By Anessa V. Cohen
I have always found it fascinating that every five years or so, priorities seem to change regarding what buyers seek in a home. Not everything changes, but there are small shifts that seem to curve like a river every few years in what buyers consider vital to their quality of life.
One major shift that has already been constant for a number of years is that young buyers coming into the Five Towns are not even considering buying a starter house with a thought to holding their place for several years and then “buying up” to larger quarters down the road. Most of the families you see buying up today are already coming from substantial homes that they had planned to stay in. But they now find themselves in a financial position to buy more house and possibly more land and are taking advantage of it and going larger.
So, if many of the new young buyers are not buying these smaller homes, what is happening to the housing stock of small homes that are ready to be sold? Many of them, if the property they sit on is sufficient, are being purchased by builders who are knocking them down and putting larger new homes on the same lots. These are being scooped up by many a young buyer envisioning this as a home they can stay in forever.
Some of the ranch-style homes are being sought after by older couples looking for smaller living options now that children have married and left the nest. They enjoy the one-floor setup that allows them to still have a private home rather than an apartment, but enjoy the convenience of everything on one floor with no stairs to climb.
Twenty-some-odd years ago, the big convenience that new buyers were looking for was a large eat-in kitchen. Older homes tended to have small eat-in kitchens or work kitchens with a separate breakfast room or even a work kitchen with no eat-in area, so it was considered a luxury to have a den on the main floor in addition to a basement. Today these requirements are mostly standard requests from young buyers.
Many a buyer will jump to buy a house that has a huge eat-in kitchen, even if it means settling for a smaller living room and possibly no den on the main floor—although they still need at least a finished playroom basement under these circumstances. The huge eat-in kitchen has become the most important part of the house, next to the requisite number of bedrooms. Typically most of these buyers prefer at least four bedrooms, even if they have no children yet.
Although everyone wants a living room and dining room—without a dining room, the house is definitely a no-go for a frum couple—everything today seems to be centered on the kitchen, which has become the hub of activity for the young family. Large kitchens, with islands surrounded by stools to sit on in addition to the kitchen table and chairs, are in high demand.
Even a huge kitchen with an open family-room extension on it has become a desirable addition to a new home. Years back, when builders were starting to build these combination kitchen–family rooms, many buyers frowned on them, feeling they were a drawback to their lifestyle. They would rather be able to close off the kitchen while entertaining.
New lifestyle trends seem to play a large part in the way buyers look for homes that work for them. As changes evolve every few years, so goes the priority list of what new buyers look for in their purchases. v
Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker and a licensed N.Y.S. mortgage broker with over 20 years of experience, offering full-service residential and commercial real-estate services (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and mortgaging services (First Meridian Mortgage) in the Five Towns and throughout the tri-state area. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, www.AVCrealty.com. Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to anessa.cohen@AVCrealty.com.