Today's Home Buyers Drawn to Clean, Bright and Move-in Ready Homes; Limited Listing Inventory Can Demand Compromise, RE/MAX Brokers Report

April 23, 2018

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CHICAGO, April 23, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Whether today’s homebuyers are young singles purchasing their first house or condominium, seniors downsizing for retirement or families moving up to a larger residence, many share a distinctive set of priorities, according to RE/MAX brokers.

One frequent preference, reported Jeff LaGrange, Vice President, RE/MAX Northern Illinois Region, is for a home requiring little if any renovation.

“Buyers are inclined to pay more and get a home that is essentially move-in ready, rather than pay less for a home they must fix up. Sweat equity doesn’t have the appeal it did 20 or 30 years ago,” he said.

A major reason for that change, contends Richard Raap, a broker with RE/MAX City, Chicago, is that “Most buyers today don’t have the time, energy or expertise to do serious remodeling. My two children are like that; they are married, and both their spouses work. There isn’t time in their schedules for dealing with much in the way of home remodeling.”

Another factor in the equation, according to LaGrange, is that today’s buyers often are short on cash because they must make a substantial down payment thanks to lending standards tightened after the housing crash.

“If buyers have $10,000 in savings after their down payment, the prospect of a $30,000 kitchen remodeling isn’t very appealing,” he said. “Choosing a home where that work has already been done effectively allows buyers to finance the remodeling through their mortgage at a relatively low interest rate, rather than having to use their savings.”

While buyers may want a home requiring little or no immediate work, the market realities don’t allow them to be inflexible, according to Kat Becker of RE/MAX Advantage Realty, Antioch, Ill.

“There’s a shortage of homes on the market these days, and the longer buyers spend searching, the more they begin to accept the reality that there are compromises they must make,” said Becker. “Buyers are most likely to compromise on things that are easy to fix down the road, such as adding hardwood flooring to a couple of rooms or replacing countertops or bathroom fixtures.”  

One result of buyers’ preference for homes needing little or no work is that brokers are urging sellers to invest more in their property before listing it.

“I’m more outspoken with my sellers about the value of thoroughly preparing their home for the market,” said Allyson Hoffman of RE/MAX Villager, Glenview, Ill.  “If they take $25,000 and spend it in the right places, they’ll get their money back and a good deal more, plus the home will sell considerably faster.”

Along with a home in great condition, many buyers today desire an open floor plan, lots of natural light, ceilings at least 9 feet high and a first-class kitchen, according to Paul Paterakis of RE/MAX Showcase, Long Grove, Ill. 

“Even buyers who don’t cook much want a kitchen that looks like an ‘after’ picture on HGTV,” Paterakis said.  “Some of the easiest sales I’ve had recently were homes with a great kitchen. They might be rather ordinary otherwise, but the kitchens sold the home.”

Also drawing more buyer attention these days, reports Mike Clendenning of RE/MAX Synergy, Orland Park, Ill., are certain financial considerations.

“Compared to my early years as a RE/MAX broker, today’s buyers are much more focused on the long-term value of their investment and the outlook for property taxes,” he said.

The concern for value stability is a lesson learned from the housing crash, he explained, while the sensitivity to property taxes is a response to the fiscal challenges currently facing many Illinois communities. The two issues are often intertwined because communities facing financial challenges can see property tax rates rise and home values fall.

Changing buyer priorities have made some homes harder to sell, contends Roger Rossi of RE/MAX Suburban, Wheaton, Ill.

“Buyers aren’t as interested in McMansion-style large homes as they were a few years ago, primarily because they don’t want the added operating costs involved,” Rossi said. “And there has been declining interest in older homes. Thirty years ago, a century-old Victorian was considered charming and quite desirable. Now, most buyers want all the modern conveniences and the open floor plan that Victorians often lack.”

RE/MAX Northern Illinois has been the leader in the northern Illinois real estate market since 1989 providing a full range of residential and commercial services. With more than 2,200 sales associates and 106 offices throughout the area, RE/MAX Northern Illinois has helped thousands of families with their home buying and selling needs. For more information, visit or download the Illinois Property mobile real estate app. 


James Nathan


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SOURCE RE/MAX Northern Illinois

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