Let's face it: 'character' isn't usually the first word that comes to mind when shopping for new construction. Born out of the pre-recession economy, homes in the cookie cutter neighborhood often lack what's traditionally defined as character - a storied history, perhaps, or distinctive interior features. As builders steered their efforts toward mass production, character, like a whirlpool tub, came with an additional price tag.
With the housing market gradually stabilizing, the notion of character in a home has evolved into something much more ambiguous. Delivering that elusive feature to your client can be an exercise in futility if you're not sure what, exactly, they're after.
"Character is very personal and different people will define it differently," explains Nina Hollander, RE/MAX Executive Realty in Charlotte, N.C. "When a client tells me they want a home with character, I ask them to give me their definition – it’s amazing how different answers were from one client to another, and often, their answers were not what I'd consider character."
Coming through for your client is significantly less challenging if he or she wants something concrete – period architecture, for instance. How do you handle buyers who covet something intangible?
It’s crucial to determine how well a home has been maintained over the years, says John McCormack, Albuquerque Homes Realty in Albuquerque, N.M. "When a home is well loved, that always makes it feel welcoming and inviting," he says.
But as the Internet of Things continues to shape household design, real estate professionals may be presented with shifting ideas about character. According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), remodelers anticipate requests for add-ons like smart home automation and energy-efficiency over the next 10 years. Could the popularity of technology-based features give way to a new definition of character?
The answer is uncertain. But one thing holds true: a home’s character will remain, as always, a sign of the times.