What ‘Great Bones’ Really Means

“This house has great bones.” As a real estate professional, you’ve heard the phrase countless times. You’ve probably even uttered it more than once. But what do we really mean when we say a house has great bones?

It’s a feature that all buyers want, but few can define. Understanding how to identify qualities that add up to the coveted “great bones” feeling can help you set your listing apart.  Recently, Architectural Digest’s Lindsey Mather asked a handful of designers to get specific about the qualities that give a home this elusive quality.  Here are a few distinct items to look for:

Good flow: Check how it feels to simply walk through the home. Do the rooms make sense next to each other, or do they seem choppy or lopsided? Alabama decorator William McLure says architects and designers often rely on symmetry and mirrored design elements to offer a feeling of balance to residential spaces. “It makes the layout of the house not look like an afterthought,” he says. “You want rooms that look well planned and that structurally make sense.”

All the little things: Here’s where your macro lens comes in handy: The intricate details and architectural features that make a listing stand out in the eyes of buyers are often too small to see in a wide-angle property tour photo. Fancy plaster, original fireplaces, bespoke ceiling beams, thick moldings, and vintage lighting and hardware are all worth the time to fawn over in your listing descriptions. Also, any windows that are out-of-the ordinary can really help a place stand out as different.

Plenty of headroom: Sometime we use “good bones” to refer to elements that are hard to change, according to New York–based interior designer Alyssa Kapito. “A room or a house with great bones for us has high ceilings, tall windows, and is generally well proportioned,” she says. “Everything decorative can be rather easily switched, but it’s quite difficult and expensive to get those three items on your checklist if they aren’t already there.” Make sure you check for drop ceilings, though. Good bones sometimes hide under tiles and panels.

When You’re Buying a Home, Look for These 4 Signs,” Architectural Digest (Aug. 9, 2017)

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