How many of these wish-listed upgrades does your house have?

By Marisa Spyker
December 18, 2019
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The start of a new year—and perhaps even more, a new decade—is often a time for reflection, for reassessing what you currently have and setting goals for what you’d like to achieve in the next 360-plus days. If you’re among those contemplating a major life change, whether it’s a new job or a change of scenery, there’s a decent chance you’re considering putting your own home on the market.

But before you go decking out your pad in Pinterest-inspired fashion in an effort to make it more marketable, you might want to take a look at the results of a new survey by Porch.com, which polled nearly 1,000 homeowners on their most-wanted home features. (Spoiler alert: Open shelving did not make the top 10.)

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According to the survey, if there’s one thing that all homeowners can agree on—from Baby Boomers to Millennials—it’s the necessity for a spacious back porch. Of the 1,000 people surveyed, more than a third ranked the outdoor feature as a must-have in their last house hunt, making it the most valued asset among all age groups.

That’s followed closely behind by two interior upgrades, renovated kitchens and hardwood flooring. Among Millennial homebuyers, updated kitchens ranked as the second most important quality in a potential new place. (Women, in general, were twice as likely as men to mark spruced up kitchens as essentials in a house hunt.) Gen X homeowners, meanwhile, value both hardwood flooring and rooms with natural sunlight above a magazine-worthy kitchen.

But, unless Millennials are your target audience in the real estate market (and even if they are), you might want to think twice about undergoing a kitchen reno for the sake of selling. The big-ticket expense—a survey in Houzz found that kitchens “command the highest median spend in home remodels”—can set you back $11,000, on average, for a minor remodel and a whopping $33,000 for a major one. And, while it might succeed in turning more heads toward your real estate listing, kitchen remodels are often ranked among the worst investments for recouping costs.

Deck additions and new hardwood flooring, meanwhile, can be somewhat more wallet-friendly while still reaping the benefits of attracting some serious buyer attention. A good tip? If you’re committing to any major reno, consider doing it before you’re ready to list so you, too, have time to enjoy the fruits of your labor (and cash). And never underestimate the power of a fresh coat of paint.

See all 10 of the most popular features prospective buyers look for in a home:

  1. Back porch or deck (33.9 percent)
  2. Renovated kitchen (30.8 percent)
  3. Hardwood flooring (30.4 percent)
  4. Finished garage (25.8 percent)
  5. Open floor plan (24.4 percent)
  6. Finished basement (23.9 percent)
  7. Natural sunlight in at least one room (22.5 percent)
  8. Renovated bathrooms (21.4 percent)
  9. Energy-efficient (17.7 percent)
  10. Renovated bedrooms (16.2 percent)