Coldwell Banker survey finds Sellers are more willing to make changes to increase buyer appeal; Buyers prefer updated kitchens & open floor plans to trendy media rooms  

A recent survey of 700 Coldwell Banker Real Estate professionals across North America revealed home buyers are motivated by lifestyle needs, with growing families ranking as top motivator on both sides of the Canadian/U.S. border.  Meanwhile, sellers are becoming increasingly aware of the value of presenting a home with buyers appeal, and are becoming more willing to go the extra mile as they compete for buyers’ attention.


Sellers More Willing to De-clutter, De-personalize and Make Repairs

Of those Coldwell Banker professionals surveyed:

  • 94 percent say their sellers are getting rid of clutter and making cosmetic updates, such as fresh paint and minor repairs.  This percentage was the same for both Canadian and U.S. respondents
  • 60 percent of Canadian respondents agree that clients are willing to “de-personalize” the home.  This percentage was much higher in the challenging U.S. market, where 76 percent agree.
  • 59 percent of North American respondents say sellers are even bringing in new home decorations or furniture to help make the home more appealing.

When marketing your home, it’s important to help buyers imagine themselves living in the property. De-cluttering and de-personalizing is crucial to this process.  Sellers should recognize that while demand for homes remains strong in Canada, their home is still competing with other listings.  If a home is presented with a minimum of clutter and distracting personal items, it will appeal to buyers and improve the chance of a sale.

Buyer Preferences are ‘Back to the Basics’

Sellers, take note: when it comes to selecting a home, buyers are going back to the basics.  They value new or updated kitchens, bathrooms and open floor plans as the most important features for a new home.

  • 33 percent of agents surveyed across North America say that a new or updated kitchen is the most important feature to homebuyers.
  • 14 percent say the most important feature to homebuyers is an open floor plan, while 12 percent say it is a new or updated bathroom.
  • Only 1 percent of the real estate professionals surveyed say they believe that entertainment rooms or finished basements are the most important feature.

Home Buyers Moving for Babies and Careers

The survey also drilled down into which life events are motivating the most people to buy homes.  According to the Coldwell Banker Real Estate professionals surveyed, growing families is currently the biggest lifestyle driver for home buyers in both Canada and the United States.

70 percent of real estate professionals surveyed say a new baby or growing family is the “most common”, or a “very common” lifestyle reason that North American buyers search for a new home.  Other key motivators include:

  • Marriage – 59 percent.
  • Divorce – 48 percent.
  • Retirement – 37 percent.

While the majority of survey responses regarding buyer motivators were similar between Canada and United States, and although job reasons was the No. 2 reason overall across North America, there was one marked difference.  Fifty-five percent of Canadian respondents cited job reasons vs. 69 percent of respondents in the United States, where the economy and job market have endured recent downturns.

For most of us, while a home is probably our largest investment, the fact remains that people move for lifestyle reasons.  Regardless of market conditions, buying a home remains an investment in our lifestyles where the emotional and psychological benefits can hold equal value to the pure economic investment.

Canada vs. U.S. Pricing Variances

The survey also indicated a clear difference between the two countries when it came to sellers’ pricing strategies.  Unlike the stable Canadian real estate market, much of the U.S. market has been challenging for the past few years.  The Coldwell Banker survey indicates that U.S. sellers are ready to ‘get real’ about real estate.  In the United States, 51 percent of those agents surveyed said sellers were more willing to price their home competitively than at the same time last year, while in Canada only 31 percent of surveyed agents said their sellers were willing to do so.

Canada continues to enjoy a stable, balanced market, with near historic low interest rates, and a good inventory of homes for sale.  This supports demand for housing, and sellers are continuing to price their homes according to our healthy market conditions.