Factors That Influence Home Buying

A home is a reflection of its owner’s personality, tastes and values. Because we know that each individual is unique and has her own idea of what’s important when choosing a home, we set out to compare and contrast what different types of homebuyers–think men vs. women, dog people vs. cat people–care about when choosing a place to call home.

We asked more than 1,000 Americans which elements of a home they found most desirable and which they could do without. Then, we segmented their responses by a range of self-reported characteristics while tracking patterns in home preferences. Read on to learn what buyers valued most when it came to choosing a home of their own.

To start, we studied how men and women differed in the home features they sought. While some priorities seemed to resonate equally with each gender, significant differences emerged as well.

Men and Women: Different Wish Lists?

The inclusion of exterior maintenance, for example, was a greater concern for men, perhaps because they typically spend more than twice as much time as women on lawn and garden care. Female respondents emphasized interior features, identifying the inclusion of appliances and the home’s interior layout as more important priorities. Similarly, women viewed bedroom and bathroom counts as crucial elements to a greater extent than men.

Women also placed a greater focus on the financial aspects of homebuying than their male counterparts. Home price, resale value and taxes and insurance costs were all more important to women. They also expressed the importance of local safety and school quality to a greater degree. Perhaps this certainty about what they want explains why single women bought significantly more homes than single men in 2017.

Parental Preferences

As one might expect, parenthood seemed to make potential buyers far more precise about their real estate needs. Concerning virtually every feature, parents expressed greater importance than those without kids. The largest difference emerged on the subject of education: Parents rated a good school district 33 percent more important than non-parents. Perhaps couples without children should consider local schools more thoroughly, however. Experts caution young buyers that a troubled school district could come back to haunt them later, if only about their home’s potential resale value.

Parents were also much more concerned with the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. That’s a logical consideration for growing families, or simply for families with kids growing older (bunk beds tend to cause trouble in the teen years). They also placed a greater emphasis on fencing, and their concerns likely extend past privacy. With young kids running around the yard, a little separation from the street is always a welcome safety measure.

Phones and Homes

We also divided our results along some lighter lines, including one marker of tech identity: Android versus iPhone users. iPhone users, for instance, seemed to have a greater attraction to pools – though we doubt that’s due to the company’s emphasis on water-resistance in its latest phones. They also saw appliances as more important than Android users, a fact that might make Steve Jobs smile. Because the brand has emphasized the union of beauty and function in all of its products, it’s no wonder Apple fans are picky when it comes to their dishwashers as well.

Android users placed less importance on school quality and a central location. These statistics may simply reflect a need or preference for lower prices, however, as both of these factors can significantly increase a home’s resale value. Because Androids are significantly less expensive than iPhones, it may be that their users tend to be thriftier as well.

Pet Lover Preferences

According to our results, the type of furry friend you prefer may also influence your hunt for a home. Dog people tended to feel more strongly about a range of features likely needed to accommodate their pups. These factors included the amount of land surrounding their home, as well as fencing to keep their pets contained – a recipe for a happy dog anywhere. Neighborhood appearance was also more important to dog people, meaning they have good reason to pick up after their dogs on local sidewalks.

Dog fans were also 8.9 percent more concerned about school quality, a statistic with two possible explanations. Perhaps families with kids also tend to have a dog as well, hence the importance of local education. Or maybe dog lovers are using their pets to train themselves for future parenthood and, as a result, value good schools. Recent research shows many millennials are likely to see pet ownership as a precursor to having kids.

A Hideout of Their Own

Here’s another contrast in taste – this time from the world of fantasy and fiction. Marvel and DC fans expressed significantly different ideas about what mattered most in a home, such as the DC cohort’s preference for fencing. Perhaps the gates of Wayne Manor inspire them, though the Batcave boasts more robust defenses. Marvel fans eyed internal upgrades, such as the interior layout and a modern kitchen. It’s a safe bet Iron Man’s pad would get high marks in both categories.

Neighborhood safety and school quality were also more important to Marvel fans. Maybe that’s because education and local crime were both essential to Spider-Man’s rise. A field trip was the occasion for Peter Parker’s encounter with a fateful spider, and a thief’s attack on his uncle solidified his resolve to fight crime.

Personality and Home Priorities

Our contrasts also extended to other fun comparisons of personality and preference. Early birds, for instance, appreciated patios and neighborhood appearance more than those who stayed up late.Perhaps early risers imagine morning coffee or neighborhood walks in aesthetically pleasing settings – which are a lot harder to appreciate at night. Interestingly, materially oriented people were pickier about the physical features of a home and its location. One might expect experience-seekers to value a central location more highly, but perhaps distance from convenient urban shopping puts them closer to more rugged adventures.

As with those who used iPhones, Mac users were fans of pools and appliances. But an entirely new divide emerged when we asked respondents to pick a side of the Taylor-Kanye feud. Swift devotees were significantly more focused on the bathroom and bedroom count than Kanye fans. Perhaps they’re simply modeling their preferences after their idol’s: Swift owns a handful of homes, none of which are exactly lacking regarding extra space. Then again, it’s not like Kanye and spouse Kim Kardashian West are cramped in their own California manor.

Your Home, Your Choice

While our findings reveal some interesting contrasts in home preferences, a broader point is clear: No single characteristic defines the value of a home for any group or individual. Indeed, finding the right home hinges on a confluence of factors: For a house to become your dream home, it must possess many of the traits you value most.

The pursuit of a home perfectly suited to you and your family can be both an exciting and exhausting endeavor. Let Redfin.com be your guide along that journey by combining personalized service from local agents with unparalleled technology to power your home search. We’ll help you find the home of your dreams – whatever that includes – and give you the tools to make it your own.


We surveyed over 1,000 Americans on the features and factors that would matter most to them if they were buying a home. We then posed a series of questions about their lifestyles and preferences, allowing us to segment their answers in the various groups described above. The figures cited above are statistically significant given this sample size, with a p-value greater than or equal to 0.05.