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Insights: POV

What’s really hitting home?

Five things I learned while shopping for a house.

Back in August, my wife and I decided that it was time to move. The small Cape Cod home that had been perfect for us 10 years ago was feeling cramped as our children (and their belongings) continued to grow. So we called our realtor, stuck a big sign in the yard and headed out to explore all the possibilities for our new home.

As someone whose career revolves around installed home products, I have a pretty good idea of the latest technologies and systems. So I was curious to see what real homeowners and builders were incorporating into their homes to appeal to potential buyers.

Over the course of about four months, we toured roughly 25 homes. These ran the gamut from brand-new construction to 70-year-old homes with recent renovations. Here’s what I observed:

Good Lord, those Nests are everywhere.

 

And for good reason. These highly-popular learning thermostats are an easy upgrade for homeowners and have a strong reputation for saving energy. They’re not necessarily new to the game — the first-gen units launched in 2012 — but it’s obvious that they’re still viewed as a valuable addition, as many home sellers even call the Nest out by name in their home descriptions.

Whole-home water filtration systems are more common than I expected.

 

Maybe this is a reflection of the city’s public water, or I’m moving into an area with incredibly hard water, but the overall number of whole-home water filtration systems surprised me. And I’m not talking about those smaller under-sink or reverse-osmosis water filters, I mean large water filtration systems with multiple tanks that I witnessed in several basements. I guess in my experience, I had always considered these to be luxury items that the majority of consumers were still unaware of, but obviously they’re more well-known than I thought.

Amazon Alexa and Google Home were nowhere to be found. Yet.

 

I realize that these are still relatively new technologies, but I anticipated that we would see at least some evidence of connected home products. Not so. Or, at the very least, home sellers did not want to leave their valuable technology sitting out for random members of Zillow nation to touch. Oh, well. I fully expect this trend to change in the coming months as this technology continues to weave itself into the fabric of our daily lives.

Front load washers and dryers are popular, but not pedestals for some reason.

 

This observation is definitely a result of my experience with appliances. I totally get why front-load laundry products — with their large capacities and less water usage — are so prevalent. But I can’t understand why so many people didn’t know or understand or value the addition of pedestals. By raising the pair a mere 13 inches, it would be significantly easier to change loads and fold clothes on top. Plus, pedestals typically provide additional storage space for laundry products, thereby eliminating messy laundry room shelves. So, yeah, I’m a fan of pedestals.

Most kitchens had mismatched appliance brands. And that didn’t bother me.

 

This one actually surprised me. In my career, I strive to instill brand loyalty among my clients’ consumers. As an actual homebuyer, I didn’t find myself put off by kitchens filled with different brands of products. From an appearance standpoint, it was key that all the finishes matched or complemented each other. But I got the impression that the homeowner had sought out and researched the product individually instead of simply purchasing a full suite of appliances. Since I knew that these were all quality brand names, I inherently believed that I was getting the best-of-the-best.

Now, as we prepare to move into our new home, it’s interesting to look back on our experience as homebuyers. Some of my expectations going in proved to be accurate, but I also gleaned several new insights from the process. All in all, I have a better, more personal understanding of what homebuyers are looking for, as well as new ideas to help our clients better position their installed home products.

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