Why Homes with Dining Rooms still have Timeless Value

As we all prepare for the holiday season, I can’t help but think of how many times clients this past year have asked if they really need a home with a formal or separate dining room.  Even before the pandemic, there were hints that entertaining at home is giving way to eating out with friends. People of all ages eat out far more now than they did twenty or thirty years ago. And when they do entertain at home, many like to hang out or roam in the kitchen and casual living spaces open to the kitchen.  But then again, the number of buyers I’ve worked with who think many open floor plans have become “too open” increased this year.  Floor plans and use of space are incredibly specific to the individual, so there’s no right or wrong answer.

Granted, not all homes have a separate dining room, and I’m not suggesting every home needs or must have one. But when working with buyers of all ages and budget levels this year, I regularly get the question  “Are dining rooms still a thing?” or “If I buy a home with a dining room will it hold its value down the road?”  Location and price points matter on this feature, but generally I say yes. Here’s why I think they have timeless value and are worth the effort and cost for both home buyers and sellers.

Space = Options

The COVID 19 pandemic reminded all of us just how important it was to have any extra space in our homes. And those who were fortunately enough to have a separate or formal dining room quickly realized just how valuable that space “we only use a few times a year” really was. Most people I know quickly turned their dining room tables into makeshift classrooms or offices or a combination of both (and then some) during quarantine. Others went further, swapping out furniture to use the room as a temporary bedroom for those banished to quarantine or for extended family and friends who moved in to share resources and support.  I still see them being used as a playroom or exercise room with no plans for change in immediate future.  Yet the option is there, if needed.

Space offers us options. And when life happens, is it possible to have too many options?

Options = Value

The pandemic also pushed buyers to buy homes with the most space possible. Inside and out, buyers have spent the last three years paying at or above asking prices for as much square footage and acreage they can afford.  Most want the option of extra space they can use to set up a home office or in case they ever get stuck at home again for whatever reason.  And a three-bedroom two-bath home with a separate dining room may be more affordable in some areas than a four-bedroom home in others areas.

Ultimately buyers who need more defined space such as an office or extra bedroom have more options with a floor plan that includes a separate dining room than one that doesn’t. Formal or not, I find most buyers want to spend every penny and every square inch as far as possible. And now more than ever, they want as much space and options as they can get for their money.

Function = Resale Value

So to buyers and sellers who continue to ask, “Do I have to have a formal dining room or can I remodel and use it as a bedroom?”  I say no – and it depends.

I say no in that it’s your house and you can use that space however you like.  Just remember when it’s time to sell, your goal will be to appeal to the needs of as many buyers as you can.  Like you, buyers may be looking for options and want to use the space differently than you have. Depending on the market and the floor plan, it might be best to leave it set up as a home office.  But often homes with enough space to include a formal or separate dining room may seem out of scale without one.  Especially at certain price points and neighborhoods. In that case, setting the room back up to function as a dining area that’s in line with the décor and scale of the rest of the house may be needed to achieve full resale value.

No one knows what the future holds.  But, we do know changing furniture is a lot easier and usually less expensive in time and money than changing walls. I recommend buyers compare the potential cost to remodel twice to the return on investment (ROI) of making any structural changes to the floor plan before buying. If changes made to the floor plan and general flow of the home make that property out of step with other homes in that neighborhood, it may create challenges for resale later.

Trendy vs Classic Style

Which is it?  A year ago, most “Home Trends 2022” projected some version of “the return of the traditional dining room but with modern twists.”  And the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports 43 percent of millennials prefer the look and feel of an open, more causal entertaining concept layout than many older buyers. Yet scroll through any home décor blog (and endless affiliate links to popular stores!).  You’ll find endless inspiration for beautiful tablescapes throughout the year.  Dining rooms are still every where!

Trends by definition will come and go.  A classic, however, will hold value over time.  I predict a separate dining room area – formal or not – will continue to hold value in our local market.  Again, I’m not saying every home needs or must have one.  In fact, it’s just not an option at some price points.  But having a separate dining room with modern touches offers more options to a wide range of buyers.  As a result, dining rooms will continue to be a thing for the immediate future in our market area.

What do you think?

I’m anxious to see what trends are projected for 2023 and will continue to watch how this plays out locally.   If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home in 2023, I would love to hear your thoughts on this.  Just reach out at dawnlong@sckyrealestate.com.


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