Leave the sub­urbs be­hind

Herald Sun - Property - - OPINION - AN­DREW WIN­TER An­drew Win­ter hosts Sell­ing Houses Aus­tralia on the Life­style chan­nel

I UN­DER­STAND that most of you right now might not live in a small coun­try town or tiny re­gional hub, but plenty of us do at some point of our home­own­ing lives.

Some con­sider in­vest­ing in the bush, or mov­ing to Aunty’s ru­ral re­treat they loved as a child. There are also some of you that might be about to build in such a lo­ca­tion and if that’s you, please read on and heed my warn­ing.

Don’t worry, I’m not about to tell buy­ers not to con­sider th­ese lo­ca­tions.

Rental re­turns can be bet­ter and if you time your pur­chase right in the mar­ket cy­cle, cap­i­tal growth is cer­tainly pos­si­ble.

You just need to know what you’re in for.

In my ex­pe­ri­ence it’s of­ten the quiet spots, not the pub­li­cised hotspots, that of­fer sur­prises, but there is risk — not nec­es­sar­ily mar­ket based, but ar­chi­tec­tural.

It is all about know­ing the ver­nac­u­lar.

If a char­ac­ter cot­tage or ren­o­va­tion project is not your thing and build­ing a new home suits your needs, I be­lieve this should come with a mas­sive warn­ing sticker at­tached.

In the past six months I have vis­ited and re­searched many of th­ese mar­kets, talk­ing to buy­ers, sell­ers and agents — the part of the home buy­ing and sell­ing equa­tion that re­ally counts.

The in­for­ma­tion I gleaned showed a com­mon thread — if you want to sell with greater ease and have any chance of get­ting a bet­ter sale price, stop build­ing houses with ab­so­lutely no de­sign rel­e­vance to the cho­sen lo­ca­tion.

I find this so frus­trat­ing I’ve been tempted to knock on doors and have a lit­tle chat with the own­ers of th­ese ab­so­lute de­sign dis­as­ters and re­quest they bull­doze their new home and re­build with taste, style and em­pa­thy to the area and lo­ca­tion.

My col­leagues sug­gested that this pos­si­bly wasn’t the best idea and that the pro­duc­tion com­pany in­jury in­sur­ance wouldn’t cover my, most likely, vast med­i­cal bills, so I’m vent­ing in an al­ter­na­tive way.

The main cause of my frus­tra­tion is know­ing that cre­at­ing a home that blends, com­ple­ments and en­hances the area and makes you more dol­lars in higher sales value, will ac­tu­ally cost no more than the ugly sis­ter sit­ting there all out of place.

I want to see more weath­er­board, more ve­ran­das, more beau­ti­ful clas­sic rooflines. Win­dows placed to take in the views, no skinny houses with only garage door frontages on blocks of 1000sq m or more.

I want to see pretty gar­dens and picket fences, no sten­cilled or paved driveways — crushed gravel will do.

I told you it’s not an ex­pen­sive op­tion: blow that part of the bud­get on a picket fence.

I want to see homes de­signed en­tirely for their block. If the block is rec­tan­gu­lar to the street, build a home with real frontage; it only has to be one or two rooms deep. On any block of, say, 1500sq m or more, con­sider the garage as a sep­a­rate struc­ture, linked maybe by a breeze­way or not at all. Cram­ming house and garage to­gether is what you have to do in the sub­urbs.

There, I’ve said it — the sub­urbs, the mass hous­ing es­tates that are lo­cated all across the outer reaches of our big towns and ci­ties. If you fail to ac­knowl­edge you are build­ing a new home out­side th­ese ar­eas and think you can just choose a home de­sign off the peg and lit­er­ally plonk it on your coun­try town block, you’re mak­ing a financial mis­take.

In many of the coun­try mar­kets I visit, the one house type that is tricky to sell is the one that looks like it should be 250km away in the city sub­urbs.

Where is the ap­peal? Where is the mo­ti­va­tion for a buyer to get ex­cited and, most im­por­tantly, why should they buy it?

So if you’re about to build in the coun­try, em­brace your block, ac­knowl­edge the lo­ca­tion and get cre­ative.

You’ll spend no more but have added value and buyer ap­peal from the day you move in. If you don’t, one day I may pluck up the courage to come knock­ing on your bad taste door.

If you don’t want to live in the sub­urbs make sure you de­sign a house that doesn’t look like you do.

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