The 5 Most Sought-After Features People Want in a Starter Home

You’ve browsed enough Zillow porn to know that (1) you’ll never tire of neutral color palettes and marble countertops, and (2) the day you can afford a double-island kitchen is the day you’ll know you’ve made it. But until then, it’s worth considering design choices that will entice potential buyers—and get you top dollar on your listing—when you’re ready to sell down the road. So see below for five sought-after features buyers are looking for in a starter home (or what call out in a listing, if you're thinking about selling).

Every Generation (Except Millennials) Wants This One Thing From Their Dream House

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1. Smart Home Tech

ICYMI, smart home tech and eco-friendly designs are among the hottest home trends of 2022 (especially for Gen Xers). We’re talking everything from temperature-regulating thermostats and ring doorbells to solar pathway lights. Plus, a recent survey from Rocket Homes found that 70 percent of participants consider these to be ‘must haves’ in a starter home, while 84 percent of respondents were looking for listings that would make WFH more efficient.

2. Hardwood Floors

Time and time again, every realtor we’ve spoken to agrees: hardwood floors are a sure-fire way to draw in potential buyers. Plus, 26 percent of participants in Rocket Homes’ survey had hardwood floors at the top of their wish list. Of course, this makes sense; updated finishes and high-quality materials matter when it comes to a home listing. But true hardwood floors only get better with age and never go out of style (AKA a worthwhile investment).


3. Kitchen Islands

Yet another feature 26 participants had on their wishlist? A kitchen island. A place where family members can gather, dine and share stories from their day is going to have a major impact on a home listing (after all, buyers are looking for a home where they can envision their daily routines). It’s no secret that people are looking for marble and quartzite kitchen surfaces, but Houzz’s 2021 Kitchen Trends Study also found that ​​one in four homeowners are choosing contrasting colors for their island countertops. And while white has recently been the most popular shade, according to Houzz, mid-tone wood is making a comeback (and butcherblock is particularly sought after for a high-contrast look).

4. Walk-in Closets

Kitchen islands aside, millennial buyers actually ranked kitchen features near the bottom of the list of coveted home upgrades, according to a 2021 Cinch Home Services survey. Instead, 34.2 percent of millennials from Rocket homes’ survey regarded a primary bedroom with a walk-in closet to be way more appealing. What’s more, this group of 25- to 40-year-olds spent an average of $167,500 on their very first home, and 40 percent of participants were willing to go over budget for a home that didn’t need major renovations.

5. Stainless Steel Appliances

A stainless steel refrigerator, washer dryer set or smart dishwasher are among some of the most sought-after upgrades, according to 20 percent of survey participants. This was backed up by Houzz’s 2022 Kitchen Trends Study, which found that nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of homeowners opted for stainless—a 3-point increase over 2021.

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Sydney Meister

Assistant Editor

Sydney Meister is PureWow's Assistant Editor, covering everything from interior design and dating trends (helloo, rizz) to relationship advice, weddings, real estate, parenting...
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