Barn doors are among the features more prospective homeowners are looking for in a new place.

Homey features resulting in larger, faster returns for sellers

By: Abby Hayes, April 20, 2016

What do barn doors, subway tiles and farmhouse sinks have in common? They’re all features homeowners are adding to their properties to increase their selling value, a new survey suggests.

Home value estimators, turned to by those looking to buy, take several factors into account to help shoppers get an idea of what homes are going for. These include location, supply and demand. However, some are more subtle and can only be detailed through listings and for-sale descriptions.

When including them, sellers are finding that they not only receive larger returns, but the properties sell quicker. For instance, according to a recent study from Zillow, listings that referenced “subway tiles,” “shaker cabinets” and “barn doors” sold for approximately 13 percent more than what was anticipated.

Several keywords were examined in Zillow’s content analysis. Other frequent mentions were “exposed brick,” “pendant light,” “heated floors” and “granite.” In each case, properties that referenced them sold for more than what was expected and at a quicker pace.

Buyers really like homes with barn doors
No term drew more attention than “barn door,” a common feature that more colonial homes are found with featured on kitchens and closets. On average, these listings sold for nearly 13.5 percent more than what was projected and were snapped up 57 days faster, according to the Zillow study.

Svenja Gudell, Zillow chief economist, said that while a picture may paint a thousand words, terminology is absolutely essential for sellers to draw buyers’ attention.

“When it comes to real estate listing descriptions – words matter,” Gudell explained. “Your listing description is an opportunity to highlight specific details and finishes that might not be visible in photos.”

Gudell also referenced how it’s important to be “in the know” on what prospective homebuyers are looking for. For example, hardwood floors are still very popular. As such, sellers who have them should be sure to reference them.

Limited inventory, robust demand sending prices aloft

“Six months of inventory is the ideal.”

Regardless of what features are being included in for-sale advertisements, the residential real estate market is humming. Demand is outpacing supply, increasing median sales values. At the end of February, nearly 1.9 million existing homes were up for sale across the country, according to the National Association of Realtors. That’s down 1 percent from the same period last year.

In order for there to be a balanced market, a six-month supply of for-sale properties is best, real estate experts say. At the current sales pace, however, inventory is hovering at right around 4.5 months.

“When there is more demand than inventory, homes sell quickly, prices rise and bidding wars can start,” cautioned Tom Salomone, NAR president. He went on to say that real estate agents can help buyers find the right price for them because they’re more familiar with what’s out there.

Helping to keep the costs of ownership down are low interest rates. Based on the latest mortgage estimates from Freddie Mac, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages average 3.5 percent, down slightly from last April.