The 5 Most Important Features First-Time Homebuyers Want


The first quarter of 2016 has come and gone, and that means one thing: the spring selling season is finally here. But with millennials and first-time homebuyers expected to make up a large portion of buyers this year, how can sellers be sure to capitalize on their participation? What, for that matter, can homeowners do to be sure that their properties sell this spring?

If you are looking to take advantage of the spring real estate market but aren’t quite sure which angle to take, here is a list of the five most likely amenities first-time homebuyers are going to prioritize:

1. Updated Kitchens & Baths

Millennials and first-time homebuyers have made their intentions known; updated kitchens and baths are a must. According to a recent survey conducted by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc., 81 percent of respondents recognized updated kitchens and bathrooms as the most important feature when considering whether or not to purchase a home this spring.

If your budget warrants it, I highly recommend upgrading your kitchen and bathrooms. In the latest Cost Vs. Value report issued by, both kitchen and bathroom remodels have become synonymous with some of the highest ROI projects. What’s more, you don’t need to break the bank to attract first-time homebuyers.

The key is to search comparables and make just enough improvements to stand out from the competition. Remember, there is no need to conduct a $100,000 kitchen remodel in a neighborhood where homes are only selling for $250,000. However, I do recommend upgrading your kitchen to the point it is slightly better then those within a close proximity.

2. Open Floor Plans

Outside of modernized kitchens and baths, first-time homebuyers have expressed their desire for open floor plans. Not surprisingly, 59 percent of first-time homebuyers this spring are expected to place a priority on less-confined homes, or those that facilitate functionality. Sellers this spring should consider their current floor plan and determine whether or not it would be worth knocking down a wall or two before they put the property up for sale.

The proper renovations have been known to add to both the value of a property and its appeal. Consequently, it is entirely possible for more appealing floor plans to create demand. The more exposure your property generates, the more likely it is to sell faster and for more money.

If at all possible, I recommend eliminating any walls that separate the kitchen from the living room. People of all generations, not only millennials, have come to favor the open kitchen concept, as it allows for a more conversational flow to the property.

3. Low Maintenance Features

The cost of purchasing a new home is enough to keep a large amount of millennials from actively participating in the housing market. Even those that finally manage to take the leap must do so with cautious optimism, as prices are surpassing their pre-recession levels in more and more cities every month. For what it’s worth, first-time homebuyers are finding it difficult to come up with a down payment and monthly mortgage payment, let alone the funds to maintain the property they just bought. First-time homebuyers simply don’t have the expendable funds to worry about too many costs that follow the actual purchase itself.

That said, it’s not hard to see why first-time homebuyers are inclined to favor properties that require little to no maintenance. The idea of saving money on maintenance is a strong selling point, and one spring home sellers need to consider.

Most first-time buyers cringe at the thought of spending more money after having recently made the largest purchase of their life, so it only makes sense that they will prefer a “move-in ready” home over one that requires a lot of maintenance. That said, spring home sellers are advised to reduce the amount of post-purchase work as possible.

I recommend refurnishing your kitchen with new appliances. Not only will they add to the value of the home, but first-time homebuyers will also recognize the new addition as something that will not need attention for quite some time. In fact, the less they will have to address after immediately purchasing the home, the better.

4. Energy Efficiency

Not unlike limiting the amount of maintenance a property will require once it is purchased, energy efficiency has caught the attention of first-time homebuyers for the soul purpose of saving money. However, energy efficiency has the added benefit of compounding savings over time.

Spring home sellers are advised to include as many energy efficient upgrades in their homes as they can if they want to attract the interest of first-time buyers.

According to Remodeling’s Cost Vs. Value report, the addition of fiberglass insulation in your attic can set you back about $1,268. What’s more, that same project coincides with an average resale value of $1,482, or a return of 116.9 percent on the initial cost of the project; it actually adds to the value of the house.

However, today’s buyers will be more interested in the amount of money they will save on energy bills over the course of them living in the home. Insulated properly, a home can save owners a lot on their energy bill. According to Energy Star, “homeowners can save an average of 15% on heating and cooling costs (or an average of 11% on total energy costs) by air sealing their homes and adding insulation in attics, floors over crawl spaces, and accessible basement rim joists.”

If you are looking to sell your home, don’t hesitate to highlight any energy efficient amenities you may have. First-time homebuyers are interested in anything that will save them money in the long-run, not excluding, low-flush toilets, attic insulation, double-paned windows and anything else that will reduce both their carbon footprint and energy consumption.

5. Wireless Connectivity

No other generation is more aware of what today’s technology is capable of than millennials. That said, it is safe to assume that their inherent dependency on technology will affect the way millennials buy homes. In fact, nearly a quarter of all first-time buyers (20%) are expected to place a priority on homes with strong cell phone service and Internet connectivity.

Not surprisingly, millennials are the first generation of buyers that fully expect homes to meet their technological demands. Strong Internet connections and cell phone service are no longer a luxury, but rather a necessity. The sooner spring sellers realize that, the better their chances of attracting a buyer are. Any home that neglects to address the issue is destined to grow stale on the market.

Never before has the need for strong cell phone service and WiFi connectivity been more important to buyers, and those looking to sell this spring should take note. Be proactive and address any issues your property may have with connectivity. For less than $100 you can buy a signal booster and eliminate any concerns your future buyers may have.

Spring selling season

This spring will certainly draw the interest of first-time homebuyers on a massive scale, and those sellers with the right amenities in place will be the first to capitalize on what many are expecting to be the best spring in over a decade. Do yourself a favor and attract the largest amount of buyers by include these updates on your next listing.