Now that 2023 has arrived, mortgage rates are beginning to stabilize, and inflation is curbing, would-be homeowners are starting to warm up to the idea of buying a home. But even with prices softening, market conditions are still putting housing prices at a premium. As a result, homebuyers are looking for homes that will give them the most for their dollar.
To help would-be homebuyers get the most out of their new homes this year, we compiled this list of the hottest features for homes in 2023. From revitalized outdoor rooms to innovative smart home systems, we look at what a homebuyer should prioritize on their 2023 homebuying checklist.
What Is a Homebuying Checklist?
A homebuying checklist, or house-hunting checklist, is a budgeting tool used by a homebuyer to help them find the perfect home. This checklist contains specific home features desired by the homeowner, split into specific categories like “indoors,” “outdoors,” “installations,” and “home area.” Checklist features can include a wide range of items, from specific installations like “granite countertops” to more abstract things like “great views.” Generally, a good homebuying checklist will detail specific preferences for each feature, with options like “want,” “need,” and “must have.”
When making a homebuying checklist, you should consider personal preferences and what will add value to the property. For example, features like solar panels, hardwood floors, and security systems almost always increase the resale value of a home. When creating a checklist, it’s best to prioritize these features over those based on personal preference.
Outdoor Home Features
The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown have changed how Americans view and utilize their homes. Combining this with the increasing popularity of work from home positions, homeowners are spending more time at home now than ever. As such, many have begun to create multipurpose outdoor rooms that bring the wilderness and the rest of the world to them.
According to data released by Zillow, homes with backyards were mentioned 22% more in listings in 2022 than in 2021. The backyard has been considered a secondary or more minor feature for many years but has exploded in popularity since the pandemic. Large, expansive backyards allow homeowners to encapsulate the outside world and bring it to their homes. Outdoor spaces that serve multiple functions, like open-air rooms or covered patios, are especially favored.
Probuilder and The New Home Trends Institute’s study stated that “52% of architectural designers are designing outdoor spaces differently due to the pandemic.” Specifically, designers and homeowners are prioritizing backyard spaces that offer utility and purpose alongside calming scenic areas. According to the study, the following features were the most common in 2021:
- Open or outdoor air rooms
- Front and wraparound porches
- Open yards
Zillow’s data study showed that homes with pools were mentioned 11% more in 2022. Furthermore, another study conducted by RubyHome Luxury Real Estate shows that the residential pool market jumped up 32% in 2022 compared to 2020. However, keep in mind that in 2020 the swimming pool industry plummeted due to the pandemic, so the recent resurgence is more of a rebound than a massive boom in growth. But, when looking at the larger dataset, the American swimming pool industry has been steadily increasing each year, except for the 2020 dip.
It’s clear that pools, despite some pandemic-related difficulties, are still popular among American homeowners. We also suspect that with the increased interest in backyards, pools will continue to be popular in 2023, and Zillow’s data supports this. Furthermore, pools can be a valuable investment real estate-wise, depending on your area. States that value pool ownership, such as Florida and California, see an average 7% increase in the value for homes possessing pools.
Indoor Home Features
As homeowners go into 2023 and new groups like millennials and Gen Zers enter the market, we’ve seen several notable shifts in buyer preferences. Most of these reflect an interest in function and comfort, with purposeful, cozy spaces leading the forefront. These trends will then, in turn, place increased value on any feature that further optimizes space and increases efficiency.
Kitchens and Islands
Over the last half-decade, the rumor has been that the kitchen island was a dying trend, which was mostly true. However, this trend has noticeably reversed in recent years, and now islands are not only back, but they’re more popular than before.
Kitchen islands used to function as a distinct part of the kitchen that was a direct extension of the countertop, but not anymore. Now, islands serve a more versatile purpose, acting as a cooking space, entertainment station, bar, and homework area. Functionally, it works as a second kitchen table, serving whatever need pops up. According to Zillow, home listings that mentioned kitchen islands were up nearly 20% in 2022 and are expected to only grow in 2023, with Kerrie Kelly, creative director at Kerrie Kelly Design, stating:
“As we redefine the spaces in our homes, kitchen islands are being designed to accommodate dining and entertaining activities in the kitchen rather than the formal dining room. In 2023, we will see a surge of larger and even double kitchen islands using unique colors and materials.”
Mirror walls were popularized in the 1970s and 1980s but have made a glamorous comeback in recent years. We suspect this feature’s recent popularity is another pandemic-related response to homeowners being stuck indoors. After all, what better way to make a small, dark room feel brighter and larger than a nice, reflective mirror wall?
Today, you can find mirror walls in bedrooms, living rooms, home offices, and even as dividing walls. They range from a small scattering of mirrors positioned behind a workspace to full-on installations. Since their growing popularity, both designers and at-home DIYers have taken notice.
Home Tech and Eco-friendly Features
With the rapid rise of utility costs over the last few years, it’s no surprise that homeowners are looking for ways to cut down on electricity. Everything from smart home systems that turn off lights when not in use to solar power systems has seen rapid growth in popularity.
Projections show that green technology, especially solar power, is set to grow in accessibility and see more widespread application in 2023. As a result, any energy-saving feature should be a must-have on a homebuying checklist, as they’ll save you money in the long run and add to your home’s resale value.
Out of all the tech and eco-saving features to invest in, solar power is easily the safest option for most homeowners. With the revamp of the Federal Solar Tax Credit, homeowners can continue to finance their solar power systems. Even better, additional features like solar batteries are also eligible for tax credits, making them an even more attractive investment option.
According to Zillow, solar panels will add about 4% to your home’s total value, making them a decent investment on a pure real estate level. But the major advantage is the money solar panels can save you on electricity bills, which is, on average, around $2,200 annually.
Smart Home Systems
Smart home systems continue to grow in popularity amongst homeowners as their technology develops and becomes more affordable. Since smart home technology is diverse, predicting which elements will grow in popularity is challenging. But any system that adds convenience, security, or long-term cost saving is typically a safe bet.
As it stands, the home automation industry is set to grow by 11% to 13% in the U.S. market in 2023, with home security, video entertainment, smart speakers, and smart lighting being some of the most popular choices.
Final Home Feature Speculations for 2023
While there are plenty of potential great features to add to your homebuying checklist, the options presented here are some of the hottest choices for 2023. Specifically, anything that offers long-term utility while providing strong resale value is ideal, such as pools, kitchen islands, and solar power systems.
We find it fascinating to see how much of an impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our current and future homebuying market. The pandemic, perhaps more accurately, the following lockdown, forced homeowners to view their homes in a new light. As a result, many of the most popular home features today reflect increasing home utility, comfort, and convenience.