11 Recent Home Buyers Share What They Looked For When Touring Houses


While your home may be perfect for your lifestyle, it may not work for another individual or family. Since we all have unique needs and preferences, our ideas of “the ideal home” are different. To get an idea of what buyers are looking for these days, we interviewed 11 recent home buyers.

Below, you’ll find exactly what they searched for when they were touring houses.

1. Ground-Level Condo With Character

“When looking for a condo in the South End of Boston, I wanted something with ‘character’ rather than a modern, city look. Also, since I am a professional musician and the owner of a baby grand piano, finding a condo on the ground level was non-negotiable since I had to move my piano in. Once I found a place that fit all my criteria, it was really a no-brainer,” shares Boston homeowner Alissa M.

A house with character has special features that make it stand out from the cookie-cutter homes you may find in your neighborhood. Features like crown molding, built-ins, shutters and vintage fireplace mantels can easily add character to any space.

2. School District

If your goal is to find a home in a good school district, do some online research by visiting websites like GreatSchools and the National Center for Education Statistics.

“When my wife and I were shopping for our suburban Miami house, school district was the most important thing. After all, great private schools in our area can easily cost $10,000 per year, per child,” says Miguel S. in Florida.

If you have family or friends in an area you’re looking to move to, they can be a helpful resource. Consider asking friends and family members with kids how they like their school district.

3. Smaller House

There are many reasons you may want to downsize. Maybe your kids no longer live in your house and you’re an empty nester. Or maybe you’d like to reduce your living expenses or fund your retirement.

“I bought my house after my divorce,” says Anne L., a recent home buyer. “I wanted to downsize but ensure the house was large enough for myself and three of my kids that still live with me. Also, a first-floor master suite was a must-have as I work in home health care and see many of my senior patients struggle with accessibility issues.”

Regardless of your reason, downsizing can make your life easier because you’ll have less to clean and pay for.

4. Home Office

About 8 million people in America work from home. If you have an at-home job, buying a home with a dedicated office space can be a huge selling point. You’re more likely to remain productive and “in the zone” if you have a quiet, private place to get your work done.

A space to work at home was a non-negotiable feature for Leslie K. when she and her husband were looking for their new home.

“Since we both work from home, office space was [an] important feature we looked for when touring houses,” says Leslie.

5. Location

You can change the wallpaper or the entire kitchen in a home. You can even change its size. However, what you can’t change is its location. For this reason, make sure the home you buy is in a location you’re happy with. Remember, you can’t pick up a home in the country and move it to the city and vice versa.

“My family and I recently bought a house in the Pacific Northwest,” says Amy M. “Due to the fact that home prices are high in the area, we couldn’t afford everything on our wish list. However, we made sure the house was we bought was in a good location, near trails and playgrounds, and had a reasonably large lot. These are two things about a home that we could never change.”

6. Updated Elements

“When shopping for a home, the kitchen mattered a lot to me. I really wanted marble or quartz countertops and a light, airy feel rather than dark woods or counters. Since I’m not much of a bathtub person, I also wanted a master bathroom with a modern shower. Glass shower doors and a rain head shower made a huge impact in my buying decision,” says recent home buyer Lindsey C.

Updated elements like quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances and a tile backsplash can benefit you in two ways: they can give you a stylish space to call home and help your home sell faster should you decide to put it on the market in the near future.

7. Layout

Layout is a key factor for many house hunters.

In a traditional layout, each designated area of the home becomes a separate enclosed room with walls. An open-floor layout differs as there are no walls between the different areas, so the kitchen, living room and dining room may all share one space. The trick is that not everyone wants the same thing. Your lifestyle will dictate what kind of layout you prefer.

“[My wife and I] based our house search on the style we wanted. We looked for a formal layout which would allow us to host formal dinner parties and showcase our antiques.  This was harder than we expected since most homes in Dallas, Texas, are either ranch style or flipped to cater towards contemporary and modern styles,” says Alan V., a homeowner in Texas.

8. Good Bones Without the “Fluff”

“I think I’m somewhat unique from a lot of other millennials in that I didn’t want shiny, nice and new,” shares recent first-time home buyer John F. “If I toured a home and saw it staged or saw a fancy new backsplash or granite countertops, to me that screams ‘you’re about to pay too much for this house!’ I see so many flips where people bought a house for $100,000 and are trying to resell it for $300,000. I know they likely rushed the project and cut corners to save money and maximize their profit. That’s not a house I want to buy, as good bones and quality were important to me.”

What do good bones look like? A home with good bones has a sturdy roof, generously sized rooms, a coherent floor plan, a nice lot and location, updated plumbing and quality construction materials. It may need a bit of work because there is old wallpaper in the living room or the kitchen countertops are well past their prime, but it has good potential and will last you for years to come.

9. Specific Rooms

Unique geometry is hard to come by in homes these days, especially newer builds. Whether you love your home’s unique geometry or not, the right buyer will be looking for it!

Becky B. set out with a very specific goal when looking for a house, and she found it. “I had been searching for a home with round rooms and found one with two! I have loved the look of round rooms since I was a small child. This home I bought has two dining areas with round rooms on either side of the house. I put a round kitchen table in one and the other has my pub table,” says Becky.

10. The Ultimate Master Bath

“The master bath was very important to me during my home search. In the master bath, I was looking for small opportunities for upgrade potential so I could make it mine,” says Precious S.

During her home buying journey, Precious looked for a master bath with space and a large soaking tub or jacuzzi, a large picture window and separate counter space.

Luxury features like a free-standing tub, a sauna or steam shower, LED vanity lighting, and a touchless faucet with a built-in soap dispenser can make your bathroom a great place to unwind from everyday life and serve as a huge selling point.

11. Luxury Laundry Room

Even though a laundry room isn’t traditionally a gathering place for guests, it’s a space you likely use on a regular basis. An updated washer and dryer, abundant counter and storage space, and plenty of natural light can make a real impact on house hunters.

“I do laundry at least once a week, so I was looking for a nice laundry room. A well-defined and separate space for laundry was important for me. I didn’t want to have to go down to a dreary unfinished basement to do my laundry,” says Vanessa N.

What This Means For You

Not every potential buyer is going to want the same thing, but in general, it’s safe to say buyers want a home that works for their needs. When showing your home, help house hunters see themselves living there and how they can achieve the home they really they want.