29 Design Features That Helped Starter Homes Sell For More Than Expected

coffered ceilings can increase home value

Home buyers — especially first-time buyers shopping for entry-level homes — can expect to pay a significant premium for houses with listings that tout popular farmhouse or craftsman-inspired features.

How do we know this? We poured over listing descriptions for millions of entry-level homes — defined as those priced within the bottom third of the market — to see how certain home features, amenities and design styles affected sale price.

While a farmhouse sink or butcher block counters may appeal to many millennials and first-time buyers, not everyone may want to pay the premium those features may command.

And guess what we found? Starter homes that mentioned “coffered ceiling,” “claw-foot tub” or “farmhouse sink” in their listing descriptions sold for as much as 29 percent above expected values. And when it comes to architectural style, any home described as a "craftsman" performed better than any other style analyzed. Even though Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Fixer Upper TV show may be over, their farmhouse chic style has certainly had an impact on home trends, especially among first-time home buyers in search of starters.

Energy efficient features also command high premiums among entry-level homes. Homes that mentioned “solar panels” sold for as much as 40 percent more than expected.

“In today’s competitive housing market, understanding what homes may command a premium or attract multiple offers can be hugely beneficial to buyer,” says Jeremy Wacksman, Zillow Group chief marketing officer. “However, it’s important to keep in mind which features or amenities matter most to you in a home. While a farmhouse sink or butcher block counters may appeal to many millennials and first-time buyers, not everyone may want to pay the premium those features may command.”

Here is a list of the top 29 features that resulted in a starter home selling for more than expected:

1. Solar panels

Homes sold for 40 percent more than expected

Although exact energy savings is determined by the size of the unit, direct hours of daily sunlight, roof size and more, solar panels are viewed as an “upgrade” and can significantly increase the value of a home.

2. Craftsman

Homes sold for 34 percent more than expected

An architectural style that grew out of the Arts and Crafts movement of the late 19th century. Features of a craftsman-style home include a non-symmetrical facade, a low-pitched front-gable roof that is supported by square porch columns, double-hung windows, a battened door and high wainscot that blends seamlessly with doors and windows.

3. Coffered ceiling

Homes sold for 29 percent more than expected

A ceiling design that features deeply recessed, often elaborately decorated, panels. Used for decorative purposes today, coffering was originally employed by the Greeks and Romans to support heavy stone roofs.

4. Claw-foot tub

Homes sold for 29 percent more than expected

Most popular during the Victorian era and originally fashioned of cast-iron and porcelain, this free-standing tub style is said to have originated in Holland, inspired by a Chinese design motif.

5. Mid-century

Homes sold for 28 percent more than expected

A design movement that gained momentum after World War II, mid-century (modern) design relies on clean lines, open floor plans and walls of glass. Ranch and split-level home styles are examples of mid-century modern design.

6. In-law

Homes sold for 28 percent more than expected

A suite within a home or a stand-alone structure that offers accommodations for aging parents. Often referred to as a “granny flat,” this unit may include a living room, a bedroom, a kitchen area and a separate entrance for privacy.

7. Landscape/path/outdoor/deck lighting

Homes sold for 26 percent more than expected

An “outdoor room,” a living space the blurs the line between interior and exterior space, may take the form of a conversation area, a kitchen or a simple reading nook, furnished with weather-resistant decor.

8. Exposed beam or ceiling

Homes sold for 26 percent more than expected

A ceiling type in which second floor supports, roof beams or rafters are exposed. Beams may be fashioned from timber or concrete.

9. Farmhouse sink

Homes sold for 26 percent more than expected

This apron-front, drop-in sink style is inspired by early designs fashioned to hold large amounts of water and accommodate oversized pots and pans.

10. Wainscot

Homes sold for 26 percent more than expected

A finish originally applied to the lower portion of an interior wall to prevent air infiltration, wainscot is now used for decorative purposes.

11. Fire pit

Homes sold for 25 percent more than expected

An extension of the outdoor room, a fire pit may be freestanding and crafted of steel, bronze or cast-iron or a hardscaped element.

12. Central vac

Homes sold for 25 percent more than expected

A built-in vacuuming system that includes a canister, usually installed in a remote part of the house, piping that directs dirt and debris to the canister and a hose that can be installed in one of many inlets installed throughout the house.

13. Pergola

Homes sold for 25 percent more than expected

A simple latticed garden structure — often covered with vining plants — that is used to shade a path or walkway.

14. Mudroom

Homes sold for 24 percent more than expected

A home entrance that serves as a transition space between the outdoors and interior spaces. Mudrooms often feature seating, coat racks and built-in storage to accommodate boots, backpacks and more.

15. Tankless water heater

Homes sold for 24 percent more than expected

Also known as an on-demand heater, a tankless heater, rather than storing and continuously heating a large supply of water, heats water only when needed.

16. Playroom

Homes sold for 23 percent more than expected

A room in a home that is dedicated to children. Playrooms became popular in the early part of the 20th century as specially designed spaces to stimulate children.

17. Heated floor; radiant heat

Homes sold for 23 percent more than expected

An eco-friendly heating system that radiates warmth throughout the home via a network of tubing or cables installed underneath the floor. Underfloor heating systems can be powered by water or electricity.

18. Exposed brick

Homes sold for 23 percent more than expected

A design element drawn from retrofitted warehouse interiors, exposed brick lends rusticity to interior spaces. An alternative to drywall removal, walls may be clad in brick veneer to create focal points

19. Quartz

Homes sold for 23 percent more than expected

A popular kitchen countertop material, this manmade surface (90 percent quartz mixed with resin, polymers and pigment) is heat resistant, non-porous and durable.

20. Home theater

Homes sold for 23 percent more than expected

A room in a home designed in the style of a movie house and dedicated to home entertainment. A home theater system incorporates wireless surround sound, electronics and source components with interior design elements that support acoustics.

21. Barn door

Homes sold for 23 percent more than expected

A utilitarian door design used to cover barn, stable and garage entrances. Modern interior barn doors, often crafted from salvaged building materials, may operate via a sliding “top hung” system.

22. Shaker cabinet

Homes sold for 23 percent more than expected

A kitchen design style that draws inspiration from original Shaker furniture, crafted by members of a small religious sect that believed in simple, communal living. Hallmarks of this style include functionality and simplicity.

23. Gas furnace

Homes sold for 23 percent more than expected

A home heating system favored for its efficiency, cost savings and ability to pair with the home’s cooling system. Gas heat wasn’t readily adopted in the U.S. until the 1930s-1940s.

24. Outdoor kitchen

Homes sold for 23 percent more than expected

An outdoor room that may include a built-in grilling station, a fully functioning sink, a refrigerator and a dining area.

25. Hardwood

Homes sold for 22 percent more than expected

Whether fashioned from cherry, oak or maple, hardwood flooring is considered strong, durable and timeless.

26. Jacuzzi tub

Homes sold for 21 percent more than expected

Jet-powered whirlpool baths grew in popularity during the 1960s and, today, portable, energy efficient styles feature sophisticated programming, lighting systems and tech integration.

27. Outdoor fireplace or pit

Homes sold for 21 percent more than expected

Fashioned from clay or masonry, an outdoor fireplace may be gas-powered or wood burning, free standing or incorporated into an outdoor kitchen.

28. Picket fence

Homes sold for 21 percent more than expected

A fence formed from a series of pointed vertical posts, this fence style became popular during the Victorian era.

29. Butcher block

Homes sold for 20 percent more than expected

A type of countertop material that is durable and lends warmth to kitchen design. Countertops are most often fashioned from oak or maple.