By John McGrath 

A recent survey of the top 10 most desirable features in a property – according to buyers, shows that many Australians are not taking a broad enough view when it comes to choosing a potential new home. surveyed 1,043 Australians to find out what they cared about most in a potential new home.  

Here’s the top 10 most desirable features, according to buyers:

Air conditioning: 65%

Carport/Garage: 60% 

Garden/Backyard: 52% 

Solar panels: 33% 

Deck/Pergola: 24%

Dishwasher: 17% 

Swimming pool: 17%

Built-in barbecue: 4% 

Water feature: 2% 

Garden gnomes: 2% 

Now, without knowing exactly how this survey was done (for example, whether respondents listed 10 things off the top of their head or selected from a list of options provided by, the most alarming implication of this survey is that some buyers are making purchasing decisions based on optional features over fundamental features. 

An optional feature is something that can easily be added or taken away from a property 

A fundamental feature is something that cannot be changed and has a direct effect on a property’s value 

Eight of the top 10 features in the survey are optional features. The only two fundamentals are off-street parking and a garden/backyard. 

The No 1 most desired feature is air conditioning. But it really doesn’t matter whether air conditioning is installed at the time of purchase – that’s an optional feature that can be easily added later, it shouldn’t be a determining factor in your purchasing decision. 

Air conditioning might be a determining factor for renters who can’t change a property’s features during their tenancy, but I believe owner occupiers should be focusing on far more important things. 

The most important features that should influence your purchasing decision are the fundamental features you can never change. Examples: 

1. Location (proximity to transport, shops, cafes, school zones) 

2. Aspect/natural light (north facing is best) 

3. Block size (houses) or internal size (apartments) 

4. Noisy vs quiet 

5. Privacy 

6. Number of bedrooms, bathrooms and off-street parking 

Once you’ve got the really important features covered, it’s time to consider other features that you’d really like to have. These features might not be as fundamental, however they are features that would cost a lot of time, money and effort for you to add or create later, so it’s best to buy a home that already has them. Examples:

1. Structural integrity (always do a pest and building report! A home with structural problems can be fixed however it might cost a lot of time and money) 

2. The floor plan configuration you like best (it might cost many thousands to move walls around to create, for example, a more open plan style)

3. The style of property you like best – modern vs period style 

4. The condition of the home – don’t buy a fixer upper if you don’t have the time, energy or enthusiasm to renovate or re-build! 

Once you’ve got the 10 points above covered, then you might want to consider the optional features that a potential home has to offer. 

The survey also broke down some of its results by generation and not surprisingly, Gen Y ranked features that saved them time (dishwashers) and enhanced their lifestyle (pools) more highly than their Gen X and baby boomer counterparts. 

It’s also interesting to see solar panels ranked so highly. This represents heightened awareness around environmental issues in our society today. People are generally keen to protect the environment and if there’s a cost-of-living benefit, even better. Solar panels can reduce electricity bills as well as our carbon footprint, so they have a place on the wish list of green-minded buyers – just remember they’re an optional feature, not a fundamental one.