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What makes buyers fall in love with a house? A recent survey has the answers

By Monica Boyd
Ask any new homeowner to describe what convinced them that this house was the one, and you’ll hear one word come up over and over again: “love”.

Buying a home, after all, is a highly emotional event, so when the right place comes along, would-be buyers get giddier than a teenager heading to the school ball.

A recent study by economic think tank Kiplinger surveyed thousands of recent homebuyers to determine the most crucial elements in making them “fall in love” with a house.  And we’ve added a few tips to help would-be sellers create that emotional magic with their own homes.

A recent study surveyed thousands of homebuyers to determine what made them “fall in love” with a house. Photo: Stocksy

A knockout front door

Love at first sight must happen with homes, too, because this was No.1 on the Kiplinger list. We all know that first impressions count, and the front door is a key part of making one. It should stand out from the crowd, and give the potential buyer a sense of what they’ll find on the other side.

The easiest fix is to paint the door a bright but complementary colour, or stain a wood door to match the porch railing or hardwood floors just inside. Potted plants will add a punch of colour – and go for fewer, larger pots for the most visual impact.

You also might want to consider a door style out of the ordinary. Perhaps a Dutch door, double doors with transom windows, or an antique door. Any style can offer an opportunity for you to try a paint colour that brings a smile to your face as you enter.

Sky-high ceilings

Once inside the home, high ceilings are high on the list of wow-inducing features.

How can you capture the magic if you haven’t got them? The big fix, of course, would be a remodel — by vaulting the ceiling or knocking down a wall. But if that’s out of the question, paint your entry white, ceiling and all.

Another tip is to position art slightly lower to give the illusion of high ceilings and a sense of spaciousness. Or, using the same concept, try hanging a mirror so that a window can be reflected in it.

Some decorators suggest hanging curtains as close to the ceiling as possible, and letting the fabric hang down to the floor. The strong vertical line will visually expand the height of the room.

If your home is on the market, there are clever ways to bring the impression of light and space into the interior. Photo: istock

Standing out in a sea of sameness

Drive through the outskirts of your closest major city and you’ll notice residential developments are expanding at an ever-increasing pace. Turn into the streets of those new neighbourhoods, and it’s soon apparent that all the houses look (more or less) the same.

And that’s to be expected. But once you move in, or if you’re thinking about selling, you’ll probably want your house to stand out from the crowd.

If you find yourself living in a home that looks like every third house on the street, the first plan of action should be to paint the house, the trim, and the front door with three complementary colours. Head to the paint section of any home improvement store, and you’ll find a raft of brochures with colour schemes. Then add features like flower boxes, new light fixtures, and updated house numbers.

In a residential development, you’ll want to make your house stands out from the crowd. Home buyers are looking for something with a point of difference. Photo: istock

Good bones – and major potential

In today’s economic climate, few buyers can afford to purchase a house that is exactly the way they want it. Fixer-uppers are the norm, and in many cases the opportunity to take on a project is part of the excitement of buying a home.

According to the Kiplinger study, most homebuyers wanted a home that was done enough to live in, but with plenty of opportunity to make improvements and make it their own.

“Good bones” is a phrase we often hear ascribed to an older home, but what does that mean?

Simply put, “good bones” means that with some TLC and cosmetic changes, the house will have the charm and character you want because it has started with all the foundational elements you need. While old homes tend to naturally have this character, newer homes can have it, too – so if you’re on the hunt for your next home, keep your eyes peeled wherever you go.

Kathleen Kinney

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