The needle in the haystack
TIME to start house hunting, let the search begin.
Perhaps it could be the block of land for your dream home, the freestanding forever home, the cool urban unit, the practical townhouse, or maybe retirement living?
Looking in your local property supplement or online, your search is aided by the assistance of good oldfashioned categories.
Houses get a category, units and townhouses often share or have their own dedicated classification, then there’s another category for land and quite often for retirement living.
Let’s change sides now, imagine you’re about to sell a property, the same rules apply for marketing and your agent needs to know where to list the home to avoid the property being lost among all that competition.
Those categories offer focus and direction for your campaign from the start. Without categorisation, the whole purchasing and selling game would be a lot slower and a rather painful process.
Commercial real estate has the same idea, with categories such as retail, industrial, cafes and restaurants, hotel and leisure and offices, all of which should avoid buyers and sellers getting lost in a never-ending supply of unsuitable listings.
Therefore, for those of us selling, buying or renting “common properties”, everything is in place. But what about the following unique property types?
The SOHO (small office/ home and office); The live/workspace; The multi or dual-occupancy dwelling;
The family home with a residential annex; and
The retail unit with apartment above.
A few of you might not be familiar with the term SOHO or live/work space, but they are not a new concept, while a home with a granny annex is almost as old as granny herself.
In Australian markets, I see more people work from home, including those who need more than just office space.
Some want accommodation that will house a multigenerational family, each demanding their own space and front door. Others want a home along with another as a long or short-term let income generator.
You might even have the small cafe owner who wants to live above the shop.
Scouring the small ads and online for these buyers is a nightmare, so this week I want to ask those who create categories to start adding some extra “boxes” to tick.
I also believe the official categorisation of these additional property types will allow the market for each to grow naturally and not be hindered in the way they currently are.
This is not a small problem either. Private sellers with homes with commercial space or separate accommodation simply don’t know what to do and neither do the agents.
I found a developer recently selling a small scheme of twobedroom-plus-study units with commercial retail space below plus parking, all new. They were listed as twobedroom apartments and it looked ridiculous as they cost considerably more money than any other two-bedroom apartment.
Of course, it was unlike any other unit listing and was twice the size.
However, you only get a matter of seconds to make a positive impact with your marketing and in this instance, by the time the buyer has worked out what the property actually offered, they have most likely moved on and all parties have missed the opportunity.
The same applies to your family home with a separate dwelling attached.
This could suit so many buyers, in fact, some might even be seeking this home type specifically. But they literally have to search and search, needle-in-a-haystack mode, because there is no way to differentiate this type of accommodation from the more traditional.
So, please, can we start to acknowledge there is actually more housing options out there in today’s modern market than simply the house, the unit or the shop?
The more we improve the definition, the easier it should be for those seeking or selling within this sector and my experience over recent years has shown me that the current situation is a marketing nightmare and these changes cannot come soon enough.