. Here is your guide for deciding which features are most important to you, so you house hunt with confidence. 

Remember that the right home might not have every feature you want, so consider which elements are “must-haves” and which are “nice to haves.” 

To ensure you consider all your options, we created this list of nine features every buyer should consider when buying a home. 

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Why make a list of important home features early?

We recommend you arrive to a home tour with an idea of what you’re looking for. Real estate agents get paid to sell homes, so you may find that what a seller is trying to highlight isn’t important to you. Go prepared. Go with a list. Here’s why: 

It helps with making a budget

If you know early that the features your family needs are the more expensive features of a home, you can prepare for that cost by including it in your budget. 

If you know, for example, that a large lot for your kids and dogs is non-negotiable, you’ll know to make room for that in your budget. But if all you need in a home is natural light, there’s a good chance you won’t necessarily have to pay a premium for it. We say it’s better to know what you’ll be paying for your must-haves up front instead of a few weeks into the process.

You’ll be less likely to regret your purchase 

Homebuying is competitive and may require you to move fast and make quick decisions. One thing you don’t want to be unsure about, though, is whether you like the home you’re making an offer on. 

Know what you’re looking for ahead of time so that when you have to get an offer in at the buzzer, you’re sure it’s the right home. 

Know what you want and save time

It’s recommended that you go on many home tours, even if you’re not yet ready to make an offer or even if you know the home is out of your budget or ideal neighborhood. That way, you’ll have a trained eye by the time you tour the home you intend to place an offer on. 

But, if you go to so many showings without having any idea what you’re looking for in a home, you may spend more time narrowing it down. You may find yourself overwhelmed by choices and spending extra weeks or months second-guessing yourself. 

Know what you want before you start touring so you can put in an offer the minute you find something you like. 

Here are the top 9 home features to look for when buying a house

Not sure what to consider when buying a new home? The listing price isn’t the only thing that matters. Here are nine home features that are important to most homebuyers. 

1. Location, location, location 

There’s a reason most real estate is all about location; you can change paint color, add a pool, or update old flooring. 

You can’t move your house. 

Make sure you know where you want your home to be before starting your search. Do you want to be in a specific school district? Near parks or nightlife? Do you prefer a rural setting or a more urban one? 

Work with your real estate agent to choose a few different neighborhoods before starting your search. 

2. Square footage 

How big do you want your home to be? It can be tempting to think bigger is always better, but higher square footage also comes with higher heating, cooling, and maintenance costs. 

According to Statista, the average size of a single-family home is around 2,261 square feet. But how big is a square foot, really? Depending on your family size and lifestyle, that might be too big—or too small. Here’s how to visualize square feet to make some predictions for your needs. 

Decide on a square footage range that fits your lifestyle both now and into the future. But, remember that layout can impact how well a home works. A smaller home that uses the space well might offer more usable space than a huge home that is poorly laid out. 

3. Yard and outdoor features 

How big of a yard do you want? Do you prefer privacy, or would you rather have a low-maintenance lawn? Do you want a huge garden or need space for a large dog? 

Now is also the time to think about outdoor features, like a pool or a fence. Keep in mind that outdoor living spaces like a patio, gazebo, or kitchen can increase a home’s cost. If price is also important, consider whether adding these features later is more economical. 

two women sitting on sofa
Do you plan to spend a lot of time in your yard? Make sure you have the lot space and the terrain to build your dream garden before you buy the house

4. Number of bedrooms and bathrooms 

While outdoor features can be added easily, increasing the number of bedrooms or bathrooms can be cost-prohibitive, so look for a home that already meets your needs. 

If you have kids, you’re likely looking for a bedroom for each child, but consider future needs as well. Will you need space for guests, an office, or a parent down the road? 

You’ll also want to pay attention to how the bedrooms are laid out. If you have small children, you may wish to have the bedrooms close together. A home with a first-floor bedroom may be vital if you plan to age in place or care for an older family member. 

For bathrooms, consider the number of bathrooms, their size, and their location. Two bathrooms might be enough for a smaller family, while larger families may prefer three or more. Make sure the home fits your needs if you want a tub versus a shower (or visa-versa!)

5. Flex space 

Flex space is becoming increasingly popular in homes, especially since the Pandemic has kept so many of us closer to home. 

Does the home you’re considering have space that could have multiple uses? For example, a finished basement that could serve as a teen study space, a guest room, or an in-law suite later? 

While flex space might not be necessary for all homebuyers, it can significantly affect your long-term comfort and resale value. 

6. Kitchen layout and features 

Kitchens sell houses. The proper kitchen with updated features can help sellers overlook other less-desirable features in a home. Consider how often you cook, the amount of kitchen storage you need, and whether the home has the features you need. 

For example, an avid baker might want double ovens, or you might prefer an open-concept kitchen so you can cook while entertaining guests. 

Other kitchen features to consider include: 

  • Dishwasher 
  • Garbage disposal 
  • Amount of storage
  • Pantry 
  • Type of cabinets 
  • Island 

If you plan to live with others, consider how the space will work with multiple people. For example, can you wash dishes while someone else is cooking? 

kitchen island and barstools
How important is cooking to you and your family? You may be willing to pay a premium for a professional-style kitchen, then. Know what you need in your cooking space before you tour

7. Age and style of the home 

The age and style of a home can impact everything from the overall look to features and finishes. Make sure the home you’re considering fits your preferred aesthetic, but remember that most finishes can be changed. 

In addition to looks, however, the age of a home can impact maintenance costs. Issues like knob-and-tube wiring or lead paint can make even minor repairs cost thousands. Newer homes are less likely to have those issues but may lack the character some buyers prefer. 

When considering the style and age of a home, keep the listing price in mind. A lower price may leave room for renovations. 

8. Garage  

For many home buyers, having a garage is non-negotiable. If you have a vehicle, having a place to store it away from the elements can improve safety and make it easier to drive in the winter. 

Garages also provide extra storage and can be turned into additional living space in some cases.

Having a garage also makes it easier to sell the home down the road, so consider whether a garage is a must-have feature when looking for a home. 

If you do want a garage, consider how large (or small) you’d prefer it to be. Consider a garage with attic space if you’re looking for additional storage. 

9. Ability to upgrade or build add-ons 

When buying a home, some buyers prefer move-in ready, while others want to add their own touch. If you fall in the latter camp, consider whether the home’s layout makes it easier to upgrade or build an add-on down the road. 

For example, you might be able to fix a cramped kitchen by closing in an adjacent sunroom. However, if the kitchen wall is just a few feet from your neighbor’s home, that won’t work. 

If you plan to make changes, look for a home that offers the flexibility and lot size to make the changes you envision. 

How to decide what you need in a home

The right home should work for your current lifestyle and the life you expect to live in the coming years. While no one knows what the future holds, consider your future needs to ensure you’ll love your home for years. 

Finally, remember that the right home might not have every feature you want. Rank features by order of importance and decide which ones are non-negotiable. For example, being in the right neighborhood might be important to your family, while an updated kitchen is just a nice-to-have feature. 

Ready to make your home-buying dreams come true? Here’s how Flyhomes can help. 

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