As the real estate market rebounds, those who recently sat on the fence are venturing out to look, and perhaps buy.

Preferred new home features

White kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities have made a comeback. In kitchens, they sometimes are paired with those that have darker wood tones.

Granite, having come down in price, is being used in more kitchens and baths.

Stainless steel is the preferred finish for kitchen appliances. Some new homes will have black ones.

Energy-saving features such as tankless hot-water heaters are more important to buyers than ever.

Pendant lights are preferred for kitchen islands, but recessed lights for other family areas.

Features found in kitchens and baths are as important to buyers as they were before the market went south.

However, consumers are much more interested in features that result in efficient use of energy, says Mike Boyle, operations vice president, Ryland Homes; Kris Kordonowy, operations manager, Carolina One New Homes Division; and Wally Seinsheimer, president, Dolphin Architects and Builders.

One feature still is the open floor plan, but it’s not the only thing.

“Tankless hot water heaters almost have become standard,” Seinsheimer says. “Before, it was something we had to sell (buyers). Now, they are coming in and asking for it.”

Kordonowy focused on the mid-priced homes at the Ponds, a Summerville community.

She says being convinced a house has the energy-saving features needed to curb utility costs as much as possible often is the “trigger point” for those who decide to buy.

It’s an important consideration for those considering a purchase at Carolina Park in Mount Pleasant, too, says Boyle.

Yet, buyers are thinking of more than air-tight insulation, energy-efficient windows and whether there is a radiant shield under the roof.

They also are paying attention to those easy-to-see things that contribute to a home’s feel and character; those visual cues that speak to them.

Those looking at Carolina Park or the Ponds are seeing cement plank exteriors in the $300,000-plus price range communities, Boyle and Kordonowy say. Potential buyers won’t see any vinyl siding.

In kitchens, stainless steel appliances still are what homebuyers at middle and higher price points indicate they want, and get.

Smooth surfaces, meaning granite or composite stone made with resin and requiring less care, still are preferred for counters.

Granite, which now is less expensive than it was before the downturn, reigns.

When it comes to kitchen cabinets in mid-priced homes being marketed in communities, think white.

Many actually are shades of cream with faux finishes, glazes and distressed looks.

Backsplashes are getting second looks with the use of white subway or glass tiles, the former a nod to the past. Faucets and handles usually are brushed nickel or oil-rubbed bronze.

In the bath, builders have moved away from cultured marble, which made a bit of a return as the economic downturn set in, Boyle says. The hard surfaces used for kitchen counters are preferred in baths as well.

Raised bath cabinetry is found in homes at Carolina Park.

Inset sinks are a popular option in some subdivisions such as the Ponds, where vanities with dual sinks are meeting favor with buyers (as are dual closets in master bedrooms).

Again, faucets and handles typically are brushed nickel or oil-rubbed bronze.

Floors being shown in Carolina Park mostly are wood and often have a hand-scraped look, a nod to the past, says Boyle.

At the Ponds, wood and tile both are popular fea- tures and buyers in some cases can choose bamboo, an environmentally friendly product.

Seinsheimer says fewer buyers are requesting homes with multistory rooms. But they still want 10- and 11-foot ceilings because they give homes a more spacious feel.

At Ryland, there is an interest in added rooms to accommodate aging parents or boomerang children.

It’s being met by adding a bath to what in earlier homes might only have been a bonus room reached by stairs from the second floor, says Don McDonough, division president at Ryland.

Of all the buyer considerations, though, cost is usually the most important thing, says Seinsheimer.

“People are still cautious about how much they are going to spend,” he says. “The last downturn created some prudence even in the high end of the market.”

Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705.