REALTOR® Roundtable: Does a house really need a fireplace?
Recently, NC REALTORS® Community Outreach Director Nicole Arnold posed a question to real estate professionals on the topic of fireplaces. This fun discussion on Facebook proved that even a small feature, like a fireplace, can cause a lot of debate and potentially impact a homebuyer’s decision to buy or not to buy a home.
Nicole Arnold: If you could design your ideal home for today’s market, would you include a fireplace or kill it?
Lolita Malave: I would have a fireplace in the dining room or master bedroom. The den would be the very last option.
Nicole Arnold: Interesting, Lolita. Yet most homes place the fireplace in the den or living room. Do you think house designers are realizing that this placement is a poor option? Are people tired of looking up so high at the TV over the fireplace?
Jeff Benfield: I would have a fireplace, but not in the center of the room.
Nicole Arnold: Jeff, I have a friend who is a teacher who complains that we all watch too much television and give the TV too much importance. She would like your design. I am seeing more corner fireplaces and some house layouts without fireplaces altogether, perhaps because of this sentiment.
Sandra O’Connor: You always have to have a fireplace.
Stacy Hiers: I’m not a fireplace fan, personally.
Nicole Arnold: Wow! There are two opposite opinions from REALTORS® with deep buyer-client experience. I can do without a fireplace because I am a lover of efficiency.
Marcia Bradford (Palm Beach REALTOR® and NC vacation homeowner): In your state, I’ve noticed that people really want fireplaces.
Nicole Arnold: I am totally outnumbered on this. Tradition is winning in this unofficial fireplace survey.
Connie Corey: In our market, buyers like the fireplace and will hang the television over top. Some buyers still like the mantel area for portraits, art and so on. I don’t think the chimney is a big deal anymore.
Nicole Arnold: Connie, that is a big insight, and brings up a separate but related topic. What about chimneys? We live in an age where chimneys and fireplaces are not absolutely tied together. Does the ideal home need a chimney today? Losing the chimney could free up a small amount of square footage.
Maurice Brown, NC REALTORS® Partners Program Coordinator: A ventless natural gas fireplace is the way to go.
Nicole Arnold: I like the cost-savings of natural gas fireplaces, and they can heat up rooms very quickly.
Jeff: I have a ventless fireplace. Without a vent of some kind, the exhaust goes into the house. This isn’t good and can cause the fire alarms to go off once in a while.
Nicole Arnold: Good point, Jeff. So ventless, although pretty and seemingly convenient, may turn out to be inconvenient.
Nicole Rafferty: I have a vent on the side of the house for my natural gas fireplace. However, I would love to have a wood burning fireplace with a chimney.
Nicole Arnold: Real fireplaces provide authenticity that can’t be beat. But they can be really messy to clean up after. Nicole, you and I will go in together and buy a mountain home with a “real fireplace” and chimney for our families, okay?
Nicole Rafferty: I’m in!
Connie Corey: The exhaust for fireplaces needs to be where someone cannot get burned.
Nicole Arnold: Great point.
Connie Corey: I find that buyers would rather spend money on interiors than on a chimney.
Nicole Arnold: I see the logic of that sentiment, Connie. I’m trying to think of drawbacks to losing the chimney. I can’t think of any.
Marcia Bradford: Nicole, you have small children. How will Santa Claus get in the house?
Nicole Arnold: I did not see that argument coming, but now I realize that yes, small children may be very concerned that Old Saint Nick cannot come down through a chimney.
Maurice Brown: There are magic keys for that.
Nicole Arnold: Maurice, this is ingenious! So, now we know that you don’t need a chimney or a fireplace to have a modern home. But REALTORS® must listen to their clients to see if they want traditional options or if they can forget this amenity. REALTORS® have a hard job, trying to balance so many competing buyer desires. Thanks to all who participated in this roundtable discussion.
If you have an idea that would make for a great discussion for a REALTOR® Roundtable, please contact Nicole Arnold. In the meantime, Nicole is researching a new trend in selling homes. Have you ever had a seller who installed cameras or activated nannycams in order to spy on potential buyers during an Open House? Let Nicole know what you think about this trend.