Real estate agents and home buyers list fireplaces as one of their most sought-after features.
As fireplaces bring a luxurious feel to a house, they often appear on a home buyer’s wanted-features list. They can also increase a home’s value. The National Association of Realtors conducted a 2013 survey of homeowners’ desire for a fireplace. Participants listed fireplaces as one of their most sought-after features, with 40 percent stating that they would pay extra if the home had one. Likewise, the National Center for Real Estate Research discovered in its study that “fireplaces have a strong, positive effect on selling price with each fireplace adding about 12 percent.”
Our real estate agents revealed a similar sentiment. Most agreed that a fireplace does indeed increase a home’s value. Almost 70 percent of the agents say they see some kind of value increase if a home contains a fireplace. When asked about which kinds of fireplaces home buyers preferred, the majority say gas-burning fireplaces. Wood-burning came in a close second, followed by electric.
Value of Indoor and Outdoor Fireplaces
For centuries, indoor fireplaces served as the centerpiece of homes, but recent trends in home building indicate the growing prevalence of outdoor fireplaces, especially in luxury homes. The National Association of Home Builders recognizes this growing trend,notingthat an outdoor fireplace can increase a home’s value by an average of $3,500. Who doesn’t love the idea of spending a summer evening in the backyard, cozied up in front of a roaring fire, swapping stories with friends?
We decided to ask the real estate agents that we surveyed how outdoor fireplaces trend in regard to increasing home values. Nearly 80 percent say both indoor and outdoor fireplaces increase a home’s value by anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000. They also say that when it comes to luxury homes, outdoor fireplaces count as a must-have.
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How Fireplaces Make You Feel
We searched Instagram for #fireplace so we could analyze the words and phrases most commonly used to describe them. Fireplaces tend to evoke deeper feelings in people — beyond the idea that they simply provide a source of heat. Not only do people see fireplaces as homey, but they also equate them with luxurious living spaces.
The word cloud above reveals top descriptors such as “love,” “cozy” and “home.” These words reinforce the emotion associated with fireplaces. Phrases such as “luxury real-estate” also made the cut, reminding us that upscale accommodations and fireplaces go together quite well.
Paying Extra for a Fireplace
It’s quite clear that fireplaces add a sense of luxury and warmth to a home, bringing value and desirability. In 2015, Realtor.com found that a fireplace was the No. 1 feature most often mentioned in home listings. But do homeowners and buyers really agree? While many of those surveyed didn’t want to pay more than an extra $5,000, more than 60 percent of homeowners and buyers say they definitely look for a fireplace when purchasing a home.
Desired Types of Fireplaces
What kinds of fireplaces do people ideally want in a home? It seems most people still love the timeless wood-burning fireplace. As gas-burning fireplaces have evolved, however, they have also risen in popularity. Realtor.com reports that gas-burning fireplaces are starting to eclipse wood-burning on its clients’ top-features lists.
Our research supports this rising trend. More than 20 percent of the respondents classify gas-burning as their favorite. Still, wood-burning remained the group’s overall preference. Younger generations expressed more interest in gas-burning than older. While respondents pointed to wood-burning as more popular in states with colder climates; gas-burning and electric saw higher numbers in warmer states. Overall, however, wood-burning leads the trend, regardless of who owns the home or its location.
Fireplace Maintenance & Safety
Now that we’ve established the importance of fireplaces for homeowners and buyers, let’s look at maintenance. House fires affect many Americans, and they need to be taken into consideration when buying a home with a fireplace.
We excluded home buyers and asked only our homeowners who described their fireplace as a fire hazard to tell us how often they serviced their fireplaces, and we followed up with a question about how important they felt servicing was to the safety of their fireplaces and homes. Interestingly enough, most say they didn’t service their fireplaces regularly; however, they also say that they did understand the importance of doing so.
More than 45 percent of our homeowners never serviced their fireplaces, yet the National Association of Home Builders advises homeowners to get their chimneys and fireplaces inspected annually by a CSIA-certified chimney sweep to decrease the risk of a house fire. Experts say a buildup of creosote in chimneys causes almost 25,000 fires per year — so this is one aspect of spring cleaning that you don’t want to overlook. Shop around until you find someone who fits your budget and delivers a thorough report.
Fireplaces Still Make a House a Home
Fireplaces remain a hot commodity — especially wood-burning and gas-burning fireplaces. Potential home buyers and sellers definitely take their value into consideration. But no one wants to buy a house with a broken, dirty or downright dangerous fireplace.
Think your fireplace could use a cleaning, or want to get that unsightly crack repaired? Join Angie’s List to find highly rated professionals in your area so you can finally enjoy that fireplace without worry. After all, a fireplace is about making your house feel like a home: cozy, luxurious and safe.
We surveyed 100 real estate agents to learn more about home values and fireplaces. We also surveyed 2,000 homeowners and home buyers to find out how they felt about the value of different fireplaces. For the word cloud, we scraped Instagram to find the words most commonly used in posts containing #fireplace.