While location is still king when it comes to driving up real estate prices, there’s something else that encourages buyers to pay more – even if they may not realise it.
It turns out that a good, functional floor plan can make a property stand out from the crowd and have buyers fighting over it.
If a house or apartment has what architects call “good front-to-back flow”, it’s much more likely to surpass average market prices.
What exactly is ‘good flow’, anyway? “It’s having a direct path from the front to the back of the home that is not interrupting other room spaces,” says architect and buyers’ advocate Adam Woledge. “You shouldn’t have to walk through these rooms to get to the rear of the property. Rooms need to coexist harmoniously.”
Convoluted floor plans, says James Buyer Advocates’ Mal James, may leave a property struggling to attract buyers and eventually selling at a discount. Not much use if you already own a place like this, but it’s worth bearing in mind for next time. James’ advice is to avoid properties which have a “disconnect” between the living and kitchen spaces and the bedrooms.
And there are some other basic rules becoming apparent. Having a bathroom coming off the kitchen (which raises general hygiene issues), or a bedroom opening onto a living space, is likely to put buyers off. Another aspect of poor design is having bathrooms, walk-in wardrobes, laundry rooms and pantries taking up prime space with the best views or light.
Buyers don’t like having to walk diagonally across the living room to get to the kitchen, while flats and units that feature an entrance hall or foyer usually attract higher prices.
It seems that buyers are getting more switched-on to the things that will make a home nicer to live in. And as families forego big backyards so they can afford to be closer to the city, they are demanding smarter use of the space inside.
Look at a property that is struggling to sell and upon closer examination you’ll probably see the bedrooms are too small or there is another issue with space and flow.
Wide hallways are important, says Woledge of Melbourne-based Woledge Hatt, and buyers should look for properties that offer a direct route from the front door to the informal areas.
“The house should be well zoned: the bedrooms need to be in a logical position, not next to informal areas, and there should be no bathrooms off living spaces,” he says. “People are okay with having a small backyard, but one thing they’re not compromising on is bedroom sizes. Three-metre-by-three-metre rooms are seen as too small.”
Another thing that prospective buyers need to consider is how their furniture will fit in. You don’t want to get to moving day and find that half of your furniture has to be left in the yard. Woledge exposes one of the tricks that sellers use to make a room seem bigger:
“Sellers often put double beds in instead of queen-size beds, so it’s really important to step away from a floor plan and maybe take your own measurements and visualise the property with your own furniture,” he says.