Mood of the Market
Outdoor kitchens, spa bathrooms, heated driveways, and even office nooks and closet systems all fall within this realm. And so does location -- real estate consumers want their home's location to either make their life better (e.g., good schools, desirable neighborhood hot spots, beautiful natural surroundings, quiet neighbors) or easier (e.g., close to work or public transportation) or both.
Style and beauty: Generally speaking, housing consumers want their homes to help them live more beautiful lives. We seek out homes -- or we seek to add to our homes -- with a style that reflects who we think we are (or, more often, who we want to be).
This is aligned with de Botton's reference to homes as guardians of our identity. We want our home's aesthetics to either reflect or effect our own personal sense of what is beautiful, whether that be the wrought-iron curlicues and pink stucco or stark, modern minimalist concrete and wood, and to saturate our lives more deeply with that beauty, by living there.
To be clear, these are broad categories that contain our human, even American, wants in terms of the physical aspect of our homes for ourselves -- above and beyond the real estate characteristics we believe will create status or engender the envy of our friends. You know, the things every self-respecting celebrity real estate reporter relates by rote -- e.g., Cher's 9,000-square-foot Hawaiian hacienda.
The more you read Architectural Digest, the more obvious it will be to you that the higher end you go, things like architect, designer and extreme gadgetry also earn status and swanky real estate street "cred."
But while there may be a status element that factors into what we normal folk want from our homes, this is less and less important in the minds of today's homebuyers and even renters who -- if anything -- want to flaunt their frugality and the sustainability of their real estate decisions.
What do real estate consumers really want from their homes, outside of financial perks? They want their logistical problems solved and their lives made easier, more convenient and more beautiful. And that's a good standard for what makes a good home.
Tara-Nicholle Nelson is author of "The Savvy Woman's Homebuying Handbook" and "Trillion Dollar Women: Use Your Power to Make Buying and Remodeling Decisions." Tara is also the Consumer Ambassador and Educator for real estate listings search site Trulia.com. Ask her a real estate question online or visit her website, www.rethinkrealestate.com.
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