Paul Clitheroe
Paul Clitheroe

What home buyers really want

BUYING a home is one time when we often think with our heart rather than our head.

That can be risky because chances are at some stage you'll want to sell up and upgrade to your next home.  When that time comes, securing a great price for your current place can hinge on having the sorts of features buyers are willing to pay for.

Having been to a more than a few Open Home inspections I can honestly say home owners can have very individual tastes. That's fine if you never plan on moving but oddball renovations like turning kitchen cupboards into a pigeon coup (yes it's been done) don't just make a place harder to sell, they can also detract from the property's market value.

Research group Finder recently surveyed home buyers to see which features people are willing to pay for. It turns out the overwhelming majority (65%) of home buyers have air conditioning at the top of their wish lists.

Not far behind, 60% of respondents ranked a carport or garage as the number one home feature. That makes a lot of sense. Off-street parking can be inconvenient, and as our cars are a big ticket purchase, it makes sense to have secure, undercover parking. Off-street parking can also help lower your car's comprehensive insurance premiums.

A backyard, cited by 52% of respondents, rounded out the top three home must-haves. It's worth noting that one in three buyers look for homes with solar panels.

If you're planning renovations, think carefully. The survey also revealed the home features that don't cut the mustard with buyers.

If you're about to fork out tens of thousands of dollars sinking a pool in the garden, be aware fewer than one in five people want one.

And if you plan on spending the weekend adding a built-in barbecue to your place, don't expect it to beef up your home's value. Only 4 per cent of Australians are interested in a permanent barbecue. In fact, the humble barbie ranks only slightly above garden gnomes, which oddly, make the must-have list of 2% of home buyers.

The evergreen factors to look for in a home that will grow in value are the quality of the suburb, the character of the street, and the home's position on the block. There's plenty you can change about the building itself but these factors, unlike garden gnomes, are set in cement.

Paul Clitheroe is a founding director of financial planning firm ipac, Chairman of the Australian Government Financial Literacy Board and chief commentator for Money Magazine.


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