While the current homebuying frenzy might point to indiscriminate taste on the part of buyers, post-pandemic palates have actually been shaped by very well-defined needs that are revealed by the most used real estate keywords: more living space and better division of space.
Homebuyers emerged out of lockdown with an acute desire to regain a lost sense of privacy and restore their wellbeing amid a fast-changing home life. Therefore, the most desirable homes and the properties that seem to fly off the market are those that promise more space and more efficient space partitions that are better suited for the new work/life balance requirements.
So, what does that dream home look like? And what are the home description words and phrases that attract homebuyers and make them jump at the opportunity to buy?
To discover the features and amenities that excite new homebuyers and see how their tastes have changed during this whirlwind year, we examined 43 million words from 640,495 listings across the U.S. We then looked at the new trends and compared our findings to the insights from our 2019 analysis of the most popular keywords in home descriptions to see what had changed.
Check out the main takeaways:
• “Granite countertops,” “hardwood floors” and “stainless steel appliances” continue to rank high, but no longer occupy the main spots on homebuyers’ priority lists. While the practicality and beauty of these amenities have ensured their long-lasting desirability, they exited the top three this year.
• Many of the most popular adjectives refer to spaciousness — a home feature that became an absolute must in the past months. In particular, “large,” “great,” “full” and “spacious” were all among the most used words to lure space-hungry buyers.
• Whether they were looking for a house or a condo for sale, “garage” and “parking” represented new buyers’ soft spots. The popularity of these home description keywords points to the fact that, during a year when planes were grounded and social distancing wreaked havoc, it was the car that helped people escape the confines of their homes and find comfort elsewhere.
• The other most used phrase in home descriptions was “full bathroom.” With the increasing emphasis on health measures like hand washing, the importance of bathrooms, half baths, mudrooms and other types of transition spaces increased exponentially.
• Meanwhile, renters are leaning toward practical home features — perhaps even more than homebuyers. For instance, “garage” and “parking” were some of the most used terms, together with “washer/dryer,” “fitness center” and “pet-friendly.” “Convenient location” was also of utmost importance. For more insights on the most popular terms in rental descriptions, check out our separate analysis of The Most Popular Keywords in Descriptions of Homes for Rent.
Top 100 Most Used Real Estate Keywords
The most popular and used words in home descriptions help home seekers build a mental picture of the home and connect the right buyer with their ideal property. In a self-sustaining feedback loop, buyers’ needs and desires shape the features and amenities that homes offer and, in turn, existing homes set the tone when it comes to big trends and buyers’ expectations.
Influenced by last year’s transformative events, the real estate words used in home descriptions are now starting to reflect a different picture. With familiar trends accelerating before our eyes and new trends taking shape, descriptors and phrases are changing faster than ever.
Terms like “home,” “bedroom” and “bathroom” are to be expected. But, once these essential items are eliminated, it’s the remaining words that speak the loudest. Specifically, adjectives like “large” and “new” took the top spots, pointing to buyers’ increasing need for living spaces that offer this year’s most elusive gem: The promise of unencumbered room to roam. Likewise, descriptors like “great,” “beautiful” and “spacious” — also very popular — seemed to reflect the same reorientation toward more spacious, functional living areas.
Top 100 Most Popular Home Features & Amenities
In 2019, “granite countertops,” “hardwood floors” and “stainless steel appliances” dominated the collective imagination of home seekers. Two a years and a pandemic later, home description words paint a different picture: The three most widely encountered home features at the moment are “garage,” “walk-in closet” and “full bath.”
And whether they were in descriptions of houses or condos for sale, four keywords stood out: “garage,” “parking,” “walk-in closet” and “full bath.” More so than “balcony,” “terrace,” “yard” or “pool,” these home features seem to be worth their weight in gold. They represent the perfect distillation of the pandemic reality — one in which everyone was forced to bounce between only two spaces: their home and some people-free patch of nature.
At home, the bathroom transcended its primary function, becoming the only truly private room in a perpetually full home. And, in order to venture outside, the car became indispensable. So, naturally, a garage or a parking space became equally vital.
Even when breaking down the most used keywords by living area, one aspect that stood out was the increase in keywords that promised that extra bit of living space. Mentions of closed-off areas and separate rooms — such as “bonus room,” “laundry room” and “home office” — surged. Similarly, one telling development was that “fireplace” — a highly soothing, relaxing home feature — occupied one of the top spots. This could suggest that many families were trying to turn their living rooms into oases of calm away from the world.
Other examples of newfound features that quickly became vital were “walk-in closet,” “laundry room” and “double vanity” — all of which suggest the same race for that additional elbow room that might make the time spent inside more bearable.
Top 10 Most Popular Real Estate Keywords by Geographic Area
Compared to 2019, it’s clear: No matter the geographic area, “hardwood floors,” “granite countertops” and “stainless steel appliances” — which were the undisputed winners pre-pandemic — have been dethroned.
Instead, “full bath” took the top spot in northeastern, southern and midwestern cities, while “walk-in closet” was the winner in western markets. In all other regions, “parking,” “laundry room” and “washer/dryer” crawled closer to the top spots this year.
Top 10 Most Used Real Estate Keywords by Price
Notably, in the less-than-$100,000 price segment, being one of the most affordable types of home, “mobile home” made an appearance in this category alone, landing at #6. Having a “fenced yard” was also encountered more frequently in this most affordable price category than it was in other home descriptions.
Meanwhile, in the other price categories, 2019’s top three most popular amenities lost their importance in favor of features such as “full bath,” “walk-in closet” and “parking” — which were hot on the heels of the formerly ubiquitous “granite countertops” and “stainless steel appliances.”
The same holds true for homes belonging to very different price ranges: From the more affordable homes in the $250,000-$500,000 range to the more luxurious properties in the $1 million to $5 million price range, “walk-in closet” and “additional bedroom” were two of the most used keywords.
Aside from these two telling keywords, features like “laundry room” or “washer/dryer” also appeared in the top 10 most used words — irrespective of the price tag. However, what did set apart higher-priced properties were mentions of a few amenities that truly spell luxury: “chef kitchen,” “gourmet kitchen,” “back yard,” “pool and spa” and “ocean views.”
Compelling Adjectives Reveal Buyers’ Post-Pandemic Mindset
Complementing the pictures, adjectives set up buyers’ expectations by highlighting the less-conspicuous features and characteristics of a home. In particular, they reveal a home’s personality and vibe.
Many of the adjectives that dominated home descriptions in 2019 also helped portray the new housing reality. However, descriptors such as “new,” “large,” “beautiful” and “spacious” acquired new meanings and nuances for those who were driven to seek another home after experiencing multiple lockdowns — an inconvenience that poked dozens of holes into their previous living arrangements.
For instance, some of the adjectives that gained ground compared to the previous analysis also revealed the acceleration of existing trends: the move toward home features that promise more privacy and seclusion; an existence away from prying eyes; and what has become potentially dangerous human contact. Specifically, descriptors like “private,” “covered,” “quiet,” “separate” and “enclosed” were all among the 100 most used home description terms.