What ‘House Hunters’ Gets Wrong About What Most People Want

If you’ve watched a lot of “House Hunters,” it seems that everyone wants an open concept layout, marble countertops, walk-in closets, and an extra bedroom (or two) for when kids happen sometime in the future. But surprisingly, the most important feature to both house and apartment dwellers never appears on the featured wish lists. According to a new survey from Porch.com, a central heating and air conditioning system is the most essential home amenities for both renters and homeowners.

For the study, Porch.com asked more than 1,000 people via an online survey which home amenities were non-negotiable, as well as how much they’d estimate to spend to have these features in their new home. While renters are a little more lenient to going without central heating and air (78.8 percent of respondents chose it as a top home amenity), it’s a total non-negotiable for those buying a home—82 percent said it was the most essential.

An HVAC system was not only the most important amenity for the millennials surveyed—but they’re also the most willing to pay extra for the feature. Apartment-dwelling millennials would pay $101 a month to have central AC, compared to Generation X’s $83 and the Baby Boomers’ $82. When buying, that number jumps to an additional $6,194 tacked onto the home price for air conditioning, compared to $4,972 for Gen X and $3,689 for the Boomers.

Though central air and heating were the most important to both renters and buyers, the other necessities then diverged by ownership. Rounding out the top three amenities on wish lists for apartment dwelling renters were in-unit washer/dryers (61.6 percent), and permission to have pets (45.2 percent). For homeowners, “House Hunters” seems to be pretty accurate: Most wanted private outside space (58.5 percent) and an extra bedroom (41.9 percent).

In June, Zillow released a similar study, finding that homes with central air sold for about $5,500 more than houses without, and regions with hotter climates—like San Antonio, Texas—came with a premium of almost $11K (though more than 97 percent of homes in Las Vegas, Nevada and Phoenix, Arizona were outfitted with air conditioning).

And while climate change causes even temperate cities to become hotter throughout the year, we can only expect air conditioning will become even more of a necessity. Who knows? Maybe in the next 10 years, those House Hunting couples will even start featuring A/C on their wish-list.

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