Real estate broker and author Mark Nash reveals what home buyers crave and what they will run from in 2006. His findings come from his dealings with clients who have homes at price points ranging from $300,000 to $2 million in the Chicago market, but he notes that many agents in his network from major metro areas around the country have validated his perspective.

Homeowners prefer: the shower component, like the Bain Ultra Temazkal shown, to be separate from the bathtub ...
Bain Ultra Homeowners prefer: the shower component, like the Bain Ultra Temazkal shown, to be separate from the bathtub ...

What's In

  • Separate shower stalls and bathtubs in master baths
  • Quality kitchen cabinets with a furniture-style look
  • Bamboo wood floors (overtaking maple in popularity)
  • Wall space for flat screen TVs, particularly above the fireplace
  • Multiple and high-powered phone lines and built-in home stereo systems
  • Ranch or one-level homes — baby boomers, in particular, are discovering their utility
  • Second homes — with baby boomers keeping this segment strong. (Demand for second homes was still on the upside in 2005, but if primary home demand weakens, historically, the second home market will follow.)

What's Out

  • Ebony-stained hardwood floors
  • Dark rooms with small windows
  • Wallpaper — take it down and paint
  • Builder-grade light fixtures and interior fixtures used outside; the right fixtures say “quality” to buyers
  • Mirrored backsplashes; mirrored walls and ceilings say “1980s hedonism”
  • Commitment (strong, bold, trendy) colors. They look great in magazines, but as one buyer said, “I don't live in a magazine.”
  • Gas grills that need their own tanks — buyers prefer the gas piped from the house
  • Dropped ceilings — buyers want as much vertical space as possible

... and quality kitchen cabinets with a furniture-style look, like these from Berkeley Mills.
Berkeley Mills ... and quality kitchen cabinets with a furniture-style look, like these from Berkeley Mills.

On the Way Out

  • Stainless steel appliances — the cleaning requirements aren't for everyone
  • Laminate flooring that looks like hardwood. Not only can buyers tell it's not wood, but the noise it makes with high-heel shoes is the deal-killer during property showings.

Mark Nash's fourth book is 1001 Tips for Buying and Selling a Home. Reach him at 773.728.8210, www.marknashrealtor.com.