13 Home Features Today's Buyers Want Most

Thinking about selling your house? Here are 13 home features potential buyers are coveting right now.

A female real estate agent shows a home to a young couple, exterior view.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It’s a great time to sell your home. Inventory is still historically low, and sales have picked up as average 30-year mortgage rates have softened since their high in October 2023. Interest rates are forecasted to continue falling this year, enabling buyers to be more choosy, and sellers will have to step up their game in a more competitive environment. Home supply is also growing; there were 9.1% more newly listed homes at the close of 2023 compared to 2022, according to Realtor.com data.

We’ve featured the top 13 features buyers surveyed by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) said they wanted in 2024. Some are small projects that you could do yourself fairly quickly and cheaply. Others require more time, money and planning to find and hire contractors and get materials, which can be a tough ask amid a remodeling boom and shortages of labor and materials.

Overall, buyers are opting for smaller homes with design touches important to them, like a master bath on the main floor or a front porch. Buyers want to have plenty of comfortable, well-lit outdoor space. They value nearby parks and walkability.

As the housing market continues to rebound, would-be sellers should think twice before skipping out on updating areas of their homes in need of serious upgrades. Home buyers are willing to spend big on homes with higher-quality finishes in sought-after neighborhoods. Ensure your home is in top condition to get the most attention and the highest possible price.

However, with a few exceptions, you’re unlikely to recoup all your remodeling costs when you sell. According to Remodeling magazine’s 2023 Cost vs. Value report, sellers were estimated to recoup 23% to 104% of the cost of the 23 projects considered. For example, the average cost of a mid-range bathroom remodel is $24,606 (up from $24,424 in 2021). You'd recoup about $16,413 (67%) of that amount during a resale within a year.

The report found that you generally get the biggest bang for your buck on outdoor projects, such as replacing a garage door, entry door or siding.

The highest return on investment (ROI) comes from swapping an HVAC system from oil or gas heat to an electric heat pump, yielding 104% ROI. These conversions are also eligible for substantial tax credits available for home energy efficiency projects.

The cost of inaction can be far greater than the small loss you'll incur on any home improvement project. "Getting stuck in time with your home isn't a smart move and is rarely rewarded financially at sale time," said Compass broker Brian K. Lewis. In fact, it may cause your house to linger on the market longer. As a result, you'll likely have to pay ongoing mortgage, maintenance and staging costs.

If you want to get the most bang for your buck, focus on features that most home buyers really want to see and that you’ll enjoy for as long as you live in the home. Consumer tastes can vary by region, so consult with your real estate agent to find out which home features are in high demand in your area, advises Dr. Jessica Lautz, vice president of demographics and behavioral insights for the National Association of Realtors.


We looked at the most recent What Home Buyers Really Want report from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) to assess the preferences of recent and prospective home buyers. We also used an article in Builder to determine the percentages of prospective buyers who wanted specific features identified in the NAHB report. Some return on investment (ROI) data came from Remodeling magazine's 2023 Cost vs. Value report. Estimated project costs come from Angi and HomeWyse.com and reflect the cost of materials and contractor labor, unless noted otherwise.

Ellen Kennedy
Personal Finance Editor, Kiplinger.com

Ellen writes and edits personal finance stories, especially on credit cards and related products. She also covers the nexus between sustainability and personal finance. She was a manager and sustainability analyst at Calvert Investments for 15 years, focusing on climate change and consumer staples. She served on the sustainability councils of several Fortune 500 companies and led corporate engagements. Before joining Calvert, Ellen was a program officer for Winrock International, managing loans to alternative energy projects in Latin America. She earned a master’s from the U.C. Berkeley in international relations and Latin America. 

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