Are Kitchens and Baths Stll Most Important to Home Buyers?

We have been hearing for decades that kitchens and baths are the two most important rooms to home buyers. Yet we haven’t seen any solid statistics backing that up since the start of the COVID pandemic. So what’s the deal? Do home buyers still consider kitchens and baths most important? It is hard to say.

Real estate agents began discussing the importance of other factors at the start of the 2021 home buying season. One particular realtor who published a post on the Active Rain website said she noticed her buyers were as interested in outdoor spaces and home offices as they were kitchens and baths. She attributed it to changing attitudes as a result of lockdowns and remote work.

In fairness, the realtor also said that comfortable kitchens and baths were still important. She was by no means suggesting that sellers ignore kitchens and baths to focus on other things. That’s good because sellers obsessing over features their homes currently lack could end up spending way too much on upgrades to make selling worthwhile.

Buyers Want Security Features

Kitchens and baths will be discussed in more detail later in this post. For now, a discussion on security features is warranted. Remember that homeowner attitudes have changed since the start of the pandemic. People spending a lot more time at home has resulted in a new way of looking at safety and security features.

In a January 2023 post discussing home security upgrades, Vivint Smart Home cited some fascinating statistics relating to security features and property values. Check these out:

  • Homes with at least one security feature fetch $38 more per square foot than homes with no security features.
  • More than 25% of American home buyers make security features a priority in a new home.
  • Security cameras, smart locks, and outdoor lighting are priorities among more than 40% of buyers who look for security features.

These three statistics alone give us a clearer picture of how modern buyers view security features. They want their homes to be more secure. They are willing to pay higher prices to get that security. The question is whether modern home buyers will pay more for security or upgraded kitchens and baths. That is something we just don’t know right now.

Why Buyers Want Security Features

It would be interesting to see surveys explaining why modern buyers want security features. We could make assumptions, but actual data would be quite revealing. Survey data would tell us what people think about security on a day-to-day basis.

It could be that rising crime rates – or at least the perception thereof – is a big factor here. Anyone who pays attention to the news knows that certain cities have seen an explosion in violent crimes in recent years. Constant exposure to such stories can make homeowners fearful.

It could also be that the rising interest in security features has more to do with consumer awareness than anything else. Another way to phrase it is to say that home security is a fad right now. Do not dismiss the idea without thinking it through. There is validity to the notion that buyers want security features because their friends’ homes have them.

An Outlier 30 Years Ago

Home security systems have been around for decades. But some 30 years ago, they were an outlier in the real estate game. A home security system would have been a nice bonus to a buyer but not something that person would be willing to pay extra for. Home security just wasn’t a priority. Likewise, homeowners back then did not go out of their way to install security systems.

Fast forward to introduction of wireless home security about a decade ago. People began buying wireless systems for two reasons: the novelty and the fact that they were cheaper than professionally installed, wired systems. As more people purchased wireless home security, they started a trend.

These days it is getting harder to visit friends and family members without experiencing the security features in their homes. More and more people have wireless security cameras, for example. More homeowners have video doorbells, smart locks, and motion-activated lighting. Security features have become so common that people who live in homes without any security features are considered the odd ones out.

Then There’s the Age Factor

We cannot discount the age factor in all of this. Older home buyers probably still place more value on comfortable kitchens and baths. Kitchens are where they entertain guests. As for bathrooms, you know the drill. No need to explain it here. The point is that updated kitchens and baths designed to be comfortable appeal to older buyers because it is what they have long preferred.

Younger buyers may not think the same way. They may not think about an updated and comfortable kitchen in terms of entertainment. Instead, they might prefer to entertain on an outdoor patio. Remember the real estate agent mentioned at the start of this post? One of the things she noticed among younger buyers was their desire for outdoor spaces.

Your Mileage May Vary

Here’s hoping you aren’t depending on this post to guide you about which upgrades to make to your home. You have read a lot of thoughts along with a few statistics. But none of what you have read answers the fundamental question. Data suggests that kitchens and baths are not as important as they once were, but there is no proof that modern buyers prioritize other things.

When it comes to upgrades, your mileage may vary. Perhaps the best thing you could do is research similar houses that have sold in your area. Research sale prices and the features offered. You might be able to draw your own correlations. Just remember that what buyers prioritize today might change by the time you get ready to sell.

Who knows? Maybe kitchens and baths really aren’t important anymore. But perhaps they will make a rebound within the next 10 to 20 years. Anything is possible.

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