Estate agents' tricks of the trade

Monday 3rd June 2013

Most of us have to use them. Estate agents are at the very heart of the housing market, which means that they can heavily influence your decision making when it comes to deciding whether or not to buy a property.

Traditionally, when it comes to selling houses, estate agents often highlighted local schools, gardens and transport links as the main benefits to buying a particular property. But research shows that many agents are now shifting their focusing away from these feature, and focussing more on using high spec home buzzwords to entice homebuyers.

Having looked at over at over five million properties across the UK, new research conducted by Aviva shows that grand design interiors such as under-floor heating, granite work surfaces, marble flooring and Smeg appliances top the list of high spec features.

Some 257,000 homes are now described as having a “high spec interior”. The findings show that the most common high-end feature listed by estate agents is under-floor heating (mentioned in 63% of the 257,000 high spec homes analysed) while over a quarter (27%) highlight quality finishes such as granite work surfaces and marble flooring.

Other high spec features noted include ceiling speakers (2%) and luxury fitments such as walk-in wardrobes and built-in entertainment centres (1%). The kudos of premium brands is also important, with 2% of high spec homes listing either Smeg or Miele appliances as part of their marketed qualities.

Quiet life

The study also found that a taste for properties in peaceful and quiet locations appear to be favoured over locations that boast lively bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants.

The analysis also showed that estate agents are advocating the serene locations of flats and houses for sale, above the proximity to lively bars, cafes and restaurants.

Quality features  

In nearly two-fifths (61%) of homes described as having “ambient features” the peaceful and tranquil location is highlighted, compared to only 13% that mention local country pubs. And despite the buzzing café culture and rise of local independent coffee chains, only 300 ambient properties list café culture as a selling point, with two thirds (72%) of those mentions located in Greater London.

Estate agents property listings across the UK also revealed that homes in the South East are most likely to use proximity to schools as a selling point, while in the North East schools are only referenced as a selling point for 2% of homes.

Within the results for “garden features”, 12% of properties in Greater London list a garden as a main quality, despite limited space in the capital.

Some 28% offer a large garden and 7% offer a “beautiful/attractive garden”. The most favoured was a south-facing garden, featuring in over half (55%) of property descriptions in London.

Whilst transportation is one of the less popular features (mentioned in less than 20% of analysed listings), almost three quarters (72%) of homes that reference transportation state that they are ideally located for an easy commute. Within this feature category, homes in the West Midlands (5%), Wales (5%) and the North East (4%) are least likely to list transport links.

Heather Smith, director of home insurance at Aviva, said: “We all fall in love with properties for different reasons, and while the character and charm of a home is a matter of personal taste, it seems that assets such as smart flooring and on-trend kitchen brands are as important to some buyers as transport links and schools.

“And with the pace of life so fast for many of us, it’s not surprising that home buyers are looking for a little refuge from their busy working lives and would prefer tranquillity to buzzing bars and local pubs.

“But whether you plump for marble flooring or laminate, walk-in wardrobe or flat-packed furniture make sure you can also afford to maintain the perfect home once you find it. And if you’re lucky enough to get some swanky fixtures and fittings as part of the purchase, ensure you tell your home insurer so you can be certain you have the right cover to protect everything in your new home.”


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