Why street appeal still matters to buyers in an online market | Kanebridge News
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Why street appeal still matters to buyers in an online market

With the spring season in full swing and clearance rates stalling, street appeal is more relevant than ever

By Robyn Willis
Mon, Nov 21, 2022 9:30amGrey Clock 4 min

W e’ve all done it. A quiet night in front of the TV spent scrolling property in dream locations has replaced peering into the shop windows of real estate agents while visiting your favourite holiday destination.

For dedicated property hunters, the next step is a drive by the ‘open for inspection’ to check out what the property had to offer. But in an increasingly virtual market where online purchases have become more common among interstate and overseas buyers, it’s worth questioning whether street appeal is becoming less important.

Not so, says John McGrath, managing director and CEO of McGrath Real Estate.

“Kerbside or street appeal is still alive and well,” McGrath says. “First impressions are most important, whether it be in the real or virtual world. People are time poor and often don’t have the time available to sort through multiple images so they will exclude properties based on the hero image – which is often the facade.”

Presenting the front of your property to its best advantage, even if you have to spend a few thousand dollars, will be money well spent to draw in more potential buyers, either in the virtual world or in real life. And more buyers means more competition on auction day. Putting out the welcome mat is essential.

“All timber work should be sparkling, and planting and greenery should give instant appeal,” McGrath says. “It goes without saying that any defects such as leaking downspouts or squeaky gates should also be fixed for the eventual inspections that should be generated from online buyers. 

“I’ve found that a few thousand dollars invested in the front of the property can add 10 times that amount through attracting buyers to explore the home further.”

Even the smallest detail shouldn’t be overlooked.

“Things such as making it easy to find the street number can be a small but important detail,” he says.

Matt Cantwell, creative director of landscape design and architecture firm Secret Gardens, says the front garden and facade is the first hint to buyers of what’s inside.

“Structural details like letterboxes and intercoms can offer clues to the style of the house internally,” he says. “You might have an old semi with a modern letterbox out the front and it will tell you a bit about what you will experience once you get inside.”

Landscaping, or updating exterior structures such as fencing can be a particularly useful tool for vendors looking to refresh their property without doing a major 

renovation, as a way of inviting potential buyers to look closer.

“Definitely with that larger scale planting, the trees and hedges perform a few functions,” Cantwell says. “They are framing the view to the house and making sure your eye doesn’t wander to the house on either side. 

“Providing that scale against the house is a vital part of presenting the architecture to its best. It can also be about obliterating unsightly angles or views.”

As a general rule, Cantwell says it’s often a case of providing balance between providing a sense of openness with carefully placed trees and shrubs, while still maintaining interest, or even creating ‘wow’ factor for buyers.

“Most people like the front of the house to feel a bit open,” he says. “With the front boundary line, it’s the detailing of structures like the fencing, walling and gates that people notice. They are important opportunities to pick up on details of the house.”

General manager international marketing at Brickworks, Brett Ward, says judging by the amount of time most first time homebuilders spend on choosing exterior bricks for their facade, street appeal still figures prominently for many, whether they’re selling or not.

“It’s as popular as it has ever been,” he says. “Building a new home is about creating your individual identity and giving you control over how it will look. Our clients are looking for guidance and advice on making their homes individual and how to mix and match materials on a project to make it look stylish.”

Just as interior finishes go in and out of fashion, it’s the same for facades, says Ward. He says lighter colours continue to prove popular, with harmonising colours added for more depth.

“Clients might use a white or light cream for the front of the house and then a slightly darker cream for the portico to make it pop without too much contrast,” he says. “There’s a lot more terracotta coming through with the architectural projects.”

If in doubt, he says commercial projects can provide inspiration for residential facades. 

“The recently completed Quay Quarters site uses all three of the most popular colours we’re seeing and now that’s translating into residential design,” he says.

For those with older properties, property partner at The Agency, Tracy Tian Belcher, says vendors need to keep in mind who – or what – they are competing with.

“Clients might think because their property is close to the water that people will automatically be interested, but they are competing with much newer properties,” Belcher says. She says others can be reluctant to spend money on the front of a property they are just about to part with. However, she says it’s seldom money wasted.

“We always tell clients to put time and effort into the front garden,” Belcher says. “But it’s very difficult to convince people to spend money before they sell. In my experience though, you spend $1 and you get $2 back – at least.”

With an ongoing trade shortage expected, she says buyers are showing more interest in properties that are move-in ready.

“If you do the hard yards, people will pay for it,” she says. “ And they are going to budget more money than they should be when they make an offer.” 


For more stories like this, order a copy of the launch edition of Kanebridge Quarterly here


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The Lipstick Index Is Back

Sales of the cosmetic product are a bright spot in an otherwise bleak discretionary-goods environment

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Masks off, lipstick index on.

In a gloomy economy, consumers might cut back on other discretionary purchases but will keep shelling out for small luxuries such as lipstick—or so goes the theory. “When lipstick sales go up, people don’t want to buy dresses,” Leonard Lauder, then-chairman of Estée Lauder who is widely credited for coming up with the so-called “lipstick index,” told The Wall Street Journal in 2001.

L’Oréal Chief Executive Nicolas Hieronimus called this out during the company’s earnings call in October, noting that a luxury lipstick or mascara is only €30, making it an “affordable treat.” Sales at L’Oréal rose 9.1% in the third quarter compared with a year earlier despite slower sales in China due to Covid-related lockdowns. Coty, maker of CoverGirl makeup, said organic sales grew 9% over the same period.

Beauty sales have also been a rare bright spot for retailers: Target said beauty category sales grew roughly 15% in its quarter ended Oct. 29 compared with a year earlier, with Ulta Beauty shops in Target tripling their total sales volume over that period.

While Macy’s namesake stores saw comparable-store sales decline last quarter, its beauty-focused Bluemercury chain saw same-store sales grow 14% last quarter compared with a year earlier. Kohl’s locations with Sephora are outperforming the rest of the department-store chain.

Of the 14 discretionary categories that market research firm NPD Group tracks, prestige beauty—products you might find at a department store or a Sephora—is the only category that is seeing unit sales growth year to date. And lipstick, which suffered during the masked-up pandemic, is making up for lost time.

Lipstick sales have grown 37% through October this year compared with a year earlier, according to Larissa Jensen, beauty industry analyst at NPD Group. That is an acceleration from the 31% growth seen during the same period last year. Lip product is the only major category within prestige beauty where sales are actually up compared with pre-pandemic levels, according to Ms. Jensen.

Cosmetic companies have also called out strong sales in fragrances, calling it the “fragrance index.” Demand has been so robust that there is an industrywide fragrance component shortage, Coty said in a press release announcing third-quarter earnings earlier this month. CEO Sue Nabi said during the call that Coty hasn’t seen any kind of trade-down or slowdown, also noting that consumers are shifting away from gifting perfume to buying it for themselves.

“A big piece of it is just a shift in what wellness means to consumers,” NPD Group’s Ms. Jensen said. “Beauty is one of the few industries that are positioned to meet [consumers’] emotional need. It makes them feel good.”

While the lipstick effect could be observed in the recession in the early 2000s, that wasn’t the case during the 2007-09 recession, during which lipstick sales declined alongside other discretionary purchases. Part of this might have had to do with category-specific dynamics.

There was a lot of newness in the cosmetic industry in 2001, including lip gloss, a relatively nascent category back then. That tailwind simply wasn’t there starting in 2008, though nail polish turned out to be consumers’ small indulgence of choice in that period. This time around, consumers may be eager to show off a part of their face that was hidden behind a mask for so long during the pandemic.

In an otherwise bleak environment for companies selling discretionary goods, those in the business of selling cosmetics look well poised to come out of the holiday season looking freshened up.

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