Buying a home is the largest purchase you will ever make and most buyers have a pretty good idea of what features they would like their new home to have. This ‘tick list’ varies over the years and includes some current trends as well as established ‘must haves’. Any property that has them all will certainly be regarded as the dream home by many.
Location, location, location
Location is still top of the list for many. According to a survey of nearly 4,000 home buyers, conducted by The National Association of Home Builders, 68% want a property in the suburbs, whilst 23% prefer a rural setting and 11% the city centre. The key requirement is easy access to the nearby town, both by road and using public transport. A good selection of childcare facilities, schools and colleges in the area is important for families as most want to be able to stay in their new home for a number of years and know full well that their requirements will change as children grow.
Other key requirements when buying a home are local shops and amenities, as well as friendly neighbours. Popular facilities include a good medical centre, walking and jogging trails for keeping trim and other sport venues, attractive parks and a public swimming pool. Many also add easy access to an international airport to the list, so that they can look forward to hassle free travel. Job opportunities in the vicinity are attractive and in recent years environment is regarded as important too, with many younger families opting for a healthier environment by the coast – which used to be mainly the preferred choice of retirees.
The study also found that 65% of home buyers were keen to buy a single storey house, whilst a further 29% preferred two storey properties. The most popular type of property is a detached house with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Older houses with plenty of character are perennially popular and buyers are happy to work on the property to make it ideal for their needs.
High on many home buyers’ tick list is energy efficiency. In a survey carried out by property buying experts Housebuyers4u, it was found that around 52% of home buyers were keen to know what impact the energy consumption of their chosen property would have on the environment. Furthermore, 80% of buyers were seeking a property with central heating and double glazing. Smart home features are becoming increasingly desirable as they provide energy efficiency and the most popular are lighting control systems and programmable thermostats. Appliances with energy star ratings are also important as well as water conserving toilets.
Outdoor living space
Before potential buyers even step inside the property, some 69% will be looking to see if it has a nice garden. Those flat hunting share the sentiment about having private outdoor space and prefer flats with balconies. Gardens have become increasingly important because of the trend to create an outdoor living area with comfortable seating and al fresco dining, as well as increasingly popular hobby of growing fruit and vegetables. Home buyers are also keen to see what parking facilities the property offers – in the suburbs and rural areas a good driveway and double garage is preferred, whilst in towns and city centres off street parking is viewed as essential. Garages are popular not only for cars and storage but because they offer the potential to extend the family home at a later date – often without the requirement for planning permission.
‘The heart of the home’
They say that the kitchen is ‘the heart of the home’ and modern buyers are looking for a large open plan style kitchen with dining area – and few people now look for a separate dining room. Space is essential and buyers are looking for easy clean hardwood floors, granite or natural stone work tops, white stream lined cupboards with good storage options. Central islands are popular too, as well as walk in larders. As the current trend is for clutter-free kitchens where the family can spend time together, separate utility rooms are high on buyers’ ‘tick lists’ as they provide more storage space and of course, the door can be closed on the mountains of family laundry.
Other desirable features that appeal to potential buyers include two bathrooms to avoid queues – with separate showers, as well as baths.
Good storage facilities are high on the list for many and this includes clever storage ideas such as those that use the space under the stairs, wall to ceiling wardrobes, an attic with boarded flooring and a garage with good shelving – these are all viewed as bonuses.
Modern technology of course is now essential to many home buyers and Foxtons found that 59% of potential buyers want a home with good reliable broadband and mobile signal. Superfast broadband using cable or fibre optics is seen as a definite attraction for streaming TV and movies. Security cameras, video doorbells and home security systems are all seen as advantageous especially as they can translate to discounts on the cost of home insurance. However, these are not features that would sway the decision to buy or not to buy.
Interestingly, there are a number of features in a home that were once really popular but are now definitely not. These include cork flooring, wine cellars (except for the rich and famous), home lifts and the once trendy dual toilets in the master bedroom… but they do say ‘what goes round comes around’, so maybe in time they will once again be the great ‘must have.’