What buyers really want in a home

WHEN buying a home 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. When that comes, securing a great price for your place can hinge on having features buyers will pay for.

Home owners can have very individual tastes. That's fine if you never move, but oddball renovations such as turning kitchen cupboards into a pigeon coop (yes, it's been done) don't just make a place harder to sell, they lower the value.

Finder surveyed home buyers to see what people were willing to pay for. It turned out the majority (65%) of home buyers had 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. Street parking can be inconvenient and as our cars are a big purchase, it makes sense to have secure, undercover parking. Off-street parking can also lower 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.

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 for a pool, 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% 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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