What Today's Home Buyer Wants
Three experts share what home buyers look for when shopping for a new home and how you can adapt your home to cater to their wish lists
It’s the baffling question that polarises homeowners: To spend or not to spend? John McManus, a Sydney-based real estate agent at LJ Hooker, says all homes will need some sort of makeover or styling before the first open for inspection. “Even in hot markets, buyers want the best for their money – especially buyers in high price ranges,” he says. “A home that has been updated, styled and well-presented for the market can reach 10 to 15 per cent more when it comes time to sell.” As of March this year, the average home price in Australia sat around $576,100, which means the average homeowner could make an additional $86,415 from the sale of their home if they were to make some simple home improvements.
She advises spending one to two per cent of the property value on renovating or up-styling. “For every dollar you spend, you should expect $2 to $3 in return,” she says. If the home is already in good condition, Youngson suggests considering investing in a professional home styling service, to set it apart from similar homes in the area.
Find a home stylist in your area
KITCHEN AND BATHROOM
For the best return on your renovation, it’s important you choose key features that you yourself would want in a new home. If you consider Houzz Australia’s latest Homeowners Survey (2014), 42 per cent of homeowners would choose to have a designer kitchen over any other feature in their house. This huge response superseded a slim 12 per cent of homeowners that instead preferred a swimming pool. It suggests that a smart kitchen design could be the key to selling your home quickly and at an optimal price.
Rich Harvey, managing director of Property Buyer, an independent buyer’s agency, also suggests spending renovation money on kitchens, but says bathrooms are important, too. “These add real wow factor and are relatively easy to renovate,” he says. “Buyers especially like kitchens in which they can entertain in.” To get the big tick of approval from potential buyers, consider installing a sociable kitchen island, adding some simple stools to a benchtop, or ensuring the dining table is in clear view of the kitchen workspace.
How your bathroom can sell your house
If you’re prepared to make a bit more of an overhaul, McManus notes that in the past four years he’s seen a trend towards a higher desire for open-plan living, which, for some, may require you to make structural changes, or, at least, emphasise open, interconnecting spaces within the home. “Most buyers that I deal with will want an open plan out to a small yard,” he says. “Mum often asks if they can see the kids playing in the backyard from the kitchen, for example – it’s a massive plus.” Harvey agrees, and says removing walls, if possible, to create more open-plan living, is a great way to appeal to today’s market.
It’s best, however, to think of simple remedies before pulling anything down. If you have doors or furniture that zone off areas, consider removing these to open up the space. Does your dining table block the view to the backyard, for instance? Stand in the key zones of your house and see where your eye is drawn, then maximise the best possible view or flow into another zone.
Having said that, if yours is a potential family home, ensure there are still ‘zones’ in which the kids or parents can escape to. “A house needs to have different zones that are functional yet aesthetically pleasing. Parents need quiet space from kids at times and vice versa,” says Harvey.
When it comes to property, first impressions last, and in some cases, they are the only impression you’ll have the chance to give. That’s why your front of house is such an important investment. Whether it’s a new mailbox, trimming overgrown trees, replacing the front blinds or resurfacing a worn driveway, McManus says sometimes something as simple as “a front garden that’s made over with light mulch” can help make your home stand out from the rest.
It may be that your front of house just needs some light maintenance or a good scrub. “A pressure cleaner will be your best friend during this process. You can clean concrete paths and driveways, wash the exterior walls, clean the windows, and wash down the fences,” says Youngson.
17 easy ways to maximise your home’s kerb appeal
According to a survey by LJ Hooker that interviewed 50 of their top agents, cluttered kitchen benches and indoor pet accessories are the biggest turnoff for potential buyers, which is a great insight for sellers, especially those on a tight budget. Remember that you want to appeal to a wide market, so clear out clutter and avoid stamping too much personality onto a space. “If you have a lot of different coloured feature walls, for instance, repaint the house in a neutral colour that appeals to everyone,” says Youngson. The bare bones of the property will be a definite detail in potential buyer’s sights, so present them in their best possible light – that includes floorboards, which may require refinishing, carpets which may need a steam clean, walls that can be repainted, and windows that may simply need a good scrub.
Start packing up now and clear up areas so there’s more breathing space. Essentially, you want people to be able to imagine themselves living in your home comfortably – not picturing how you live within the home.
10-minute styling tricks to make your home look better
Finally, if you’re going to splash the cash, even just a little, do your research. Visit open houses in your area. Harvey even suggests listening out to what buyers are commenting on when inspecting houses. This will help you gauge your area’s buyer profile – do they prefer luxury or practicality, for instance? In addition to this, he says to look at properties online to find out what types of features are common for properties in your local area. “Stone benchtops might be standard in Sydney’s Mosman, for example, but aren’t so much the standard in Melbourne’s Cranbourne,” he says. Knowing what you’re up against will help you set your own benchmark and standard.
Are you looking for a new home? What’s on your wish list? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments.
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