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Lifts, basements, multiple living zones and “walkability” to public transport are anticipated to be among the most sought-after features by house hunters this year.

Multi-storey homes serviced by private lifts were once the preserve of the super rich, but are now becoming more popular with empty nesters and buyers looking for a long-term proposition.

Marshall White director Marcus Chiminello said the demand for lifts had changed significantly in the past 10 to 15 years, and were popular because they “provided buyers with longevity in a home”.

And while lifts are much cheaper compared to a decade ago, hockingstuart director Rob Elsom said they were still luxury additions sought by “cashed-up baby boomers”.

“We see more and more people buying on smaller blocks of land but they still want their accommodation, which means they have to put in a second level, and they’ll pay that $80,000 or whatever it may be to put in a lift as well,” he said.

Dijana Vojvodic, marketing manager at EasyLiving Home Elevators, said more developers were also installing lifts to broaden their market, and because it was practical in homes with good aspects.

“Architects are incorporating the kitchen and living areas on the top floor so that you’d maximise the views instead of having the bedrooms upstairs,” she said. “So the lifts help with all the shopping.”

Multiple living zones, where dad can watch a cricket match in one room while the children play video games in another, is now preferred over one large open-plan living, dining and kitchen area designed for the whole family.

“Parents are encouraging their kids to not just to hang out in their bedrooms all the time,” Mr Elsom said. “They’re going to a central area where they can be on their iPads or their tablets, and still be visible to their parents.”

Mr Elsom said open study areas, where parents can see what their children are doing, were also in demand.

And it seems buyers are also looking for properties that offer the potential to subdivide or develop in the future.

Wakelin Property Advisory’s Richard Wakelin said this was a surging point of interest to property buyers in Melbourne.

“It’s a growing ‘adding value’ investment play in locations where planning rules allow – which is far from everywhere – and where block sizes tend to be large, such as our middle-ring eastern suburbs,” Mr Wakelin said.

“The trend has been bolstered by Foreign Investment Review Board restrictions on non-permanent resident owning established property.

“Subdivision provides a loophole of sorts – overseas residents can buy an established property and replace the buildings with two or more new ones.”

Discerning home buyers and investors are also interested in period features. Mr Wakelin describes this as a combination of heart and head.

“First they are aesthetically pleasing and people genuinely enjoy living in a home with timeless styling,” he said.

“Second – and less romantically – buyers know that period features are valued by most people and hence add value to a property.”

WBP Property Group’s Greville Pabst agrees that this is a feature buyers are considering and encourages astute purchasers to put it onto their list.

“It adds a level of scarcity to the home that will help the home appreciate in value,” he said.

He suggests looking at features that are not as easily replicated today.

Increasingly, home buyers are not looking to make changes and spend even more money when they move in – looking for new or substantially renovated properties.

Mr Wakelin suggests this may actually be a smart decision as well as an emerging trend.

“Too often renovator delights take more money, time and heartache to get up to standard than envisaged and deliver less uplift in value than their now paint-bespeckled owners had hoped for,” he said.

In the inner city, Nelson Alexander sales director Arch Staver said period homes with contemporary renovations will continue to be the most coveted.

“The aesthetic of a handsome Victorian or Edwardian property is pretty timeless; it’s just a classic bit of architecture that is quintessentially inner Melbourne,” he said.

“The combination of having that attractive facade, but with a contemporary light, bright interior is always going to be very, very appealing.”

Barry Plant chief executive Mike McCarthy said as Melbourne becomes more congested, close proximity to good transport options would be a major consideration.

Top 10 features – Will your home appeal to buyers in 2015?

1. Walkability – an easy walk to public transport, lifestyle amenities and schools.

2. Natural light – not having to turn on the lights during the day.

3. Multiple living zones – separate living spaces for parents and children.

4. Period features – classic architecture that is quintessentially inner Melbourne.

5. Low maintenance living/access to outdoor areas – an alfresco area that flows seemlessly from the indoor living area.

6. Potential redevelopment opportunities – subdivisions on larger blocks of land.

7. Renovated properties – ready to move straight in without having to spend another cent.

8. Basements – an underground space for parking, cellars or a games room.

9. Lifts – so you’ll never have to walk the stairs again.

10. Connection to 3G and 4G networks – who wouldn’t want faster internet?


Posted by Christina Zhou & Jennifer Duke – Domain (The Age) on 7th February, 2015