Why Home Buyers (and Sellers) Love Fireplaces
Real estate agents often talk about “curb appeal” in describing a house that’s likely to sell. But that phrase should be updated to include “fireplace appeal,” too. Today’s home buyers are increasingly likely to include fireplaces–outdoor, indoor or both–on their “wish list” of home features. And having the home features potential buyers are seeking helps sellers move their property more quickly, and at a price they desire.
Survey Says…Fireplace, Please
According to 2017 research on Homebuyer Housing Preferences conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), both indoor and outdoor fireplaces remain in the top five of decorative product features for all homebuyers. It’s a preference that spans all generations – millennials, Gen X, Baby Boomers and Seniors, and across all income brackets. In another study, the National Center for Real Estate Research confirmed that fireplaces have a strong, positive effect on selling price, adding about 12 percent to a home’s value.
The web site Realtor.com recently published this list of buyers’ most likely “must-have” home features:
- Wood floors
- Granite countertops
What People Tell Their Realtor
Susan E.K. Foster, a realtor for Edina Realty Highland Park in St. Paul, Minnesota, says she sees decorative home features coming into play once prospective buyers have determined the neighborhood they want and the value of the home they can afford. Foster, who has trademarked her own tag line: “Helping You Find Your Happy Place!™,” says that features that the checklist of features begins right at the start of a visit, when welcoming entryways and brightly colored front doors can set the scene for a positive opinion of the home.
“In the kitchen, they’re usually looking for updated, modern cabinetry and efficient appliances,” she says. “They’re happy to see quartz and granite countertops, decorative range hoods and a hidden area for recycling.” In the bathroom, Foster says the fading fad of immense whirlpool tubs has been replaced by a desire for luxurious, walk-in showers. Fully outfitted laundry rooms, either on the main floor or upper level, are also a top feature.
“Having any sort of finished, outdoor living space is a reliably positive selling factor,” Foster explains. “A nice deck or patio adds a lot of living space without a huge investment. Buyers can picture themselves in the yard, entertaining in that space.” Outdoor fireplaces can play a significant role in adding to the impact and multi-season use of an outdoor space. Other outdoor features that buyers desire include low-maintenance landscaping, big decks, screened-in porches, patios with comfortable furniture and options for shade, water features and outdoor kitchens.
The Truth About Fireplaces
Fireplaces are an easier-to-afford luxury that are on par with bar areas, wine fridges and “Man Caves,” Foster says. “Especially in mid-century homes, sellers are finding creative ways to make the fireplace area ‘pop.’ Sometimes people will paint the fireplace and a surrounding wall in a contrasting color, or add stacked stone to change a fireplace’s look. And those flush-to-the wall contemporary models can get easy and effective makeovers with vintage surrounds and mantels.”
The age of the buyer does make a difference in the type of fireplace they prefer. “Younger buyers are very happy to see gas fireplaces with remote starters,” she says. “That’s part of their desire to spend less time fussing with details like firewood retrieval and lawn work. They don’t want to spend their weekends like their parents did.”