A blue shed with window boxes in a nicely groomed yard.

Home features that can fetch your sellers a better price 

Zillow's latest analysis of listing descriptions found that certain keywords were correlated with higher sale prices and faster sales.

April 5, 2023
3 minutes

Key points:

  • A new study by Zillow finds steam ovens, “she sheds” and quartz counters can add to the price of a home.
  • Practical items like doorbell cameras and a fenced yard can make a home sell faster.
  • Highlighting desirable features is a cue to buyers that the home is nicely outfitted, increasing the chances of a sale.

The right words can make all the difference. As agents try to help sellers maximize profits in a tight market, choosing which features to highlight in the listing description could be the key.

A recent study by Zillow found that along with getting a higher selling price, some trendy or practical items may help close a deal more quickly.

Steam ovens topped the list of features that help a home sell for more than expected, bumping the sale price up by 5.3% compared to similar homes without that feature. Listings that mentioned a doorbell camera sold about 5 days faster than a typical home. 

A few other fun items that appear to prompt buyers to spend a little more include pizza ovens, "she sheds" (think man cave, but maybe without the beer fridge), soapstone countertops and professional appliances. 

Practical items tended to quicken a home sale, including a fenced backyard, open shelving and heat pumps. Mentioning walkability in the listing description also helped homes sell faster.

While every buyer's preferences differ, when they see these features, buyers tend to view the listing as a "nice home," said Amanda Pendleton, Zillow home trends expert.

Which can be to a seller's advantage. "If their sellers have these desirable features, agents should make sure to flaunt them in their listing description and listing media," Pendleton said in an email.

To come up with these results, Zillow looked at 271 features mentioned in listings across nearly two million home sales in 2022. 

Not all features are equally good at boosting the price and the speed of sale, according to the study. While a wine cellar can add to the sale price, listings that include one also take on average five more days to sell.

The study focused on items that were already in place, so it did not estimate any possible return-on-investment for sellers thinking about adding these features.

Will these trends stick around?

Preferences change over time, but home trends tend to endure longer than fashion, Pendleton said. She noted that steam ovens have now topped the list for three straight years.

Certain features can rocket up the list because they are top-of-mind for buyers at that moment.

"Homes boasting remote-work-friendly features like broadband internet and home offices were associated with higher sale premiums during the height of the pandemic in 2021 than they did in this year's analysis," Pendleton said.

Doorbell cameras appear to be a feature that will have some staying power. Pendleton said they help a home stand out from the competition and tend to be associated with other smart home technology that buyers want, like smart thermostats or app-controlled sprinkler systems.

What turns buyers off

Zillow found certain words work against the seller because they may suggest to some buyers that the house needs updating. Homes with tile countertops can sell for 1.1% less than expected, while laminate flooring can knock the price down 0.6%. 

And while they may be all over HGTV, walk-in closets can hurt a home's value by 0.7%. Researchers speculated that walk-in closets are no longer viewed as a selling point, with buyers thinking the space should be used for something else.

But those home improvement shows do have an influence on trends, Pendleton said.

"Modern farmhouses and their associated features, such as shiplap and farmhouse sinks, were made popular by home improvement TV shows, and homes in this style continue to command higher-than-expected sale prices," Pendleton said. "Trendy features signal to a buyer that a home is up to date and contemporary, ultimately contributing to those higher sale premiums."

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