As a buyers agent, it's my role to look objectively at a property and to imagine how my clients would live there. From a welcoming spot with natural light to enjoy their breakfast, helpful lighting at the vanity to prepare for the day, to sufficient storage so the kids aren't forever looking for their school hat in the five minutes after you need to leave (although sometimes they'll lose them no matter how much storage or labels you have), it's my job to walk a mile in their shoes and while every client is different, there are some factors that are common to all.
1. Floorplan. Do the living areas flow nicely to one another? Are any extensions sympathetic to the original build? I've seen a few Canberran beauties ruined by tacky 1980's renovations. Look at the floorplan for wasted space, poky areas and rooms that don't logically flow one to the next.
2. Storage. Room for somewhere to store your Christmas tinsel for 11 months of the year. Those spare doonas for when the in-laws drop in for a week or three. Some have a hidden attic ladder for access to the roof cavity, while other homes have a walk-in linen cupboard. Consider your own requirements and during the open home check for cupboard depths and heights.
3. Lighting. Natural light is a non-negotiable item. Our Winters may be cold, but the still, sunny days allow for plenty of natural light to spill into a home and brighten the coldest time of year. Poorly lit rooms can be costly to remedy, and the orientation of the living areas is an important consideration. Artificial lighting is much easier to fix, but also consider the task lighting in rooms such as the kitchen and bathroom. A well-designed ensuite has fantastic natural light and well-placed task lighting to make the job of getting ready a pleasure.
4. Indoor-outdoor living areas. Is there a good indoor/outdoor connection, with some outdoor entertaining space connected to the interior in a logical way? Does the outdoor space provide enough room for the style of entertaining you do?
5. Noise levels. Open plan is modern, but downright noisy at times! Look for dampening 'soft' surfaces to absorb noise. Carpets, curtains, rooms that can be sectioned off - these are somewhat out of fashion but help an active household contain its noise levels. Double-glazed windows not only help regulate temperature, they are fantastic and keeping your neighbours' noise from entering your home.
6. Furniture placement. Once you remove the 'styled' furniture the vendors have hired, think about how your own items will fit. Clients who had a 16-place dining table found that switching the dining and living spaces allowed them to keep their beloved piece. Where will the TV go? And how would you place the furniture to best view it, while still allowing ease of movement and thoroughfare through the room?
7. Surrounding properties. Stickybeak over the back and side fences - the private areas of someone's home can be telling. Do you see a welcoming garden, or cars up on bricks? What is unacceptable to you may be completely normal to someone else. Is the streetscape consistent, or are there wild variances between homes? Keep this in mind when comparing recent sales in the area.
Consider these points when you next walk through a home, and perhaps you'll be able to better see past the pretty staged furniture to how the property would be like to actually live in.