The housing market has been booSTW Sidingming within the last few months, and it seems to have especially skyrocketed in Texas. Economists claim that the recession that began in 2008 actually didn’t hit Texas as fast or as hard as it did in other states. Today, the housing markets in many Texas cities are doing better than they were before the recession – and even before the oil boom in the 1980s. Even more promising news is that, in places like Dallas and Houston, the median home value has risen 14-15% within the last year.

The strong housing market came on so suddenly that previously dormant home builders and contractors were not prepared to keep up with the new demand in housing. Now, home buyers who need to buy, sell and move as soon as possible have to compromise by purchasing previously-owned homes. And, many of those will be old and outdated.

That’s where remodeling comes in. It gives homeowners who want to sell their home an advantage. Wes Womack of Womack Real Estate in Austin gave us insight into what home buyers are looking for in his area.

Location is the #1 Factor

A home’s location is the first deciding factor when people are looking for a new home. Working families want to live near their workplace to cut down of on their daily commutes. In major cities like Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio, finding a prime home location is fairly easy, especially since these cities are where the housing market is doing the best. Most homeowners with houses on the market who live outside city limits will find it harder to sell their homes in the future.

In addition to a short work commute, families will look for prime locations in great public school districts, the possibility of being close to downtown, and a safe, family-friendly neighborhood.  Potential home buyers will likely have children, or they could be empty-nesters who wish to have a fun and safe location for their grandchildren to visit. Young neighborhoods with several families and children that play in the yard are prime examples of a safe and fun neighborhood.

Other factors that contribute to a great potential home are proximity to local transportation, nearby shopping, and a fun, eclectic feel to the area. Austin is known for its live music scene, and Dallas has budding art and cultural districts.

People are looking for homes that are practical, as well. The days of expansive homes and excess are over, especially since the housing collapse has made home buyers more cautious about what they buy.  Womack believes that all these requirements and desires are realistic, but it all depends on the price range. Therefore, it is important for homeowners to do their research and make lists of the essential things they require in a new home.

When asked what the strangest thing he has ever heard a potential homeowner request, Womack said, “This didn't happen to me, but a co-worker had a client who specifically wanted a house that was known to be haunted!  I'm told that they actually found one, too!”

Move in Ready

Home buyers in the past have been willing to buy a cheaper home and fix it up themselves over the years that they live there. This trend isn’t as big as it used to be. Now, many homeowners are looking for major portions of their homes, such as the kitchen and bathroom, to be renovated and move-in ready. Homeowners can update these features themselves, but you can bet that if you try to sell your home without these rooms updated, you’ll have a hard time finding a willing buyer. Statewide Remodeling spoke to Scott Vann, an independent Plano Realtor, who knows exactly what buyers are looking for and what sellers should do about it.

Updated Kitchens If you are doing a kitchen remodel in order to sell your home, it’s important to remember that your style might not be someone else’s style. But, upgraded is always “in.” Redo old counter tops in sleek granite, a stone that helps increase the ROI on your entire remodel. It’s considered a “must have” for many home buyers. Also, stainless steel appliances are considered to be a classic look, and buyer’s eyes light up at just the mention of living in a home fitted with sleek technology.

Houzz 2013 Remodeling Research

Updated Bathrooms

A remodeled bathroom has the second highest ROI that a homeowner can earn, and they are another must-have for home buyers. Your bathroom is another area in your home where stone can do a lot to catch a buyer’s attention. That being said, if you have carpet in your bathroom, pull it out immediately. It is unsanitary and will cause visitors to run the other way. Home buyers are also looking for luxurious showers. Large sleek bathtubs are nice, but not every homeowner cares to take a bath. Home improvements should focus on expanding small or tight showers and outfitting them with jets, shelves and nooks for bath products, and a place to sit as an added feature

Upgrades that last

New and veteran homebuyers are looking for a home that won’t require much improvement on their end for many years. Plus, who has the time, anyway? That is why buyers prefer matching hardwood floors versus laminate throughout the home. The only place carpet is generally accepted is in the bedrooms. Also, popcorn ceilings, a popular feature in old homes, can crack, fall and collect dust easily – get rid of them when and where you can.

Lastly, homebuyers are looking for energy-efficient homes, especially in Texas where beating the heat cheaply can save a lot of money. Mr. Vann mentions that, “For most buyers, [energy efficiency] falls into second place behind all the cosmetic issues. But it is on the rise, and, in my opinion, more important than the others. Lack of energy efficient replacement windows and HVAC systems probably won't keep your home from selling. But, more and more buyers are taking them into consideration when they make an offer, knowing they will have to lay out the cash to replace them.”

Have you been trying to sell your home but can’t get an offer? You may need to upgrade your kitchen or bathroom. Contact a home remodeling professional today to get started!