There’s more to a home than an ideal location and an affordable price, and today’s homebuyers know that all too well. The perfect home must be close to our workplaces, and also reasonably close to entertainment venues; it should have enough space to meet our needs; and last but not least, the perfect home should have the features and amenities that buyers nowadays deemed to be must-haves.
And these factors tend to be more consistent among home seekers across Canada than anyone would expect. We reached that conclusion after analyzing homebuyers’ behaviour on our platform and talking to agents who use Point2 Homes products, to see which home features and amenities are the most popular among Canadian homebuyers. Check out our key findings:
- Although prospective homebuyers have many wants and needs, in the end price reigns supreme: properties under $100,000 were twice as popular as properties in any other price range.
- Cities like Saskatoon and Regina, SK and Windsor and Ottawa, ON boast the highest numbers of buyers opting for properties in the lowest price range.
- Home seekers were most interested in 2-bedroom condos, and in properties with 1.5 bathrooms.
- As for homebuyers’ preferred amenities, there are some surprises: while they are not particularly moved by mountain views, many Canadians will pay extra for a nice water view.
- Although they don’t start as must-haves, pools and fireplaces really make a difference: properties boasting these amenities were more in demand than properties without them.
- Being able to find out as much as possible about a property in as little time as possible is highly valued by the modern home buyer: buyers tend to contact properties that display 6 to 15 photos and very short descriptions.
Properties in the Lowest Price Range Are All the Rage
Owning a home is great, but the price must be right. This is true especially for first-time homebuyers, but also for almost any home seeker who doesn’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars just lying around. Price, along with the property’s location and floor-plan are among the few areas where no one is willing to make too many compromises.
And our findings support the idea that affordable prices are a must. When examining the homes in all the available price ranges, our analysts discovered that properties under $100,000 are the most sought after. These homes not only attract more views than properties in any other price range, but also more actual interest that materializes into a buy; in fact, people are 233% more likely to opt for a home under $100K – when properties are available at such low prices – than for a home in any other price range.
Saskatoon and Windsor Most Competitive Markets in Affordable Sector
Given how budget-conscious buyers have to be nowadays, homes in the lowest price range get all the attention. And as we all know, when everyone wants the same thing, competition gets pretty extreme. This is why cities with a robust affordable inventory become real hot markets for anyone looking to buy property for the first time or buyers who simply don’t want to overpay.
The cities where demand for properties under $100,000 is the highest are Saskatoon and Regina, SK, and in the third place, Winnipeg, MB. But then again, these are all cities where buyers can find properties in this price range. Only in more affordable markets do buyers have this option.
In pricier real estate markets, ‘most affordable homes for sale’ means homes in the $100K-$200K range. Take, for example, Windsor and Ottawa, ON, and Halifax, NS: the cheapest properties are still the most in demand, but buyers adapt to market requirements and available inventory. This means prospective homebuyers will mostly stay in the higher, $100K-$200K price range, but only because that is the most affordable option in the city where they live.
Charm Pricing Doesn’t Entice the Money-Conscious Buyer
Psychological pricing, also known as “charm pricing,” is a price-setting technique that involves lowering the price just below the nearest round number, in order to make it seem lower at first sight. According to Thomas and Morwitz’s 2005 research, “nine-ending prices will be perceived to be smaller than a price one cent higher” if the left-most digit changes to a lower level (e.g., $3.00 to $2.99).
While this technique is widely-used in restaurants, supermarkets and retail stores, for prospective homebuyers, charm prices do not work like a charm. A real estate agent’s insight offers a compelling explanation:
Homebuyers are so much better educated and informed today and often know area value ranges before they put in an offer, especially if they are working with an experienced agent. It all starts with what is perceived to be good value for a property in a particular area as determined by supply and demand.
Condos Are Good, but 2-Bedroom Condos Are the Best
Regarding home types, our analysis reveals that people love to look at houses, but they prefer to buy condos. One of the main reasons is probably the price, which is more appealing both to first-time buyers and to downsizers: houses might get 7% more views, but it is condos that prospective home buyers find more attractive.
Since density has become the name of the game, with more and more people migrating towards urban spaces that provide ample professional opportunities, stacked townhouses and especially condos are more in demand than ever. And although 3-bedroom properties have the highest number of views, it is 2-bedroom condos that most Canadian homebuyers opt for in the end.
Furthermore, properties with 1.5 bathrooms are the most sought after. Homes with 2 bathrooms and up also mean more bedrooms and higher prices, which for the first-time homebuyers might not be an option.
A Modern Kitchen in an Updated Home Is a Must…
With home prices at their least affordable levels in three decades, homebuyers have little choice but to be more practical and cost-conscious. This is why an updated kitchen and a modernized bathroom are high on their must-have list. Since most of their savings have to go towards a down payment and maybe basic furnishings, there is very little left for costly remodeling projects.
Moreover, the shift in preferences that real estate professionals started noticing a few years ago is still going strong: young buyers, who probably represent the majority of home buyers, want modern, open dining spaces. The younger generation tends to prefer a space that flows rather than a compartmentalized home – this makes social interactions easier and more fun.
… But a Pool or a Fireplace Are Also Nice to Have
One of our more surprising findings has to do with what’s outside a home rather than inside. Canadian home buyers are not very attracted to properties that offer gorgeous mountain views. They are, however, willing to pay more to be able to enjoy a water view. People love the peace and calm that come with homes overlooking a lake, or the ocean, so properties near the water are extremely desirable.
However, they are also more challenging to build and therefore in shorter supply. So, if you are really looking forward to buying a home near a lake or on the coast, your options shrink considerably. But given how Canadians are known for their love for swimming, the next best thing, a home with a pool, might just do the trick. Although more expensive, home seekers show more interest in properties with a pool compared to homes without one.
Synonymous with coziness and relaxation, another desirable amenity on Canadian homebuyers’ lists is the fireplace. Our analysts discovered that this home feature definitely has an impact on buyers’ behaviour: we love looking at homes with fireplaces, which tend to evoke peaceful evenings at home gathered around the hearth, and buyers also have a slight preference for homes that have this lovely feature.
Last but Not Least, Buyers Like It Short and Sweet
With 9 in 10 prospective homebuyers relying on the Internet as one of their primary research sources, it is no wonder photos are as vital as they are. Homebuyers need to know if a property is worth considering before going further. According to our analysis, properties displaying 6 to 15 photos are preferred by most people who roam the Net looking for the perfect home. This range offers a great balance: homebuyers get an idea about the property, but the photos don’t replace the need for a viewing.
Properties with no photos are the least popular. This is probably because homebuyers are put off by the idea of not knowing anything at all about the floor plan, the general condition of the property, or its potential issues.
Also, our analysts discovered that homebuyers were most interested in properties that have very short descriptions. How short? At a maximum of 250 characters, homebuyers’ preferred home descriptions are shorter than a Twitter message. And that makes total sense. In a world where there is so much information and so many housing options, it can be frustrating to sift through long-winded descriptions and dozens of photos just to realize you don’t even like the property.
One of the surveyed agents explained how much photos and descriptions matter, and what will actually impress a homebuyer:
It’s not so much about features but how everything is presented that matters. Poor presentation or mediocre photography bring mediocre results.
Many of the amenities and features buyers have in mind when they start the homebuying process might change or even disappear off their list as new information factors in. This is why it’s important to develop a ‘wants and needs’ list early in the process. This way, you’ll know which features of your dream home are essential and where there’s room for some compromises.
- Point2 Homes analyzed homebuyers’ behaviour on the portal, looking at the properties available and comparing the number of inquiries generated by properties with different features and amenities.
- The survey conducted by Point2 Homes was done with real estate professionals who use the platform’s services.
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