What Home Buyers Really Want

From green features to outdoor living spaces, this year's buyers can be difficult to please.

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If your house is on the market then you might be at the point of tearing your hair out. After all, some sellers have had their home up for sale for years at this point. It can be maddening, and the competition is only getting more intense as prices continue to fall and more foreclosure homes flood the market.

So what, exactly, are buyers looking for this spring? In short, they're looking for homes that are going to save them money. And when you think about it, it just makes sense. Mortgage loans are harder to come by, and thanks to an uncertain economy, people are less likely to splurge on a McMansion they're going to have to pay to heat and cool for the next five years (i.e. save money on utility bills).

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Even if you're planning on staying in your home the next few years, it's still helpful to know what people are looking for because you're likely going to make changes and home improvements over the years. Knowing what potential buyers are interested in can help you invest your money wisely, so you have a better chance of selling when you're actually ready. So what are people looking for?

1. Homes in Good Condition

Buyers aren't interested in fixer-uppers right now. They don't have a lot of cash, and they don't want to spend money on home repairs immediately after they move in. They're looking for homes that are in great condition and that are absolutely move-in ready. They don't want to have to repaint, clean carpets, or cover up cracks in the ceiling. And they especially don't want to spend money on major repairs. To increase your chances of an offer this spring and summer, make sure you do everything you can to get your home in tip-top shape. Utilize a house spring cleaning checklist and make your home spotless before showing it off.

2. Homes with Green Features

Saving money and living green are trends that aren't likely to disappear anytime soon. Buyers are now looking for features which are going to cut down on a home's operating costs, as well as lessen its impact on the environment. Tankless water heaters, high-efficiency furnaces, energy-efficient appliances, energy-efficient windows, adequate insulation, and solar panels are just a few that are making it on to buyers' wish lists.

Basically, any "green" upgrade that's going to save money on utility bills will be highly appealing to people looking for a new home. You probably don't want to splurge on solar panels, a geothermal furnace, or other expensive green energy technologies, but there are some small changes you can make that will help potential buyers save money in your home. For instance, you could install a rain barrel or two against the house, add insulation, upgrade any old appliances to Energy Star rated models, and plant some trees to help with shading during the summer months.

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3. Outdoor Living Spaces

In an uncertain economy, people travel less. This means that our homes are truly becoming our castles, no matter how small they are! Outdoor living spaces have always been popular, but they're especially appealing now since so many people are taking staycations, and choosing to relax at home instead of going out at night and on weekends. If your backyard leaves a lot to be desired, then do whatever you can to turn it into an oasis. Build a deck, plant flowers, add a fountain, and turn it into an escape for potential buyers.

Final Thoughts

If your home is currently on the market, it's important to do everything you can to remove any concerns buyers might have about your house. Sellers sure don't want to continue spending money on their homes, but small changes such as planting flowers, repainting, and cleaning can go a long way towards getting you an offer. Remember, you don't want to give people any reason not to buy your home!

Have you had any success selling your house in this market? What are some of the best methods that worked for you?

Heather Levin is a regular contributor to the Money Crashers personal finance resource site and is also the creator of The Greenest Dollar, a blog focused on green and frugal living.