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Deciding deals at face value

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There’s a link between how special a property is and the size of the buyer pool, but appearance is key to speed and final price of house sales ??

While we imagine our home style and design choices are all our own, we’re often influenced by general trends more than we think.

Buying a home is a personal experience so buyers can be influenced by many different factors, says Jonathan Davies, director at Tyson Properties Gauteng.

“For some it’s simply the price. Does the price reflect what the home has to offer or, simply put, does the buyer see 100% of the value?

“Take, say, a property with a tennis court. The avid tennis player will see the value. But someone who does not care for tennis will not appreciate the value, so there might not be a sale.”

Sandy Geffen, executive director of Sotheby’s International Realty South Africa, says although tastes and trends vary, what has not changed is how the appearance of a property can greatly influence the speed and final price achieved in a sale.

“There is a close correlation between the uniqueness of a property and the size of the potential buyer pool. This shrinks substantially the higher the property rates on the ‘interesting’ scale, and this can impact both return on investment and length of time needed to sell.”

Most agents agree the state of kitchens and bathrooms is vital to the selling process. These areas can often make or break a sale. 

Open-plan living and modern kitchens make a difference to homeowners. Kitchens and bathrooms are the most important areas a buyer looks at. Picture: Signatura
Modern kitchens and bathrooms
Some buyers prefer ultra-modern kitchens and high gloss finishes, while others want timeless, neutral kitchens, says Dana Davis, a property consultant at Jawitz Properties Sandton.

“French Provençal-style kitchens are popular as they have a warm homely feel. In terms of bathrooms, buyers like free-standing baths with spacious showers. Double showers are popular.”

Buyers also want clean, uncluttered spaces in the kitchen, with bright or natural colour accents, says Michael Levy, a property consultant at Jawitz Properties Bedfordview.

“Bathrooms should be renovated or as new as possible, featuring large showers and raised cabinets.”
Marble or Caesarstone counters are appealing, as are cupboards with no handles, in the kitchen, bedrooms and bathrooms. Eran Polon, another property consultant at 
Jawitz Properties Sandton, says: “Bathrooms must be roomy with enough space for his-and-hers built-in cupboards and dressing rooms. Fitted appliances need to be a known brand. Imported or local kitchen and bathroom finishes are acceptable, depending on the quality of workmanship.”

Some people prefer ranch-style kitchens while others want clean-lined contemporary ones, says Davies. Generally younger buyers prefer more modern kitchens. 

Juanita du Plessis, estate specialist for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in Pretoria East, says: “We are seeing more emphasis placed on quality kitchen countertops. Marble tops have made a strong comeback, but they’re pricey and not for all budgets. Bathrooms are equally important to buyers who mostly prefer minimalistic designs. Vanities in solid wood are trendy and monochrome colour schemes are popular.”

Light and airy rooms with high ceilings and lots of sunlight are magnets for buyers. Picture: Tyson Properties Gauteng
Open-plan and airy living
Open-plan designs draw buyers and homes should let in a lot of natural sunlight, says Polon. Davis says buyers like large living areas with stack-back doors that open on to the garden.

Levy says: “Open plan is definitely popular. I find buyers often speaking about breaking down walls to open up a space, raising ceilings and wanting steel support beams.”

Agents for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty say a recently listed Norwood home saw roughly 300 internet views in a month, and it sold because of the volume and feeling of lightness and space added by extra-high ceilings.

Added value
Because entertainment is a major consideration for many buyers, entertainment spaces, modern bars, cinema rooms, wine cellars and “man caves” are drawcards, says Polon. Insulation for sound and temperature are also important.

Davis says large covered patios are in demand, allowing people to have “lovely sitting areas with couches as well as a dining table”.

Levy says buyers want good landscaping and off-street parking. Some buyers like bay windows as they give a room a sense of space.
Patios accessed through an open flow from the house and out into the garden are popular. Picture: Jawitz Properties
Unique features
Unique features are also strong magnets for buyers, Davies says.

“This may not always be visible. It could be solar power or a ‘green home’ feature, such as a borehole, solar power or insulation which reduces monthly expenditure. 

More visible attention grabbers often come in the form of Koi ponds or entrance water features.

“Some newer developments are built with energy-saving in mind and have proven to be quite attractive to buyers.”

Buyers often look for that touch of being different, says Kobus Venter and Marc Maron, area specialists for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in Joburg’s Waverley, Oaklands and Norwood.

People want something that sets their home apart. Details like bay windows and perfectly placed balconies can be attractive.

“We have seen some amazing features clinch deals in recent years, including hidden wine cellars, state-of-the-art smart-home automation systems, exquisite entertainment areas, and luxurious spa bathrooms,” says Grahame Diedericks, manager principal for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in Midrand.

Windows 
When it comes to windows, buyers prefer aluminium as they are better insulated and require less maintenance, says Levy. Davis says they also look good.

“Wooden window frames, found in many older homes, are nice but require a lot of upkeep. All the newly built homes have aluminium frames.”

While agreeing that aluminium frames are tops for modern homes with glass and steel finishes, Polon says more traditional or Georgian style homes need wooden 
frames.

“Both designs can be used in stacking doors and windows. Seamless glass doors are favoured when they open up from receptions rooms to the patio and garden.”

Finishes and features
Jawitz agents say that buyers tend to prefer steel, porcelain, and stone finishes. In newer homes, high-gloss kitchens tend to have big porcelain tiles, or tiles that look like wood.

“Vinyl tiles with a wood finish are extremely popular in bathrooms as they are waterproof and look good,” Davies says.

In today’s world, buyers often opt for simplicity and ease of use, and so finishes that are easy to clean and durable are popular.

Davies says while finishes influence a home’s salability, they have their limits in terms of price.

“Even a beautifully finished home with all the bells and whistles is subject to a value or price. As nice as some of these homes can be, if it is overpriced it will not sell, no matter the finish.

“Price and whether the price meets the perceived value is what drives buyers to purchase.”

Independent HOME
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