Home "Upgrades" That Buyers Don't Actually Want

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Home "Upgrades" That Buyers Don't Actually Want
Article Excerpt

Not all home improvements appeal to homebuyers. A survey asked about the features that homebuyers most and least want to see. Here are the bottom ten.

When people look for a home to buy, they have a list of features that they must have, along with some features that they absolutely do not want to see. Some homebuyers might not know what their own “dealbreakers” are until they actually see them while looking at houses. It can be hard for homeowners to know whether something about their house might not appeal to most homebuyers.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has made an effort to address the question of what homebuyers don’t want in their 2021 edition of What Home Buyers Really Want. A survey of thousands of potential homebuyers offers some ideas of what people might least want in a home.

What is the NAHB survey?

The NAHB surveyed more than 3,200 “recent and prospective home buyers” during the summer of 2020. The survey presented respondents with more than two hundred home features. It asked them to choose whether they would want each feature or not. The NAHB tracked the features that ranked highest and the ones that ranked lowest.

What do homebuyers not want?

The report of the NAHB survey results lists the ten “most unwanted” from the list of more than two hundred home home features. The least-wanted feature, an elevator, was rejected by 56% of survey respondents. “Dual toilets in primary bath” came in tenth, with 40% of respondents saying that they wouldn’t want that in their home.


Elevators are a necessity in many tall buildings, but a luxury in most homes. They are expensive to install and maintain, and they take up more space than you might think. In addition to needing a vertical column from the lowest to the highest floor, most elevators also extend below the lowest floor. An elevator needs a buffer area in case a cable breaks. That area may also house much of the machinery that operates the elevator.

girl pushing an elevator button

Photo by MART PRODUCTION from Pexels

While people with mobility impairments might benefit from having an elevator in a multi-story home, other less obtrusive options are available. Stair lifts, for example, can be installed on the wall alongside the stairs.

Glass Wall(s)

Giant windows can add to a home’s aesthetic appeal on both sides, making the home itself look appealing and giving the people inside some great views. Glass partitions inside the house can also add aesthetic value. Improving a home’s looks might be the only benefit they provide, though.

Glass is expensive. A single pane can cost $3 to $12 per square foot, not including labor costs for installation. This adds up quickly for regular-sized windows. A glass wall that’s, say, 10’ wide x 8’ tall would need to be thicker than single-pane. If it’s double-pane that’s almost $2,000 in material costs alone, and that’s a very conservative estimate.

glass wall in modern living room

Photo by Max Vakhtbovych from Pexels

Glass is also more fragile than most other building materials, so it is much more prone to damage. It also can’t bear weight, so a glass wall inside a house will require careful — and expensive — design to make sure other walls can bear enough load.

Daycare Center

Fifty percent of survey respondents do not want a daycare center in their home. That seems reasonable. A daycare center requires a license from the state, along with various other expenditures before it could even begin operating.

Wine Cellar

Generally speaking, Texas homes are not known for having basements or cellars. Wine cellars in Texas therefore tend to be above ground, which means they might need additional measures to maintain temperature and humidity. Aside from avid oenophiles with enviable wine collections, few people seek out homes with wine cellars.

wine bottles in a wine cellar

Pet Washing Station

Entire businesses exist whose sole purpose is to provide a place for dog owners to wash their pets. These businesses provide large stainless steel wash basins, shower hoses, and various supplies. Perhaps most importantly, they provide customers with waterproof aprons, and the floors have drains.

dog bath

Photo by Benjamin Lehman from Pexels

An ordinary bathtub simply cannot compete with what these businesses offer when it’s time to wash a dog. A dog-washing station for your home could cost upwards of $1,200. Plus, you’d need a water supply and drainage. For the total expense, you could take your dog to one of those businesses many dozens of times.

Roof Partially/Completely Covered by Plants

It is not clear whether the NAHB is referring to rooftop gardens or green roofs. Rooftop gardens are fairly common in densely populated cities, but they require a flat roof with easy access. Most single-family homes in Texas offer neither.

green roof

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

Green roofs also tend to work best on flat surfaces. They can provide insulation to a building, along with other benefits, but maintaining one would be a major investment of time and resources for residents of a house.

Golf Course

A golf course requires multiple acres of land with carefully tended grass and other features. Even a small course, or just a putting green, will need a great deal of attention. Few homeowners, if any, want to take on a responsibility like that.

In-law Suite

The term “in-law suite” refers to an apartment space located on the same property as a single-family home. It could be a separate structure or attached to the main house. A typical suite has its own entrance, as well as a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and living space.

The cost of adding an in-law suite could range from around $30,000 to over $100,000, depending on how fancy you want it to be. It could serve as a rental property or a guest house. Its inclusion on this list might reflect the additional maintenance it would require.

Cork Flooring in Main Living Area

Cork is a sustainable flooring material that can last decades if maintained properly. It offers some benefits, such as insulation and sound dampening. It is not particularly expensive, and aside from the risk of scratches, not difficult to maintain.

The main drawbacks of cork involve its softness. A cork floor will not look or feel like a traditional hardwood floor. Heavy weight will cause it to dimple, not unlike carpet.

Dual Toilets in Primary Bath

Thirty years ago, having dual toilets was the subject of a Saturday Night Live sketch. Two sinks in the primary bathroom have been a common feature for some time, but dual toilets are new.

There is something to be said for each partner having a toilet personalized to their preferences. There is also something to be said for only having one toilet to clean in each bathroom.

Make a worthy investment!

Buying a home is a time-honored investment for you and your family. While these features may not be on your “must-have” list, we’re sure there’s a home out there for you!

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