home buying in a recession

How Home Buying and Selling has Changed in the Recession

The phrases “cutting back,” “downgrading” and “settling” seem to be all too common at home, work and across the media today. While scaling back on shopping and staying in for dinner several nights a week have become the norm for many, Coldwell Banker Real Estate wondered if the same held true for homebuyers and their home buying “must haves.”

In the past, conventional must-haves often included a spacious kitchen, beautiful backyard for entertaining and, for many, an open floor plan. But with the turn of the economy, people have been reevaluating what the true value of a home is.

The idea of home has shifted

There has been a definite shift in the emotional value homeowners and buyers are placing on their homes. This shift is critical as we return to the idea of home serving as an investment in our lifestyles, where the emotional and psychological benefits are of at least equal value to the pure economic investment.

This change was clearly demonstrated in a recent survey of more than 600 Coldwell Banker Real Estate professionals in the United States that revealed home buyers and sellers are adjusting expectations and “getting real” about real estate in 2012.

Sellers working harder to entice buyers

More than half (51 percent) reported sellers are more willing to price their homes more competitively than this time last year, and 45 percent said sellers are more willing to change the appearance of their homes to entice buyers than they were one year ago.

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.
  • 78 percent agree clients are willing to de-personalize the home.
  • 59 percent say sellers are even bringing in new home decorations or furniture to help make the home more appealing.

“De-personalizing and making it easy for a buyer to imagine him or herself living in the property is crucial, especially when there are many homes on the market,” says Jessica Edwards, Coldwell Banker Real Estate Consumer Specialist. “Within the past year, sellers were more willing to price their homes competitively and took my advice to make their home inviting and appealing to a broad cross-section of potential buyers.”

Home buying preferences go back to basics

Sellers, take note: when it comes to selecting a home, buyers are going back to the basics.  They’re putting renewed priority on classic demands: new or updated kitchens and bathrooms, and open floor plans:

  • 33 percent of surveyed agents say a new/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.

Are you considering buying a home? How has the recession altered the features that are important to you?


Guest blogger Lindsay Listanski is the social media manager for Coldwell Banker Real Estate, a leader in full service real estate sales.

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