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Lifestyle – not location! – leads the way on the home-buying hunt

Lifestyle – not location! – leads the way on the home-buying hunt

Homebuyers are starting to place lifestyle way ahead of investment when looking for homes. If the living is good, there's a good chance of a sale.

'Location, location, location' has always been the homebuyer's mantra, with price and security making up the 'big three' on the home-buying hunt. But the definition of what makes a great location appears to be changing, says Carl Coetzee, CEO of BetterBond, SA's biggest bond originator.

"The focus has shifted away from potential investment returns — buyers scrambling to buy in areas where prices and property values had continued to rise, even in a sluggish economy — towards a new focus on lifestyle."

Buyers are now more likely to buy in an area where there's a great school they want their children to attend, or one that's close to work, so they don't have to waste precious time commuting. They're also bringing a bit of balance into their home-buying choices — looking for areas with leisure activities and facilities right on their doorstep, like a nearby beach or a cool café culture.

Living well seems to be taking precedence over investing well. People now picture themselves actually living in their new home and connecting with their new community — and the value of this seems to outweigh the returns they could make when they eventually sell their property. This offers home sellers and agents a great opportunity to target buyers based on their lifestyle needs, interests and preferences.

Coetzee believes this seismic shift in priorities may have something to do with the fact that first-time homebuyers are, on average, much older than their parents were when they bought their first homes, and so they naturally don't expect or even want to move as often as their parents did.

"Many first-time buyers are in their mid-30s, and are buying a 'forever' home in which they want to raise a family, and bequeath or sell it to their children when they retire. So, it's no surprise that they're looking for locations that offer them the lifestyle they're seeking in the long-term, as well as a community they can connect with."

And this seems to be a global trend. A recent survey by Better Homes & Gardens and US-based Meredith Corporation showed that purchase satisfaction for homeowners depends significantly on the surrounding community and lifestyle, and includes:

  • Ease of commuting by car — 38%
  • Access to health and safety services — 34%
  • Family-friendly neighbourhood — 33%
  • Proximity to shopping centres — 32%
  • Access to cultural activities — 21%
  • Public transportation access — 19%
  • Nightlife and restaurant access — 18%
  • Golf-friendly area or easy access to golf courses — 6%

Sadly, sellers often tend to focus on the specific features of their homes, and forget to paint a bigger picture for prospective buyers. But factors like easy freeway access, great local schools, friendly neighbours, a local nature reserve, or lots of trendy shops and restaurants within walking distance can make all the difference as to whether a buyer chooses your home over a similar property in another area.

It makes sense for sellers to work with their agents to find the best ways to showcase the lifestyle perks that prospective home-buyers will gain along with their new property. Selling time, and the living is easy!

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