The top features to increase your home value in 2022

person holding paint roller while painting the wall

The most important things you can do now to sell your home for more

When you’re getting your home ready to sell, it’s hard to know where to start. Knowing what increases value the most will give you direction and help your home sell for more.

Before you do anything, make sure you know what features buyers will pay extra for. Creating outdoor living spaces, making accommodations for multi-generational living, installing smart features, and tackling the home projects that you’ve been putting off all impact your home’s appeal to potential buyers. 

What you’ll learn 

The COVID pandemic has changed what features homebuyers will pay extra for. Things like outdoor living spaces and divided floor plans have seen a rise in popularity as people want to get the most out of their time at home.

  • What improvements have the best return on investment (ROI) 
  • The little (and inexpensive) things you can do on your own around the house 
  • What research to do on your specific market and what to ask your agent

Outdoor living spaces

The COVID pandemic forced, and is still causing, many to stay at home. Though most stay-at-home orders have expired, the time spent cooped up inside made the importance of outdoor living spaces clear. 

In the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey, 74% of firms surveyed reported an increase in people wanting outdoor living spaces, including outdoor “rooms” like a deck or patio. These spaces allow the family to spread out and take advantage of the outdoors, planning BBQs rather than going out to a crowded restaurant.

Designing outdoor spaces with infrared heaters and exterior lighting that helps transition interior spaces to exterior spaces will likely increase buyer interest in your home.

turned-on lights outside houses
Especially after the pandemic, buyers began to place a premium on homes that had outdoor living spaces and entertainment options

A divided floor plan

Over the last two years, many homebuyers have seen the need for a floor plan that’s more conducive to virtual learning and remote work, primarily. As a result, the open floor plan living trend that’s dominated home design is fading in favor of a divided floor plan featuring designated spaces.

Not only do people want to see space for a home office, but many homebuyers with children are looking for a space for school and playrooms that are separate from the main living space.

In 2016, the AIA reported that 53% of firms saw an increased demand for an open floor plan. In 2021, that number dropped to 33%, revealing the trend towards more defined spaces in a home.

A renovated kitchen and bathroom

The kitchen is a popular gathering space in the home—it’s where the food is, after all! And people want to spend this time in an updated space. In a report from the National Association of Realtors®, a complete kitchen renovation will yield a 59% ROI while a less costly kitchen upgrade will yield a 52% ROI.

Installing up-to-date countertops, new appliances, a spacious island, and lots of cabinets and storage space for organizing are among the top upgraded features that buyers will pay extra for.

If you don’t have the budget for a full renovation or big upgrades, painting the cabinets, installing updated hardware, and decluttering can also go a long way towards making the home more appealing.

The NAR report also lists a bathroom remodel as having a 57% ROI. Sleek fixtures and streamlined design will set your home up for getting the best offers.

Wood floors

While we’re talking about ROI, new wood floors offer a 106% ROI while refinishing existing hardwood floors gives a 100% ROI, according to the NAR report. For under an average of $5,000, this project will make your home move-in ready and encourage offers from buyers who want to move in without having to make lots of changes.

Energy efficient upgrades

Buyers today know that there are energy efficient upgrades that can reduce utility bills and their impact on the environment, so these upgrades are features homebuyers are looking for.

According to Energy Star, an energy-efficient water heater could cost $700 more than a standard water heater, but over its lifetime can yield $3,500 in energy savings.

As far as what potential buyers are willing to pay for these types of upgrades, The National Association of Home Builders reports that 46% of homebuyers are willing to pay between $1,000 and $9,999 and 37% are willing to pay $10,000 or more to save on their utility bills. 

Suggestions for energy efficient upgrades include upgrading the insulation, installing an electric car docking station, and replacing old thermostats with programmable ones.

Solar panels are also an increasingly popular addition to residential properties and, depending on your market, could increase your home’s value—provided you can prove the savings. We take a deep dive into solar panels here.

Accommodations for multi-generational living and aging-in-place

Just under 50% of firms in the AIA survey said they saw an increase in demand for homes that can accomodate multi-generational living. Things like additional living spaces like a finished basement or attic, for instance, can act as a space for an aging parent. 

A home that’s prepared for aging-in-place is also something that older homebuyers may be looking for. Adding grab bars to bathrooms, ensuring handrails are sturdy, and creating a first floor primary bedroom are all ways to make your home appeal to buyers focused on multi-generational living or aging-in-place.

silver and white table floor lamp
It’s not that hard or expensive to add smart and internet-connected features to a home that buyers love to see

Tech-friendly systems

Buyers today are looking for tech-friendly systems in the home to optimize and automate home functions. And you can achieve this without converting everything you own to a connected device. 

According to Master Appraisal Services, to qualify as a smart home, your home needs to include either a smart security feature or a smart temperature feature and at least two of the following:

  • Smart appliances
  • Smart outdoor sensors
  • Smart HVAC system, including fans or vents
  • Smart outdoor systems, including plant sensors and watering systems
  • Smart safety features, including fire and carbon monoxide detectors or night lights
  • Smart security, including locks, alarm systems, or cameras

Adding some or all of these features to your home can help it demand a higher price.

On a budget? Buyers also want to see these things.

You don’t have to do a big remodel to make your home more appealing. There are many features that buyers want that don’t cost much, if anything at all. While these aren’t necessarily features in a home that buyers will pay extra for, overlooking these imperfections is a mistake when you’re getting ready to sell. 

Tidy up and declutter

Touring a home often requires a lot of imagination on the part of the buyer. Even if your home is pristine and perfectly decorated to your tastes, they might not love the wall color or have a difficult time picturing their sofa in your living room. Make it as easy as possible for them to see themselves in your space.

First of all, tidy up. Put away the pile of shoes that usually resides next to the front door. Hide the mountain of paperwork that always seems to stack up on the corner of the countertop. Make all the beds.

This is also a great time to declutter. You probably don’t want to pack everything that’s been hiding in the bottom of your closet anyway, so this is the perfect excuse to really get in there and declutter your space. It’s better for buyers, and you’ll thank yourself when it’s time to pack your boxes.

Increase the curb appeal

While homebuyers have probably looked at—ok, scrutinized—pictures of your home online, their true first impression will be driving up to it. Increasing your home’s curb appeal doesn’t necessarily mean re-siding or re-roofing your home—though both have a high ROI. Mowing the lawn, weeding the garden and adding a few plants or flowers, upgrading the mailbox, power washing, and trimming trees can all increase potential buyer interest.

Take care of the repairs you’ve been putting off

Sure, a squeaky hinge, a loose cabinet pull, or a burnt-out lightbulb aren’t a huge deal in the big scheme of things. But you can bet that as a potential buyer walks around your home, they’re keeping an inventory of things they will need to fix if they move in. Fixing all of those little things can allow buyers to focus on the features of the home that really matter.

Other tricks like painting the walls a neutral color and hanging affordable art can also increase the amount that a buyer is willing to pay for your home.

Do your research and get started!

Analyzing the features that homebuyers will pay extra for is a crucial step when preparing your home to put on the market. But it’s important to keep in mind that the market will differ from region to region, and even from neighborhood to neighborhood. Where one area may see a large ROI on features that allow aging-in-place, other areas will see a high demand for smart features. 

While many of these are features homebuyers will pay extra for, it’s important to discuss these projects with a real estate agent before embarking on a home renovation or spending a lot of money on upgrades. 

blue and white wooden house near green trees during daytime
Curb appeal is what catches your buyer’s eye first and all it takes is some light gardening and some power washing

FAQs

What are popular features of homes?

Popular home features include smart systems (HVAC, water heaters, appliances, etc), outdoor living space, a divided floor plan, an updated kitchen and bathroom, and new or refinished wood floors.

The popularity of these features may depend on the region. For instance, an outdoor living space may be more important in Texas than in Wisconsin.

What are good features for a home to have?

To determine the best features for your home to have, do some research and talk to a local real estate agent. Things like accommodations for multi-generational living and features that aid in aging-in-place, outdoor living spaces, a home office, and a playroom for the kids are all good features for a home to have.

What features do I want in a house?

Before embarking on a home search or starting a renovation, it’s important to zero in on the features that you really want in a house. Think of what you use your home for most—entertaining, family time, work, etc—and the spaces you spend the most time in—living room, kitchen, home office, outside—and focus on those features.

About the author: Stephanie Mickelson is a freelance writer based in Northwest Wisconsin who specializes in real estate, building materials, and design. When she’s not writing, she can be found juggling kids and coffee.

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