We have all seen homebuyers on any number of television shows with a laundry list of amenities they absolutely insist on for their new home. From the size of the house to the finishings, people on the TV can seem pretty particular.
People in real life can be just as dead set on certain features, too. But are they all really necessary? Some real estate professionals offer insight into what most homebuyers could do without.
1. Media Rooms
Not long ago, having a room dedicated to watching movies or television on a grand theater-style screen was a big status symbol coveted by many. Everybody wanted a place for a couple of rows of comfortable lounge chairs, a top-notch sound system, and maybe a little kitchenette for their favorite snacks.
These specialty rooms are still on some buyers’ wish lists, but don’t let the lack of one stop you from selecting an otherwise perfect home. These days, technology can turn any room you choose into a media room.
“A pre-wired setup or a very specific room for just media is rather posh,” says Tim Zabawa, a broker associate with Rogers Healy and Associates Real Estate in Dallas. ”So many wireless options are available that hard wiring is not necessary anymore.”
2. Open Concept Floor Plans
Fewer walls can definitely make a home look larger than its actual footprint, and that makes this layout very popular. Erin Coker, a Realtor with Johnny Walker Realty in Atlanta, cautions people shopping for a new home to think through what an open plan means.
“While everyone is going to open concept (owners who are remodeling, builders, and flippers), I think people will eventually get sick of this layout,” she says. “With open concept homes, it is difficult to create separate living spaces and decorate them as such. Also, with open floor plans, it can be a challenge when entertaining. Think of it this way: If you are hosting guests, you are always staring at dishes in the sink, stuff on the countertops, and clutter is always in sight! So unless you tend to keep things neat and tidy, this can become a pain. Also, all the homes with this floor plan are starting to look the same - there is no uniqueness or character to these homes.”
Zabawa also sees the trend waning. “Some hallways and room delineations are suitable in this market,” he says.
The open concept trend many times aligns with a buyer’s desire for open shelving in the kitchen. It looks good on TV, right? But maybe not in a real home with real people. “Instagram makes open shelving look beautiful, but in reality, you get less storage and can only display decorative dishes on them. This is no place for your plastic cups from the ballgame,” says Coker.
3. Marble Counters
Buyers spend a lot of time thinking about their kitchen counters. Builders generally used regular laminate for these and called it done, but then came granite, marble, and quartz. Once found only in mansions and chic condos favored by the wealthy, these stony materials have become more mainstream as the supply chain has opened up over the years.
Granite is still king of counters, but marble definitely has an ardent following and, for some buyers, nothing else will do. Yes, these stone countertops are beautiful and durable, but, with marble, there are a few factors to consider before you get your heart set. First, there is the cost. Marble is pricey, and these days you can get a similar look for much less.
And then there is the maintenance. “They stain easily--not the best choice for families with children (or messy adults),” says Coker. “They are beautiful but fussy to maintain.”
4. Bathtubs for Everyone
A good, hot, soaking bath does wonders for the soul, so it might be tempting to want one in every bathroom in the house. But should you cross a place off your list if it’s showers only?
“Certainly, a tub is necessary in at least one bathroom,” says Zabawa.
If you have small children, yes, tubs are a requirement. But, if not, think about how often you really take the time for one. Showers are standard for most people, so try not to get hung up on a feature you might not even use very often.
5. Telephone Landlines
Another amenity that is becoming less important is multiple dedicated phone lines. Having a phone in every bedroom used to be a luxury—especially if you have teenagers—but, these days, it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.
“Telephone landlines are basically obsolete these days or only installed in the kitchen and maybe primary bedroom,” says Zabawa. More and more people use their mobile phones exclusively. Unless you need a landline for your Internet service, don’t sweat a single outlet.
So if you are in the market for a new home, write down your must-haves, and then give them another look. Consider why you have your heart set on each feature. Does it provide a function that your family needs and will use? Is it a personal preference that you could add later if you choose? You might be surprised by how many "absolute must" become the “nice to have” amenities, which widens up your home search to all new possibilities.