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What homebuyers want

THE market is a somewhat simple beast when it comes to ownership because there are generally, two sorts of purchasers – homebuyers and investors.

Now your dyed-in-the-wool investor who can set aside emotion should be easy to understand. They love the numbers and want to see a capital growth rate that performs like a diva testing her upper register, with a cascading cash flow to boot.

But the high-art of property success lies in a more subtle understanding of our nation’s biggest buyer base – homeowners.

Why bother with homeowners?

Australian Bureau of Statistics numbers prove homeowners are the dominant force in Australian property.

As at the 2011 census, 67 per cent of the 7.76 million dwellings in Australia were inhabited by the homeowner, with detached dwellings making up the vast majority of that number.

When the time eventually comes to sell, it’s a foolish vendor who ignores two-thirds of the market place, so it pays to understand the hopes, dreams and desires of homeowners.

Another great thing about homeowners from a seller’s perspective – they often buy with their heart and not with their head. Homes can be bigger than the sum of their parts – those with the homeowner X-factor have buyers sheepdogging across one another in order to purchase. This spells big returns for a vendor.

One size fits who?

Home is where the heart is and where you lay your hat. None of those poetic definitions provides dimensions, descriptions or guidelines for the perfect home because, well, there isn’t one! They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. But while we can’t determine which individuals desire a particular shade of puce on the feature wall, who wants a rumpus room and who will pay a premium for turrets and a drawbridge, we can apply some simple guidelines to help maximise the dollars.

  1. Homes that fit lifestyle

Each to his own most certainly, but the one thing homeowners can agree on is that their homes should adapt to their lifestyles, and that means determining who the most likely homebuyer is in your suburb of interest.

Simply look at the types of properties trading within your area. Is it a market where a flat backyard, more than four bedrooms and plenty of open plan (plus separate spaces) are on offer? Are you in a cashed up professional zone where two-bedders on low maintenance blocks are the go? Perhaps it’s a lock-and-go retiree haven where issues around security and single-level living are key?

Take a look at what type of resident populates the community, and think about the features most appropriate to them. Here’s a hint – have a look at the dominant type of home advertised for sale on your favourite portal in your suburb. These will help highlight the buyer base.

  1. Homes that fit a budget

This can be a bit tricky to negotiate. Sure, you’re striving for an ‘emotional buyer premium’, but you must also be price sensitive. This is where dogged research around comparable sales and listing competition comes into play.

Homeowners will be more accepting of overcapitalisation than investors, but unless you’re on the upper North Shore and looking to break price records with your avant-garde

designs (a high-risk strategy by the way), make sure you’re priced appropriately to attract interest.

  1. Homes that fit personality and taste

Décor is a personal preference without doubt, but suburbs can have their own style. Are you among Mid-century Modern renovation prospects? Perhaps some well-chosen furniture will highlight the open-plan appeal. Are you among the historic terrace homes of the inner city? Retaining the appropriate colonial features is a must.

Keep your décor ‘location appropriate’, but if in doubt, go conservative. Neutral colours open up possibilities for homebuyers to add their own style.

  1. Homes with potential

Homeowners aren’t entirely impractical. They’ll be thinking about their future selves and the wants of a growing household. In most instances, they’re also going to consider resale down the track and will look at ways to justify their purchase in light of this.

Highlight your property’s potential. Could it be raised for extra accommodation? Does the zoning allow for development down the track? Will a carport out front free up square meterage in the garage? Make potential part of your pitch to bring in the perfect purchaser.

  1. Property fundamentals

There are some dominant dream home elements among most homeowner’s lists.

Land – Regular shaped, wide frontage, generally flat, large north facing back yard – and decent views help up the price too.

Dwelling – Solid construction where ongoing maintenance is not a problem, well-proportioned rooms, functional spaces with good utility, indoor/outdoor living and lock-up car accommodation where possible.

Site improvement – Fencing, driveway and landscaping as a minimum. The best gauge here for anything extra is to look over the fence at your neighbour’s yards. Has everyone got a pool in the street? Might be good to know that before you fork out the cost.

Position – While it will make a home cheaper, most owners don’t want to be fronting a main road or train line, or be traversed by high tension power lines (unless your visiting Bonnie Doon from The Castle)

Location – close to transport networks, retail and convenience facilities. Desirable school zones are a very big-ticket item for families as well – but more about that in future posts.

If you’re looking to make the most money from your property sale, homeowners and their wants must factor into your strategy.


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