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homeowners_home_valueThe average American’s perception of home value in the post-crash era runs much deeper than standard measures of price and location, according to a recently released Homeowner Sentiment Survey done by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. Unlike prior emphasis on square footage and amenities, today’s property owners and prospective homebuyers define value in broader terms of personal confidence in their housing investment, and how a property will meet their family needs now and in the future.

“Homeowners today seem to have a longer-term perspective for their properties,” says HSF Affiliates CEO Gino Blefari. “They’re expressing more permanence in homeownership and a broadened sense of traditional value. Besides location and price, they’re telling us that the greatest value in a home is where they find the most confidence and security. They want a property that makes good financial sense and fits their family needs now and in future.”

As housing markets across America continue their steady recovery and with home equity rising for many, homeowners have increasing options. A large majority of owners (89 percent) expressed satisfaction with their home and current living situation; about a third says they’ve considered selling their home in the near future. Those selling their homes seek properties that better fit their changing lifestyles and life events, among other reasons.

Home-value perception varies through the lenses of different age groups. Boomers and Gen Xers embrace homeownership first as a “smart, long-term investment.” By contrast, Millennials are “thinking in the now” about real estate, placing highest priority on the “ease of a purchase decision” including the ability to close quickly on a property, secure financing and afford monthly payments. Of homeownership’s benefits, Millennials want a place they’re proud to show family and friends; they value a community with great schools; and they seek locations encouraging healthier lifestyles. They also want a lively neighborhood: 61 percent of Millennials says it’s important to live in a neighborhood with a variety of trendy dining and retail options.

“As Millennials become a larger part of the home-buying market, their preferences become better defined and seemingly more traditional,” says Stephen Phillips, president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. “We have always believed there is more similarity than difference among home-buying groups, and this new data seems to support that view.”

Blefari was surprised with the survey’s results surrounding the viewpoints of Millenials. “As we looked at our data, Millennials’ sentiments about homeownership jumped off the page,” he says. “I’ve heard Millennials described as nomadic and not necessarily interested in homeownership. Our survey shows a much different picture: Millennials value highly the ability to own a home they’re proud show loved ones, with the traditional factors that enhance the standard of living”

“I’m also pleasantly surprised by the growing popularity of home renovations using eco-friendly appliances, systems and materials,” says Blefari. “It’s evident want to make an impact for the environment.”

With an eye toward enhancing long-term value, 88 percent of current homeowners say it is important to update or renovate their home over time, and they want improvements that stress energy efficiency and eco-friendly systems and materials. More than 60 percent of current homeowners favored “green” improvements even before kitchen, bath and flooring projects. Millennials are most enthusiastic about renovating: 61 percent want a home they can upgrade to their preferences.

Overall, homeowners and prospective buyers believe housing has turned the corner. A full 94 percent says homeownership is important to their long-term financial planning. With interest rates hovering near historic lows and the economy and job market growing, respondents say today is a more ideal time to buy a home than a year ago.

Still, a strong majority of respondents expect more competition for homes as housing inventory remains tight in many U.S. markets. A skilled sales professional will help in the search: Of prospective homeowners who hired agent, 93 percent says the agent has been effective in that home-finding process.

“Homeownership is certainly alive and well and confidence has returned for many owners and prospective owners,” says Blefari. “Today’s homeowners want properties for all the right reasons: to raise a family, generate long-term wealth, dream for the future and feel safe and secure.”

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