What Do Women Want in a House?
Having recently bought a house that needs extensive work before it can be resold, I asked many people their opinion about what work would increase the value and appeal of the house. The people in the industry—the contractors and the real estate agent—happened to be all men, and they told me that it was the woman that purchased the house. They proceeded to tell me what features women want in a house, but I wasn't sure I agreed with them.
I am a woman, and I don't agree with what they said. I wasn't sure whether I was unique in my opinions, so I surveyed a group of women from different walks of life, and what they told me was quite different from what the "experts" were telling me women wanted. Here is what I learned.
What the Experts Say Women Want
My contractor told me that what women want in a new home is new and neutral. He said women don't like to think about other people using their things, so he recommended new kitchen cabinets. He also said that people have a hard time envisioning things in a different environment, so he recommended painting everything beige, by which he meant antique white. He also recommended spending the most money in the kitchen and the bathroom, which again meant new kitchen cabinets, new vanities, and new flooring.
These rules seemed too simple to me. Women are smart enough to know that when they are looking for a house, unless it is newly constructed for them, someone else has lived there before them. They don't mind using the things that other people use and would rather not spend extra money just to have something replaced just because someone else has used it. In fact, I have many friends who enjoy shopping at thrift stores and antique stores to find those old products that are no longer sold at the department stores. Women will also likely get bored by the monotony of house after house as they shop for a new home. They need features that are memorable and enticing.
Since I am a woman, I thought that my own opinion should matter more than the basic rules that the experts had memorized. However, since my profit was at stake, I thought about my own home-buying experiences. I was a real estate agent for a very short time before I started my banking career, but I did get a chance to go through a number of houses that were for sale. It took me a long time to buy my own house, and I went through many for-sale houses during that time. In case my thinking was way off base, I also interviewed several of my friends and relatives and came up with a better list of what women want in a house they are buying.
Together we came up with two things that will automatically make women walk away from a house and a number of things that will entice us to buy a house.
1. Women Want a Clean House
When we walk through the house, we are looking for a home to make new memories in with our family members. We picture family gatherings, cooking, eating, playing games, and sleeping in on lazy Sunday mornings. We generally aren't thinking of the maintenance that needs to be done on the house. We aren't thinking of scrubbing the bathtub or cleaning the oven. Your house shouldn't make us think of cleaning unless it is in a good way. A beautiful kitchen faucet with a spray that makes cleaning easier, or a dishwasher that will save us time, are good ways to think about cleaning.
The number one turn-off is a dirty house. I don't like to clean, and the thought of having to clean a dirty house repels me. While a small amount of clutter is probably okay, excessive amounts of junk will make me lose my focus. If I have to deal with an obstacle course as I go around the house, I will be paying more attention to your belongings than the house.
Be especially mindful of smells. I don't mind a normal amount of day-to-day living clutter, but if the house smells like cat litter, mold, or stale bacon grease, I am going to be too busy avoiding vomiting to look at any of the features in your house in a positive way. I have no interest in looking at this house, no matter how nice it might otherwise be.
Other women have confirmed that they also have no interest in houses with unpleasant odors or excessive stains and messes.
2. Women Don't Want Icky Reminders of Past Tenants
We all know that people lived in a house, and having used things is generally not a problem. But some things will cause us to cringe, even though we know they are easy to clean. Dirty tissues, toenail clippings, hair in the sink or bathtub, and the dreaded bathtub ring are just plain disgusting and may blind us from the positive features of the house. We want the past tenants to have loved the house and taken care of it, and these things show that the house has not been loved properly. Maybe it isn't worth loving. Women who will buy a house like this anyway will likely subconsciously value the house less, and you won't get as much for it as you could have if you had kept it clean.
Nasty smells and gross reminders of the tenants will repel us. What features do we like in a house?
3. Carpet or Wood Floors?
I asked many women whether to sand and seal the wood floors or cover them with carpet. My contractor told me that for my house, the cost would be about the same. The wood floors would not require a lot of cost in materials, but there was the increased labor cost of sanding and adding polyurethane. If you can do the work yourself, you would save more money with wood floors.
The votes were evenly split. Some women felt that the carpet hid the dirt better and was easy to vacuum. Other women liked that the dirt was easy to see on wood floors, so they could easily sweep it away. They also appreciated the fact that wood could handle spills and wet paw prints that could simply be wiped off.
4. Women Want an Easy-to-Clean House
I understand that there is a lot about cleaning in this article, but since women have to do a lot of the cleaning, it is understandable that they want something easy to clean. If you can add features that help make cleaning easier, you are more likely to entice a woman to buy the house. If the house doesn't already have a dishwasher, see if you can find the space to add one. Make sure all parts of the counters are easy to reach and easy to clean. A spray in the kitchen sink and a showerhead that can easily be moved around to clean are nice features to add.
When adding anything, look at how many nooks and crannies are in it that will make it difficult to clean.
A big part of cleaning is organization. A place that has nice closets, shelves, and spaces to put things in will be helpful. In the kitchen, add pull-out drawers to make the items accessible.
Features that make the normal chores of cooking, cleaning, and laundry easier will make the house sell faster and provide a great return on your investment.
|Old Philosophy||Revised Philosophy|
Look at each item and really consider whether replacing it is an improvement.
A homeowner should be able to move into the house without having to change too much. Neutral is good, but an all-beige house has no character.
Add functionality; don't just change for change's sake.
Good place to remove icky reminders of past residents.
Women Want a Memorable House
Of course, when you are fixing up a house to sell, you want to keep it neutral so that many styles of furniture will fit in it. I also understand that in some housing markets, some people simply prime the walls and let the owner decide what color they want in the house. I wanted my house to be ready to move into and enjoy.
One of the mistakes my contractor made was in defining "neutral" as beige. When I was looking at houses, I was bored with all the houses that had all beige features. Sure, I liked the newness of it, but beige isn't cheaper than any other color. Beige is lazy. It shows the work of someone who quickly grabbed a bucket of paint from the shelf and put it on. There will be times when beige is the best option, but please choose a shade of beige that works best.
Take the time to find a neutral color that will enhance the look of your home. The time and attention you take will show that you cared about the house and wanted it to look its best. If you take shortcuts in the paint color, what other shortcuts did you take that aren't as apparent?
Remember, beige is also a color. You can't avoid making a decision about the color. Don't worry if it isn't the perfect shade. Women do know that we can repaint the walls if we don't like the color. In my house, I used several colors throughout the house instead of only one. That way, if the home buyers didn't like the color, they did not need to repaint the entire house. I think it also shows that someone took the time to choose the right color for each room.
When you are removing things from the house that are dated, be sure to consider whether they add value to the house. If something is broken or worn out, it may be worth removing and replacing with something new or just leaving it out. Make sure that whatever your substitute will be equal to or better than the item you are removing.
Keep in mind that there may be old things that add a special whimsy to the house and should be left there. In my house, there is a nook in the wall for the old telephone and telephone book. We considered removing it because it is dated. As my daughter said, nobody uses those phones anymore, but I really liked it. We decided instead to turn it into a charging station by adding an electric outlet.
7. Women Want a House That Is in Good Repair
When people buy a house, they will have to adjust to a new mortgage, buy furniture and decorate their new place. They don't want any large upcoming expenses, like an old roof or furnace that will need to be replaced.
Don't forget the little things either. Most contractors know that they should fix the things that are broken. But sometimes, when there is an easy fix, they would rather let someone else handle it. In one house, I saw that a light switch cover was not in place. The contractor assumed that this easy-to-fix situation would not cause a problem when selling the house. What he didn't realize is that some women find a trip to the hardware store to be daunting. Without knowing the name of that little part that they need, they know they will have difficulty finding that little part. Some know that it may take several trips to the store to get exactly what they need.
This missing light switch cover showed me that the house was not ready. I couldn't simply move in my furniture and start living there. It also showed me a lack of attention to detail and made me wonder what other places were missing the attention that they required.
What Do Women Home Buyers Want?
To sell a house to a woman,
- clean up anything that smells,
- remove icky reminders of residents,
- consider the cleaning factor in anything you add,
- add cleaning and organization features,
- fix anything that needs repair,
- make it pretty and memorable, and
- finish the job
Am I right? What do you look for in a house? Join the conversation in the comments below.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2013 Shasta Matova
What Do Women Look For When Buying a House?
Linda Bryen from United Kingdom on April 01, 2018:
Thank you Shasta for this well-written hub about buying a house from the women's point of view. It does not matter about how the house look like to me because when buying a house, what matters is the price. The cost matters to me whether we can afford it or not. Obviously, if it is expensive no matter how good it looks if we can't afford it, then we have to look for the house with a price that we can afford. You got some great tips though.
Shasta Matova (author) from USA on November 15, 2014:
Thank you for your insight Tamara. You are right. Most people would not want to buy a house that has a roof or a furnace that will need to be replaced right away. They will have enough issues adjusting to the new mortgage, buying furniture and decorating.
MJ Martin aka Ruby H Rose from Washington State on November 11, 2014:
Selling an older home in need of many repairs can be done successfully if it is well cleaned. Also, I agree with "staging" it with pieces that give visual ideas of how well furniture and fixtures dress up the place. Some offer the décor with the house. Fascinating information I am gonna share!
Tamara Wilhite from Fort Worth, Texas on November 02, 2014:
Another thing buyers want is clean title and a minimum of major financial hits, such as knowing that the HVAC system is new or the school taxes due in December are already paid.
Shasta Matova (author) from USA on July 22, 2014:
That's so true, Tamara. I would definitely avoid a house that requires a great deal of regular maintenance.
Tamara Wilhite from Fort Worth, Texas on June 15, 2014:
Women also tend to look for homes that are easy to maintain or need little maintenance. This may mean skipping a house with a pool or complicated yard, or an attraction to a house with a yard service in the HOA or gutters with a leaf guard.
Shasta Matova (author) from USA on February 17, 2014:
Thanks alexandry for your input. It is difficult to see the potential of fixer-uppers, especially when you consider how much time and energy has to go into fixing it up. I too look for a nicely sized yard, although if it is too big, I worry about the regular maintenance. I'm glad you have found a house that gives you the space you enjoy.
Adrienne Farricelli on February 16, 2014:
This is interesting. I agree that I like homes that are easy to clean and that don't need much fixing done. Nothing bothers me more than seeing fixer-uppers. I also look for a nicely sized yard, we have almost 5 acres right now and am enjoying the space so much!
Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on November 04, 2013:
As a woman myself, I'd like a house that is a "blank canvas" so I can put my own stamp on it. There's nothing worse than something with vivid paint and carpets that are costly to change.
Shasta Matova (author) from USA on October 23, 2013:
Thank you everyone for your comments and insight. It really helps to know what women really want when they are looking to buy a house.
Debra Allen from West Virginia on October 19, 2013:
I would rather it be cluttered and look lived in. It allows me to see just how my furniture will fit into a room. I don't have to imagine.
CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on October 19, 2013:
I just sold my house for a really good price because I'm all about cleaning and keeping it neat and tidy and polish (clutter-free) and it's all worth it!
Great, useful hub! Well picked for HOD!
Better Yourself from North Carolina on October 16, 2013:
GREAT hub! Well done in nailing what's important to women when finding the right home for their family and of course themselves. Cleaning is a daunting task and cleaning up after someone else is a turn off! Congrats on HOTD!
Audrey Howitt from California on October 16, 2013:
I am all about the clean! Great article!
LongTimeMother from Australia on October 15, 2013:
Your hub makes perfectly good sense and I enjoyed it, but I am still in two minds about the realtor sign. A business with that name in Australia would have trouble finding people to work there! lol. :)
Melanie Casey from Indiana on October 15, 2013:
A clean house is a must! If I smell mold, I am out of there!
W1totalk on October 15, 2013:
This is a great hub with solid information on housing purchase tips.
Cathi Sutton on October 15, 2013:
Guest on October 15, 2013:
I'm interested in the logo on the upper left corner of the sign... the four part swirlly thing with the flowers. What does it mean?
Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on October 15, 2013:
These are interesting observations about "What Women Want" in a house. For someone like me, who is a do it yourself-er, I can see past the dirt and grime and have actually bought houses that were fixer-uppers which reeked with odors and needed a thorough cleaning. That, I can do. Major repairs, I contracted out, like air conditioning and water heater replacement. For others, the realtors are right to an extent. Neutral colors are easy to accessorize with bright colors that can be changed when styles change. Kitchens and bathrooms are the ticket. But for some, like a home I sold in the 70s, the orange shag carpet and orange fixtures in the bathroom were the selling feature. Go figure. Every one is different.
Congratulations on winning the H.O.T.D. award for this thought provoking hub.
Levertis Steele from Southern Clime on October 15, 2013:
While shopping across the years for a home, apartment or house for sale/rent for myself and friends and relatives, all of us women wanted clean buildings. We did not want to see stained walls, toilets, cabinets or appliances. We wanted clean floors--carpet, hardwood, tile, etc. When our children were young, we wanted to see features about the buildings that made us feel that our children would be safe. Steps/stairs without faults, fencing, windows and doors well designed for uneasy break-ins, etc. were features we wanted to see. Spacious kitchens and bedrooms and nice bathrooms were among our priorities.
I would buy a dirty house IF the price and quality are irresistible! I do not mind hiring a clean-up crew if the deal is attractive. Still, I agree that women generally want to see cleanliness.
Great hub with such useful information!
Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on October 15, 2013:
When I bought this aging house 13 years ago, the owner had just painted ALL the walls and cabinets bright white and put beige carpet throughout the house. I not only wanted more color, I don't like carpet, but prefer hardwood floors.
Since many older houses from this era (early '60s) have hardwood flooring underneath carpet and pads that were added later, I asked him if this house had wood floors beneath the carpet. He told me emphatically that there was no hardwood flooring. I took his word for it and only found out several years later that many of the rooms do in fact have oak floors. I can only assume he didn't want me tearing out the carpet he'd just had installed, but the fact that he lied to me about this issue still rankles. I consider his behavior unethical and am only glad I didn't know how to contact him at the moment I discovered his deception!
As it was, I lived here several years before I had all the carpet removed, wood floors refinished and walls/cabinets painted colors I find pleasing. If I'd known about the wood flooring, I would have had the carpet taken out before I moved in.
Interesting hub. Congratulations for having it chosen HOTD.
CraftytotheCore on October 15, 2013:
Congratulations on your Hub of the Day! I worked with a realtor one time in the selling of a friend's house. I went in and helped him box up all the extra stuff around the house that he wasn't using. Then got a storage unit rental by the month. We placed different bookcases and furniture in a simple fashion around the house to make it more appealing for potential buyers. He had the ceilings painted. The only thing he didn't do was change out the old carpet. A woman purchased his house because she loved the carpet. So funny.
Mary Hyatt from Florida on October 15, 2013:
Congrats on HOTD! Well deserving. I just put my house on the market, but it hasn't sold yet. I went through and got rid of all the clutter. I gave away my years of treasures to my children. I wish I had done that long ago!
Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on October 15, 2013:
Excellent advice and tips MT! I highly doubt I could buy a used house. I've bought two houses in my lifetime and they were both built from scratch. Might be the reason I never liked living in an apartment, I didn't want the walls talking to me! Haha! Congrats on HOTD!
Claudia Porter on October 15, 2013:
Congrats on your HOTD! This is a really useful hub and I have to agree with not wanting remnants of the past when buying a house.
CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on October 15, 2013:
This is awesome! Bookmarking and passing along for sure. And, congrats on HOD!
RTalloni on October 15, 2013:
Congrats on your Hub of the Day award for a bravo post! Experts can be so dense… :)
Shasta Matova (author) from USA on October 07, 2013:
Thanks for your input btrbell, I find hardwood much easier to clean than carpet, and it gives me the chance to change things up with floor rugs. I think it is worth the investment to hire someone to clean out the place for you, or take the time to clean before moving in.
Randi Benlulu from Mesa, AZ on October 02, 2013:
As a first time buyer (hopefully!), I have to agree with the cleanliness factor. Color doesn't bother me at all because I am going to want to make it my own, anyway. I am a hardwood or ceramic floor type person. Thank you for all thgese tips!
Shasta Matova (author) from USA on September 19, 2013:
Thank you teaches12345. I wish you the best on selling your house. I hope you get a great price for it and sell it quickly. You know, when I was buying a house, I hadn't considered paying someone to clean it, but it does make sense to me now. Probably best to have someone clean both the old home and the new home.
Shasta Matova (author) from USA on September 19, 2013:
Thanks for your comment moonlake. I think especially if you have renters in your home while you are trying to sell it, you will have to deal with getting a low price because the renters won't want to keep getting the house ready to sell. Plus, it is a lot of work having to keep the place sparkling and clean at a moment's notice. It is strange how people will affix their sights on the strangest things, like the furniture even though they aren't buying the furniture.
Shasta Matova (author) from USA on September 19, 2013:
Thank you for your input tirelesstraveler. It does depend on the market and price of the house. I suppose you can add character with the new things that are added instead of leaving the character in the old stuff. Definitely clean and clutter free is just the first step to getting a good price for your house.
Shasta Matova (author) from USA on September 19, 2013:
Thank you for your input pstraubie48. A structurally sound house that is clean will make the home easier to sell and easier to live in for the buyer.
Shasta Matova (author) from USA on September 19, 2013:
Thank you for your comment and insight FlourishAnyway. It is great that you are able to afford a house that was custom built for you. Your tours of houses to buy sound just awful. I do believe most people want to move into a home that is ready to live in without having to go through the time and expense to fix it up.
Dianna Mendez on September 18, 2013:
As we prepare to sell our home, you have given me additional items to check off our list. I am busy painting our white rooms downstairs, (from previous owner's taste) to a neutral color. I would pay to have someone clean a home before I moved into it. It is worth the money and saves a lot of time.
moonlake from America on September 16, 2013:
Looking for a house I agree clean, clean and clean. We saw a house that had a clothes shoot to the basement and all the clothes were on the floor with food mixed in. It was disgusting.
We once had friends trying to sell a house and one family that looked at it didn't like their decorating, not the colors but the items they had in the house. It is very strange what people will dislike and not buy the house because of it.
Voted up on your hub.
Judy Specht from California on September 16, 2013:
The houses that have sold here have been in spectacular condition. One of the houses sold $720,000. House had a fire last November the inside was completely redone. New owners, filled in the swimming pool and redid much of the inside before moving in. That's California for you. I agree character is good, but have been amazed what people do when they buy houses. Apparently most new homeowners replace the carpet and put in air conditioning within the first 3 months of owning a house. In our market if the house isn't clean and clutter free, you have to take low price and mark it "as is".
Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on September 15, 2013:
Besides the obvious, structurally sound and no repairs needed, the single most important factor to me is CLEANLINESS. I just cannot move into someone else's 'nasty.'
thanks for sharing. Hopefully if someone is getting ready to sell or even rent they will carefully consider this article.
Angels are on the way ps
FlourishAnyway from USA on September 15, 2013:
Our first house was previously owned and hid a few expensive and yucky problems, despite having had it thoroughly checked out. Having now had a house custom built, I've decided I'll never own another person's hand-me-down again. Touring houses to buy, we ran into all kinds of things -- unflushed toilets, toddler writing on the wall, pet iguanas on the kitchen counter (in a cage), strange murals the prior owners had painted themselves. It was a real eye opener. Some things (although merely cosmetic) just take too much work to fix, while others leave you wondering whether these signs are red herrings to larger issues.