Between them, property experts Nicole Gleeson, a partner at Kay & Burton, Adam Woledge of WoledgeHatt buyers’ advocates and Carla Fetter, partner at Jellis Craig Stonnington, have decades in real estate. They tell us what women look for in a home.
“Non-negotiables are the kitchen, bedrooms and wardrobe space,” says Nicole who has been selling homes to the well-heeled for the past 15 years.
In her experience, despite the rise of blended families and dual incomes families, the woman usually makes the final decision on buying the house.
“Bedrooms need room for a study area for students or a second living space for the kids to hangout that is not too far away from the main living!
“And wardrobe space! This is a big one these days – no such thing as too big when it comes to dressing rooms.”
Adam Woledge, an architect, licensed estate agent and director of WoledgeHatt buyers’ advocates, buys million-dollar plus homes in Melbourne’s inner east and south-eastern suburbs for his clients.
Buyers want ample storage in hallways, kitchens and bedrooms, good bedroom sizes and a house with a good ‘flow’ and natural light, he says.
Carla Fetta believes buying a home tends to be a joint decision for couples.
“As much as I like the mantra ‘happy wife happy life’, I don’t believe this philosophy is adopted regularly enough when making a pivotal decision such as buying a property”, says Carla.
“Women with families want to make sure the home has adequate accommodation, including plenty of storage and break-out spaces for each person to enjoy,” she says.
“For a woman without children, like anything in property, it usually comes down to the feel of the home or the potential it offers. Rooms that are spacious, lovely natural light and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good kitchen?”
What’s important in the kitchen?
The kitchen is the “hangout zone”. You need a big bench, says Nicole.
“Appliances are easy to change and cupboard and drawers can easily be upgraded.”
For Adam, functionality comes first. “The tried and tested three-metre kitchen work triangle works really well I think, even to this day. No ‘leg’ should be greater than 1.2m.
Good light, modern appliances, modern finishes are also important, he says.
The butler’s pantry has become a wish list item, especially if there is a lot of cooking and entertaining, says Nicole.
Adam believes the butler’s pantry depends on the size of the house and where it is.
“If the home is small or compact, the space required can be better served as storage or part of a laundry.
“If the home is close to local shopping, then most people ‘buy as they need’ and don’t find the need to ‘store’ food,” he says.
The home theatre: how important is it?
Both Nicole and Adam think that the home theatre – once important especially in large homes – is now less so.
Maybe in hindsight (it was) even a fad, says Adam.
“Given technology has moved so fast, people are watching digital content in many different ways now other than on the standard television (i.e. phone, tablet, computer screen, etc), so the need for a dedicated room is not such an important consideration. Families may find themselves watching a different movie on a different device in a different room,” he says.
How important is flexibility such as having a guest room or study?
As a family grows, changes, or scales back, a home’s ability to adapt is critical.
“If you had to buy a home for every life stage, it would be a very costly exercise (due to lofty stamp duty costs) and it can also be emotionally very taxing. Properties with good garaging have served very well as home gyms or breakout rooms for teenagers,” says Adam.
A guest room or additional bedroom is “a huge selling feature”, which satisfies the need for a second study or a second living space, says Nicole.
Are gardens or outside spaces still relevant?
Our experts agree that outdoor space is vital, perhaps now more than ever.
“Still very important to have some good outdoor garden or courtyard living options. Families with young kids like a safe, inviting backyard garden that can be seen from the main living inside the home,” says Nicole.
For Carla, outdoor space is also “crucial depending on the size of the family and age of the children.”
Says Adam: “As we have been home more, we have been more attuned to our gardens. Money spent on a good landscape designer (like an architect, interior designer etc.) is money very well spent.
“Many lessons can be learnt from Japanese gardens too as they often deal with plant design on a smaller scale, capturing selected views from within the house and /or via internal courtyards.”