During COVID, Luxury Kitchen Amenities Were Homebuyer Must-Haves in U.S.

During COVID, Luxury Kitchen Amenities Were Homebuyer Must-Haves in U.S.

Residential News » Seattle Edition | By WPJ Staff | March 15, 2021 8:05 AM ET

Based on new Zillow research U.S. buyers are willing to pay a premium for luxury kitchen amenities. From professional appliances to quartz countertops, six out of the top 10 features mentioned in listings that sold for more than expected in 2020 are kitchen-related.

Steam ovens were the hottest feature of the year, associated with a 4.9% premium -- more than any other home feature and style Zillow analyzed. The sale premium for steam ovens increased one percentage point from Zillow's analysis the year before, and jumped up 24 spots on the list.

"The life changes triggered by the pandemic have caused everyone to reconsider what's most important about their homes, and that's reflected in the shifting importance of home features measured by sale price premiums," says Zillow Home Trends Expert Amanda Pendleton. "It's clear that buyers were especially drawn to useful and beautiful kitchen features in 2020, even more than in a typical home shopping season."

Other kitchen features associated with a price premium include "new appliances" (3.2% higher sale price), and "smart appliances" (3%). Listings mentioning "open shelving," a trendy design feature made popular by home improvement TV shows, sold about six days faster than expected. Driven by the pandemic trend of dining in and entertaining at home, listings mentioning "pizza ovens" sell for 3.4% more than expected -- jumping 41 spots from last year to become the feature with the fourth highest price premium.

Beautiful and durable countertops continue to be a priority for homebuyers, with listings mentioning "quartz" selling for 3.2% more than expected. And the non-porous quality of quartz makes it more resistant to bacteria, making it a great choice to keep the kitchen as germ-free as possible. Similarly, "butcher block" was tied to a 2.7% sale premium, and listings mentioning Carrara marble sold five days quicker than expected.

"Consumers are always looking for ways to make the kitchen more functional, more organized, easy to clean and, of course, more beautiful. While adjusting to the new 'at home' lifestyle, we quickly learned what a hub of the home the kitchen really is," says Kerrie Kelly, Zillow home design expert. "New innovative appliances have brought additional smart features, while durability still holds high importance for beautiful hard working surfaces."

Buyers are also increasingly interested in creating a spa vibe at home through luxury bathroom amenities. Bathroom features that contributed a higher-than-expected sale are "curbless," as in showers with no barrier to step over (3.6%), and heated floors (3.2%). A free-standing bathtub came in just under the top 10 list of amenities, but still is associated with a 2.6% price premium.

"This research identifies the trending features buyers value during the pandemic. This spring home shopping season, sellers would be wise to flaunt those features in their listing description if they've got them," said Zillow senior economist Jeff Tucker. "It's important to mention that this research did not look at return on investment for these features. Instead, they should be viewed as signals that the home may be generally well-crafted and thoughtfully updated. For instance, if a home has a steam oven, it likely has other high-end finishes that buyers are willing to pay for."

There are many factors that contribute to a home's sale speed and final sale price, and the current hot housing market shows no signs of slowing down. For this analysis, Zillow looked at over 220 features or design elements that were mentioned in the listing descriptions of over one million homes sold in 2020.


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