30 REALTOR® JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014 REALTORMAG.REALTOR.ORG
Want Most—and Get!
Median-price purchasers don’t expect kitchens fit for food stars, trickling waterfalls,
or fire pits. But they dream, too, and here’s what’s on their wish lists. BY BARBARA BALLINGER
Sales are robust again in many markets across the country, with the national median existing-home price topping $196,300 in November, up 9. 4 percent
from a year earlier, according to the National Association of
REALTORS®. But a single bold-faced dollar amount has only
limited usefulness for real estate practitioners and consumers
given the wide variation in job markets, housing inventory. and
Also varying by market is what buyers tend to seek in
square footage, room types, and outdoor living space. Specific
tastes in room features and layouts are a;ected greatly by
region, climate, lifestyle, and architectural traditions.
To better understand these localized trends, we asked
REALTORS® from four markets across the country to share
a recent median-priced listing and describe how it reflects
local buyer preferences.
DES MOINES, WASH.
MEDIAN PRICE: $245,000
$354,700 median, + 15.9% from 2012)
DESIRED FEATURES: Good condition, two-story or ranch plan, about 1,700 square
feet, updated bathrooms, deck, natural gas for barbecue.
BUYER TURNOFFS: Fixer-uppers, overpricing.
BEST MARKETING TOOLS: A listing launch with an open house
preview for neighbors to bring in as many as possible in initial
blitz; professional photos appeal to all buyers; listing’s own
website to measure tra;c online.
FOR $100,000 MORE: Partial view of Puget Sound or Olympic
mountains, fourth bedroom, updated kitchen, basement, bigger
Prices in Des Moines (population: 29,000) saw double-digit
gains in 2013 but are still well below the $354,700 median
for the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area. Des Moines has seen a
housing shortage for the last year and a half. The prime reasons,
says Tony Hettler, CRB, broker-owner with John L. Scott Real
Estate’s Des Moines o;ce, are sellers who are waiting for prices
to rise further before they list and pent-up demand from young
couples seeking a;ordable homes near the water or mountains.
THIS LISTING: This bank-owned 1,890-square-foot house, built
in 1990, sold in less than three weeks last July for $13,100 more
than its $207,900 listing price. Hettler credits the realistic price,
prime condition, new appliances, gas furnace, roof, three bedrooms, and convenient location between Seattle and Tacoma,
the state’s biggest cities.
MEDIAN PRICE: $170,600
(+ 29.3% from 2012)
DESIRED FEATURES: Hardwood floors,
high ceilings, walk-in closets in master
bedroom, a pool.
BUYER TURNOFFS: No second bathroom, either no garage or just
a single-car garage.
BEST MARKETING TOOLS: Listing sites, social media, and You Tube,
since many home shoppers in this price range (from ages 20