BIG yards....OUT!

Trends: Big yards are out, playrooms are in


NEW YORK – Jan. 25, 2016 – A playroom for kids is an increasingly important factor in young families' home buying decisions – even more so than other traditional features, some real estate professionals say.

"Buyers today – especially millennial buyers – want everyone to have a private space of their own to decompress under one roof, and the bonus room/playroom outweighs a large yard in their buying decision," says Patty Blackwelder, a buyer's agent with Twins Selling Real Estate in Northern Virginia. "The first item that seems to fall off the list is the large yard."

For listings that don't have a playroom, buyers may be looking for a spot to add one. For example, formal living rooms could be repurposed as a playroom. Sometimes buyers who sacrifice yard size for playrooms may also place a higher value on have a playground near the home.

"People are happy to have a patio for the kids to play on," says Ann Thompson, regional sales executive at Bank of America Home Loans. "The big yard thing – it's not necessarily everyone's grandest dream anymore." In areas such as California where there are water-use restrictions because of drought, for example, having a big yard is not always viewed as a positive.

Some pros suggest that agents should be prepared to help buyers visualize a playroom in their property listings, perhaps by suggesting how they could create one.

"Just because, at some point in time, someone wrote 'dining room' over this square plot in your home doesn't mean that it can only forever and henceforth be used as a dining room," writes children's retailer Land of Nod, which provides tips on its site for how to create a formal dining room and playroom in one space. "We say you can have your dining room four days a year, but you can also have a playroom 361 days a year."

As for the backyard, buyers still want one – but they may not be as picky about its size as they once were, Blackwelder says. Buyers may be looking for just enough backyard room to have a dining area and a fire pit or a garden.

"What's interesting is, given the choice of a large backyard or space inside for everyone, they will take the smaller backyard and space for everyone," Blackwelder says. "Even if the house is on a main road, they will take that – as long as a playground is nearby."

Source: "More Proof That Kids Rule the Family," MarketWatch (Jan. 19, 2016)

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