Every home buyer has differing priorities of what’s important to them when looking for their next home. There are certainly some current trends in what people look for in a property, but an attribute that is critical to one buyer, could be totally irrelevant to another. What IS certain however, is that almost all buyers place practicality ahead of aesthetics when making a purchase decision.
Once a decision is made about “where” to buy, it becomes a matter of “which property”. Most buyers generally have four or five “must have” features in a home that they won’t compromise on. After the “must haves”, there is generally a longer list of “nice to” haves, but these tend to be more negotiable. If a property ticks the “must have” and many of the “nice to have” boxes, buyers turn their attention to whether anything represents a sufficient “turn off” to stop them making an offer.
To give yourself the best chance at selling at the highest price and in the shortest period, you should ensure that you highlight the positive aspects of your home (the “turn ons”) and where possible, eliminate or reduce the impact of any negative attributes (The “turn offs”).
In our opinion, the following represent some of the key trends in “turn ons” and “turn offs” for discerning buyers.
1. Outdoor space
For many buyers, outdoor space is increasingly important as the garden is generally seen as an extension of our living space. Size and aspect of the outdoor area are both important, with South and West facing gardens being particularly attractive.
2. Room to expand
Buying a home is an expensive and at times, stressful process and not something that your average person wants so to repeat every couple of years. Any home that meets a buyers current needs and also offers flexibility for future expansion will be particularly attractive. The opportunity to increase liveable space through a loft conversion, extension, garage conversion etc is a strong selling feature of any home.
3. Energy efficiency
Without doubt, we are becoming more aware of the impact our homes have on the environment. Buyers also recognise that an efficient home is going to be a cheaper home to run. Buyers will likely take a close look at boilers, radiators, quality of windows, loft insulation etc.
4. Home working
The increasing trend towards flexible working means that many buyers are now looking for a property that allows for a home office or work space. This requirement translates into not only the space needed to establish an office, but ensuring there is sufficient internet and mobile reception to be able to work from home efficiently.
5. Quality kitchens and bathrooms
A quality kitchen and bathroom still represent strong selling attributes. At the end of the day, most other rooms in a house are typically four walls, a window and a door. It’s hard to put too much of a “wow factor” into a living room or bedroom (although size, floor covering, decorative condition are all important). The real wow factor tends to be in the kitchen and bathrooms, where quality fixtures and fittings can make any home stand out.
6. Open plan living
Highly compartmentalised homes are no longer high on people’s agenda and home buyers are increasingly looking for living space that flows seamlessly from one area to another. This is particularly the case when it comes to the kitchen and dining areas. We all enjoy socialising and entertaining and, having a living space that supports this lifestyle is particularly appealing. Open plan living is also a consideration for young families, as it allows busy parents to keep an eye on children more easily.
7. Safety and privacy
While a buyer might want to integrate into the community and be social with neighbours, they generally also want to ensure their privacy and safety.
1. Internet and phone reception
We live in a modern and connected world where access to high speed internet and mobile phone coverage is now considered essential. Having poor quality data and mobile accessibility could potentially turn off buyers.
2. Small or dark rooms
Dark and smaller rooms tend to create a claustrophobic feeling. If this is a problem in your home, then do everything you can to brighten rooms up. This can be achieved by being minimalistic with furniture, choosing neutral wall colours and exposing as much of the windows as possible. If the room is very small, think about whether it can be “opened up” to any adjoining room.
3. A poorly looked after neighbouring property
Neighbouring properties that are poorly looked after can be a big turn off to buyers. Kerb appeal is important and no matter how smart your home looks, if the adjoining property is pretty "shabby" it’s certainly going to weigh on the mind of a potential buyer.
4. Limited Parking
Let’s face it, traffic congestion and parking aren’t getting any easier in the UK. If your property doesn’t come with dedicated parking space, it can be a real turn off. If you can't provide a dedicated parking space with your home, ensure you have a compelling story of what can be done to park "on street" or in other public areas.
5. Lack of storage space
People generally don’t want to store bikes in the hall or the pushchair in the kitchen. It’s no fun living in an obstacle course. If you are preparing your home for sale, have a spring clean and thin out some of the cupboards so it looks like there is plenty of storage space. Buyers tend to open cupboards and, if each one is bursting at the seams, it will potentially be a cause for concern.
6. Poor quality DIY
Some buyers are willing to undertake home improvement projects and some are more reluctant. Where a house has been recently renovated (which is reflected in the asking price), a buyer will generally take a critical look at the quality of what has been done. Nobody wants to pay top price for a new kitchen and bathroom if it is evident (or becomes evident on survey) that it is going to cost a lot of money to redo a “bodge job”.
Home buying is a very personal matter and there is no consistency of what people are looking for. When getting your home ready to sell, do everything you can to highlight the positives and where possible, to address anything that could detract a buyer. At the end of the day, you can only work within the parameters of the actual size and features of your home and, whatever those attributes are, you just need the right buyer to "walk through the door".