Why street appeal still matters to buyers in an online market
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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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A versatile stool with a sense of fun took out the top prize at the Australia’s Next Top Designers awards at Design Show Australia last week.

The ‘Cheeky’ stool designed by Maryam Moghadam was the unanimous winner among the judging panel, which included Kanebridge Quarterly magazine Editor in Chief, Robyn Willis, Workshopped Creative Director Olaf Sialkowski, Design Show event organiser, Andrew Vaughan and Creative Director at Flexmirror Australia, Matt Angus.

Designed as an occasional stool or side table, the Cheeky stool comes in a range of skin tones. The judges applauded its commercial applications, its flexibility to work in a range of environments, and its sense of play.

In accepting the $10,000 prize, designer Maryam Moghadam quipped she was pleased to see ‘other people find bums as funny as I do’. A finalist at last year’s awards, Moghadam will put the prize money towards bringing her product to market.

Winner Maryam Moghadam said the $10,000 prize money would be put towards developing her product further for market.

Australia’s Next Top Designers is in its fourth year, but this is the first year a cash prize has been offered. Kanebridge Quarterly magazine has put up the prize money to support the next generation of emerging industrial design talent in Australia.

Editor in Chief Robyn Willis said the cash prize offered the winner the opportunity to put the money towards whatever aspect of their business it would most benefit.

“That might be prototyping their product further, spending on marketing, or simply paying for travel or even childcare expenses to allow the designer to focus on their work and take it to the next stage,” she said. “We’re thrilled to be supporting this design program and nurturing emerging design in a very practical way.”

The Coralescence lamps from the Tide Pool series by Suzy Syme and Andrew Costa had strong commercial applications, the judges said.
The Mass lamp by Dirk Du Toit is crafted from FSC-certified oak or walnut.

Two finalists were also awarded ‘highly commended’ by the judges — Mass lamp by Dirk Du Toit and the Coralescence lights from Suzy Syme and Andrew Costa at Tide Pool Designs. The judges agreed both products were beautifully resolved from a design perspective, as well as having strong commercial applications in residential and hospitality design. 

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