Home features for which buyers will sacrifice location

  • The golden rule in real estate has always been "location, location, location."

    Apparently, you can add "and a bathtub" to that.

    Buyers are willing to sacrifice a few key location characteristics -- important ones like proximity to work and better quality schools -- in order to buy a home with certain features, such as landscaping, his-and-hers closets, an open kitchen and at least one bathtub.

    A study, released from homebuilding company Pulte Group, found that all but 1 percent of respondents would be willing to sacrifice some aspect of their home's location for a more modern abode. Forty-four percent would sacrifice close proximity to work; 35 percent would sacrifice better schools; 34 percent would sacrifice proximity to entertainment and shopping; 31 percent would extend their commute; 29 percent wouldn't mind being further away from family; and 28 percent would sacrifice being close to parks and other outdoor areas.

    The results break away from conventional real estate wisdom that location is a top consideration over specific home features, especially given the fact that resale value is on buyers' minds since the housing crisis saw so many homeowners lose so much value in their homes.

    And in fact, plenty of studies bear this out. According to a study commissioned by the American Public Transportation Association and the National Association of Realtors, property values of homes located within half a mile of public transit options fared 41 percent better in the real estate market on average. Real estate agents in the San Francisco Bay Area noticed that buyers were willing to shell out $200,000 extra for a property in the best school districts.

    So while interior design features certainly add to the value of the home, location can dictate much more value than a master bedroom suite or an oversized kitchen pantry. A good location can act as insulation against swings in market value as well, said Chicago real estate agent Mariana Knittle with @Properties.

    However, and maybe because there's such a premium on homes in the best locations, some buyers are turning to comfort over location. And Pulte's survey points to the features home buyers are particularly excited about -- some of which are new additions to the traditional list of buyer must-haves.

    "When we first started surveying families -- I think a lot of it was done around that time [before the housing crash] -- a lot of people were looking for the most house for their money," said Valerie Dolenga, a Pulte spokesperson. "Now people are thinking about maximizing their budget. Kitchen, storage and bathrooms are probably the three most important things."

    However, Dolenga was still surprised by the recent rise in consumer interest in aspirational luxury items.

    "Who would've thought that a spa would be a main consideration in a master bath?" she said. "Now people also really want the large pantries, and those aren't an everyday thing you'd see in resale."

    Oddly enough, the most important feature to Knittle, an open kitchen, ranked at No. 10 in the list of the top 10 features buyers would sacrifice location to have.

    "An open, good kitchen is a huge seller for any buyer I work with," Knittle said. "That has been consistent for years. Kitchens have never faltered in terms of their priority."

    For homeowners that find themselves in less-than-ideal places, here are the top 10 most in-demand home features that will make buyers forget about location, according to Pulte's study.

    Photo credit: Shutterstock

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    Ilyce R. Glink is an award-winning, nationally-syndicated columnist, best-selling book author and founder of Best Money Moves, an employee benefit program that helps reduce financial stress. She also owns ThinkGlink.com, where readers can find real estate and personal finance resources.