Top Features for Upscale Homes

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The top five upscale features by this measure are shown below. Following the precedent of The Late Show with David Letterman, the list of top items is presented in reverse order:

#5. Two-story Entry Foyer

A two-story foyer creates a visually impressive entrance that, not surprisingly, is particularly attractive to buyers at the top end of the market. A soaring open space filled with light imparts a luxurious feeling immediately upon entering the home. Thirty-nine percent of buyers expecting to pay $500,000 more for a home rate a two-story foyer essential or desirable, compared to 20 percent of buyers expecting to pay under $150.000. A two-story foyer is truly a luxury, however, in that it consumes space that needs to be conditioned or could serve a more utilitarian function. It also introduces some complications in framing, covering and insulating the walls. This may help explain why 47 percent of buyers expecting to pay under $150,000 explicitly reject a two-story foyer, compared to 26 percent of buyers expecting to pay $500,000 or more.

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#4. An Outdoor Kitchen

Although an outdoor kitchen may be a relatively simple expanded grilling area, it may also be a more elaborate affair with many of the amenities found in an indoor kitchen, including a  sink, refrigerator, lighting, cabinetry, and natural stone countertops. Variants of these products are sometimes designed specifically for use outdoors—by waterproofing them, for example.

It’s probably not surprising that what often amounts to a second complete kitchen constructed outdoors qualifies as a luxury item that seems primarily appropriate in upscale homes. Nearly half of buyers expecting to pay at least $500,000 rate an outdoor kitchen as desirable or essential, compared to a little over a quarter of buyers expecting to pay under $150,000. And 36 percent of buyers expecting to pay under $150,000 are unlikely to buy a home if it comes with an outdoor kitchen, compared to only 18 percent of $500,000-plus buyers.

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#3. Kitchen With a Wine Cooler

Following the outdoor kitchen is an amenity sometimes included in indoor kitchens—a wine cooler. A wine cooler can be of almost any size, but when evaluating a cooler as an integral feature that would be included in the price of a home, most consumers probably envision something large enough to crowd out another appliance or essential general storage space in a smaller kitchen.

As a general rule, relatively few home buyers demand a wine cooler in their kitchens. In the survey overall, it was one of only three kitchen features rated desirable or essential by fewer than 30 percent of the respondents. However, 46 percent of buyers expecting to pay at least $500,000 rate a wine cooler that favorably, compared to only 15 percent of buyers expecting to pay under $150,000.

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#2. Two-story Family Room   

Like a two-story entry foyer, a two-story family room is dramatic, yet uses space that needs to be heated or could be used for some other purpose—the very definition of a luxury. The space consumed is generally greater for a two-story family room, because there is more floor space in the typical family room than the typical entry foyer.

Over half of buyers expecting to pay under $150,000 say they are unlikely to buy a home with a two-story family room, compared to 29 percent of buyers expecting to pay at least $500,000. And 32 percent of the $500,000-plus buyers rate a two-story family room as   desirable or essential, compared to only 18 percent of buyers expecting to pay under $150,000.

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#1. Kitchen With a Warming Drawer

Like a wine cooler, a warming drawer is a specialty item that takes up space which would be allocated to more general purposes in a small kitchen. Also like a wine cooler, it is one of the few kitchen features rated   essential or desirable by fewer than 30 percent of home buyers overall.

However, a significantly larger share (42 percent) of buyers expecting to pay at least $500,000 want a warming drawer, compared to only 15 percent of buyers expecting to pay under $150,000. Only 14 percent of the $500,000-plus buyers say they are unlikely to buy a home with a warming drawer—the smallest “do not want” percentage for any item discussed above, which helps explain why a warming drawer in the kitchen ranks as the number one feature most appropriate in upscale homes.

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