Note: This article was written by Camile Salama and was originally posted on Zillow Blog (www.zillow.com/pro) on July 11, 2014. http://www.trulia.com/pro/buyers/6-surprisingly-affordable-luxury-features-buyers-love/
Modest. Affordable. Starter. There is no shortage of words we use to describe a home that cost less than the average in an area. But no matter how —shall we say,budget-friendly—a listing is, or how constrained the buyer’s wallet may be, every home-owner hopeful still has the wish-list of luxury features that they simply think theycan’tlive without.
It can drive agents batty. After all, in real estate, you get what you pay for. If you have a beer budget, that’s okay! But don’t expect that you’re going to get Champagne.
Still, when it comes to buying a home, it’s going to be the biggest investment most consumers make in their lifetime, and even a home that’s budget-friendly is going to feel like they’re dropping big bucks. Think about it: almost no one looks at their monthly mortgage statement and says, “Wow! It’s just so cheap!”
Luckily, there are a few little luxuries that sellers and agent can easily install or fake that don’t cost a fortune and that potential buyers go wild over!
Here are a few of those little, affordable luxuries! If you’ve got a listing that needs some more buyer love, these little fixes can go a long way toward closing a killer deal.
For a home to automatically anticipate your preferences and living habits, and conduct itself accordingly, is a serious luxury that no longer requires a serious investment. Easily programmable thermostats and smart home systems are now available at very low prices. Check out the Nest Learning Thermostat for one of the most simple-to-use, inexpensive alternatives around. Created by the man who designed the iPod, it learns the temperatures you prefer without any complicated programming process, it can detect when no ones home and change the temperature accordingly, and it is even remote controllable via Wi-Fi and mobile app.
In some areas, home cable companies are now bundling temperature automation and smart home features like remote-controlled lighting, temperatures and security systems and even smoke and carbon monoxide monitors right into the same online dashboard you use to pay your bill or order a movie on-demand. Word of mouth raves from users of these sorts of systems often include delight at money saved on overall more efficient use of electricity, time saved coming home to check that doors are locked and other little daily assists beyond the expected convenience.
These next-gen automations are able to be had in the $200 or less range, up front, though the size of the home and number of devices required can send costs upward.
2. Nature Niceties
Visiting my grandmother recently, I was reminded that there is nothing quite so luxurious as craving a piece of fruit or a particular meal and being able to walk right into your backyard and grab the fixings for it—cost and chemical-free. This doesn’t even factor in the beauty of a kitchen garden right outside your window, or the healthfulness of gardening as a habit.
The range of cost for landscaping and creating what many now call outdoor rooms is vast. But there are also dozens of inexpensive projects that can level-up a home’s nature factor, like:
- installing raised vegetable beds in the backyard;
- hanging a vertical garden on the kitchen wall;
- putting in window boxes or outdoor seating;
- installing a bird bath or planting a new tree.
Lush, green anything is a luxury that can cost very little to enjoy for years on end.
3. Delicious Details
Customizing, sprucing and even adding little details can make a tract home feel custom, a condo feel personalized and can even take a home with character and imbue it with your character. These little projects can also be bizarrely high in the aesthetic impact and feeling of polish they add to a home vis-a-vis the relatively low investment of time and money they require.
Walk through the listing and see where you can work with the sellers to add, improve or tweak the details— consider projects like:
- Adding crown moldings or baseboards;
- Adding interior or exterior shutters;
- Painting moldings, baseboards, mantles and door trims a contrasting color to the surrounding areas;
- Replacing doors and lighting fixtures (I just replaced the pendant lighting fixture over my own kitchen table and have to say, it looks like a new room!) ;
- Replacing dated faucets, sinks, toilets and hardware— even recessed lighting soffits and door handles;
- Painting exterior eaves, doors, trims and fences.
A survey by Sunrun revealed that over 40 percent of Americans believe a solar system cost more than $20,000. And get this: eight out of 10 homeowners said they would install a solar system at home if cost wasn’t a factor. Solar is not for everyone, and not even for every home, but in states with sunny, hot summers and energy bills to boot, installing a solar system can create the double luxury of allowing owners to run the home on renewable energy and reduce energy costs in one fell swoop.
The truth is, in some states, cost isn’t a factor. There’s a new generation of companies— solar power service providers— who will pay for a solar system, install it on the home for little or nothing, and pay for its maintenance. In turn, the homeowner pays them for the power used.
These arrangements are not available everywhere, but it’s certainly worth investigating whether you can find a solar service provider in your neck of the woods who can boost the perceived value of the listing.
5.Built-ins (or faux ones)
Built-ins like desks, book shelves, closet systems and even kitchen recycling centers feel particularly luxurious because they offer a polished approach to efficient use of the space in a home, and often eliminate the need for bulky pieces of furniture.
You might be surprised to realize how affordable it can be to build a desk or closet organizer into your existing space. Or, get up to speed on all the off-the-shelf built-in alternatives that are on the market, like a kitchen nook dining set in lieu of a built-in banquette. Think creatively: placing a day bed under a window with a bookcase on each end is a fantastic alternative to building a window seat between built-in shelves. Look for built-in alternatives on Craigslist or Freecycle, then have it painted or reupholstered, to get a luxe, custom look at a very low price.
6. Dedicated Spaces
Like custom built-ins, dedicating a space to a particular favorite activity is a special luxury, even if the home is not otherwise especially luxurious. The idea here is to simply dedicate a space to an activity, painting it, installing the appropriate furniture and carving out a place for all the supplies that are involved in that activity. At my house, I just painted the office in bright colors that researchers have found to boost creativity, installing new project tables and bookshelves to facilitate the organization and stand-up work style I prefer. My friend A.G. has turned one bedroom into a room for her menagerie of pets—dogs and birds alike!
Thoughts? Suggestions? Or just pure reactions? Tell us what you think by completing the form below and let us know, we’ll be more than delighted to hear from you!