Al­ways look at big­ger pic­ture

The Advertiser - Real Estate - - House Hunter - AN­THONY K16E2ANE

YEARS ago I worked as a graphic de­signer for the late Alan Hick­in­botham. Spend­ing time with the head of one of South Aus­tralia’s big­gest home build­ing com­pa­nies was in­ter­est­ing and one piece of his wis­dom has stuck with me more than any­thing else.

Make the kitchen the hub of a fam­ily home, he would say. This al­lows the cook to be part of the ac­tion when en­ter­tain­ing or pre­par­ing fam­ily meals.

Fast for­ward to to­day and kitchens ap­pear to be un­der threat in some places.

First we have the hot new trend of but­ler’s kitchens – also known as a but­ler’s pantry or their old-fash­ioned term, scullery – where peo­ple are ban­ished to a poky room to do the dishes and other un­pleas­ant things.

Sec­ond, the race for lim­ited space is see­ing some apart­ment kitchens re­sem­bling just a small shelf on a wall, just like laun­dries have been shrunk dra­mat­i­cally and pushed be­hind cup­board doors in many units and even some houses.

Is this the end of the kitchen? What would Alan Hick­in­botham think?

I per­son­ally doubt that kitchens are en­dan­gered and the suc­cess of TV cook­ing pro­grams, such as has brought them back into vogue.

But it does il­lus­trate that home­buy­ers’ tastes change and we’re al­ways around the cor­ner from a new trend.

This is a key is­sue for res­i­den­tial prop­erty in­vestors. Do you buy the lat­est trend or fad, or do you stick with what you know?

The an­swer, as al­ways, is lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion.

A huge kitchen may not be nec­es­sary for an apart­ment in the city where your ten­ants are go­ing to spend much time eat­ing out but if it’s a fam­ily home in the sub­urbs, it should be suited to a fam­ily.

When look­ing at a po­ten­tial prop­erty, in­vestors need to fo­cus on more im­por­tant things, such as prox­im­ity to pub­lic trans­port, shop­ping cen­tres, schools and other fa­cil­i­ties that ten­ants would ap­pre­ci­ate.

A trendy new kitchen or bath­room cer­tainly can help but it’s un­likely to be a deal maker or deal breaker.

In­vestors who are build­ing a new prop­erty should ig­nore their own tastes and fo­cus on what will ap­peal to their tar­get mar­ket – usu­ally the masses. For­get the hot pink fea­ture wall and stick with neu­tral colours.

On the tax­a­tion front, you can­not claim an in­stant tax de­duc­tion for spend­ing thou­sands of dol­lars on prop­erty im­prove­ments – these have to be de­pre­ci­ated over time.

A bro­ken ap­pli­ance or fit­ting can be writ­ten off as a re­pair or main­te­nance.

Land­lords should look at their in­vest­ment prop­er­ties as a busi­ness deal and leave the emo­tional de­ci­sions for their own homes, and their own kitchens, if they have one.

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