What do buyers want instead of fireplaces?
Just because they're eschewing features that previously raised the value and selling price of homes doesn’t mean buyers aren’t selective. Their demands today just lean toward the practical.
The NAHB survey, What Home Buyers Really Want, polled 4,000 homebuyers who have recently purchased or plan to purchase a home in the next three years to determine the most desirable features. The organization came up with a list of 175 home features with varying degrees of desirability.
Tops on the list? A laundry room, EnergyStar windows and appliances, and energy-efficient certification for the whole house. Garage storage and walk-in pantries also ranked high.
Open floor plans, especially a completely or partially open kitchen and dining room area, were prioritized by 86% of survey participants. And, in keeping with the growing trend of outdoor living spaces, patios, and exterior lighting made the top 10 on the list of most desirable features.
Fireplaces, on the other hand, ranked mid-way down the list of 175 features, with 48% of participants rating a wood-burning fireplace as desirable and 55% desiring a gas-burning model. Only 16% of buyers listed any type of fireplace as essential for a home purchase.
Regional differences in fireplace demand
Not surprisingly, the demand for fireplaces varies regionally. The prevalence of a fireplace seems to be based on a combination of climate and home prices. The Pacific Coast, which includes Southern California, has the fewest amount of homes with at least one fireplace (36%), followed by the mountain region (38%), and then the fair-weather South Atlantic, spanning from Florida up to the southern border of Pennsylvania.
The regions with the most homes with at least one fireplace are the chilly mid-Atlantic (57%) and the west north central U.S. (56%). Encompassing New York and New Jersey, the mid-Atlantic also has a large market for luxury homes over $500,000.