Many buyers are asking for a handful of essentials. (Photo by Tribune News Services)

Many buyers are asking for a handful of essentials. (Photo by Tribune News Services)

Living Spaces: 4 must-have features homebuyers always look for

Today, first-time homebuyers have a more casual, laid-back lifestyle — and that’s reflected in their home search priorities. Less concerned about formal home design styles, soon-to-be homeowners aren’t necessarily looking for homes with a rigid layout.

Instead, topping their list of must-haves is the flexibility of high-tech features and extra spaces. The home’s appearance is also high-priority, with the use of natural textures and curb appeal commonly at the forefront of potential homeowners’ minds as they shop the real estate market.

Here are the essential features homebuyers are constantly asking for — and what you should look for when purchasing a home or prepping yours for sale.

1. Natural surfaces shine

Marble, concrete and wood are having a moment. Buyers are seeking out natural (and natural-looking) surfaces for every space—hardwood floors in the living area instead of covering the room in carpeting, natural stone countertops in kitchens and bathrooms. This preference extends to furniture and accessories too. The rich wood finishes characteristic to midcentury modern decor continue to be popular, for example.

2. Exteriors matter

Much like meeting a new person, a home needs to create a positive first impression to make you want to come back to it over and over. This means that exterior appearance is just as important as interior design (if not more so!). You want to feel content and happy to return to your home at the end of a long day, so making it visually pleasing is paramount. There are many things you can do to boost curb appeal, including projects as simple as painting the front door. Other tasks include adding attractive landscaping, ensuring pathways are well-lit, and performing regular maintenance on the roof and siding.

3. Bonus rooms appeal

Another item that’s hot on potential homebuyers’ lists? A spare room! Because it’s not set as a bathroom or bedroom, this extra space could be used for different purposes over time. Bonus rooms might end up as home offices, workout rooms or kids’ playrooms as your family’s needs change throughout the years. These versatile, multifunctional spaces provide the flexibility homebuyers are looking for in a home layout.

4. Tech tempts

A recent survey conducted by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate revealed something interesting about first-time homebuyers. Today, budding homeowners are excited about smart home features. They want to be able to lock doors, adjust the thermostat and turn on lights using voice commands or their smartphone while they’re away. Smart technology helps automate basic tasks, which means you have one less thing to worry about.

Better Homes and Gardens is a magazine and website devoted to ideas and improvement projects for your home and garden, plus recipes and entertaining ideas. Online at www.bhg.com.