On the House: News flash: Buyers do want it all

Posted: June 23, 2013

If I had a dollar for every "What Do Buyers Want in a House?" survey that I've received in my years of writing about residential real estate, I could have retired 10 years ago.

Yet pollsters continue to survey and I continue to get the results, even though the reality is that what people do never approaches what they say they'll do.

I admit the house I own is the one I've always wanted, with minor exceptions.

I could do without the sycamore trees and their 12 months of shedding leaves, bark, and those spiky things I always step on while retrieving the newspaper from the front lawn in my bare feet.

The dogs that bark when I toss the trash and recycling in the receptacles at any hour and the guy in the nearby medical-building parking lot who needs to replace his muffler don't fall into the amenities category, either.

Taxes could be much lower, but this is New Jersey, after all.

You would think that after more than six years of record foreclosures and bank-owned sales, most buyers would want a house that they could afford over the long haul.

But no.

HSH.com, the mortgage search engine, sent me a survey that found, it says, that men and women want the same things when buying a house.

"Finding a house in the perfect location at the best price are characteristics that bridge the gender gap," it states.

For this they needed to pay for a survey?

So let me get this straight: At some point, men or women preferred buying houses in the middle of nowhere for a zillion dollars, but now they say they don't, for some reason.

HSH.com didn't provide a total number of people surveyed, except to say that the number of men and women queried was equal.

It also urged us to forget the stereotype that "a woman's place is in the kitchen." I offered this as a bulletin to Inquirer.com's breaking-news desk, but they passed.

I'm sorry, but a woman's place has not been in the kitchen since the 1950s - and even then there were millions of exceptions.

When we were dating in the late 1970s, my wife had a T-shirt that read, "A woman's place is in the House or Senate." I believe she had worn that on a tour of the U.S. Capitol, or maybe had bought it in the gift shop.

Somewhere along the way, it appears, the pollsters missed the fact that two-paycheck families have been the norm for quite a while.

That's why it's hardly a surprise that women and men might share equally in decision-making on home purchases, and that their ideas on what constitutes the right location and price might mesh.

An equal number of men and women also said that "a fabulous kitchen was a make-or-break feature" of a home purchase.

That makes sense, of course. A house that comes with a great kitchen is one that doesn't require a huge expenditure to acquire such an animal.

Meaning that if you can find a house with a great kitchen, in the right location, and at a good price, you have it made.

No matter who you are.

On the House: Town by Town

In the Sunday Business section, Alan J. Heavens takes a look at real estate and life throughout the region. This week's focus: Port Richmond.

Contact Alan J. Heavens at 215-854-2472, aheavens@phillynews.com or @alheavens at Twitter.

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