Which makes new research by GoCompare Home Insurance all the more valuable, revealing – as it does – a list of the top 20 must-have property features for the nation's buyers.
Practical features such as central heating, double-glazing, home security and garden space topped the list, while a reliable broadband connection moved up into the top five for the first time – up from 8th place last year. This reflects the increasingly switched on, tech-savvy world we now live in, where fast internet speeds are seen as a necessity rather than a luxury.
In addition, a clear mobile signal and a good energy efficiency rating both launched themselves into the top 10 for the first time. By contrast, friendly neighbours (9th last year, 12th this) and access to a driveway or dedicated parking space (5th last year, 9th this) both slipped down the rankings.
The importance of a heated home and keeping that heat in
The top two property must-haves – by a comfortable margin – were central heating and double glazing (82% and 80% respectively).
Security is, of course, a key issue for nearly all buyers, with 74% stating that secure doors and windows were a necessity. Garden space is another popular must-have, especially among buyers with families, and 69% of those surveyed put this down as a priority.
The rising importance of technology in the home was also highlighted by the fact that a 'good, reliable broadband connection sufficiently strong enough to stream films and TV' (59%), 'plenty of electrical sockets' (also 59%) and 'a reliable, clear mobile phone signal' (53%) all made the top 10, which also included good access to 'local shops and amenities' (58%).
Lower down the list, but still deemed important by at least half (or just over half) of the respondents, were the presence of 'at least 2 toilets' and 'a bath tub'. A shower cubicle, cavity wall insulation, a living room big enough for a large flat-screen TV, a garage, a dining room, a landline telephone and a new boiler or central heating system made up the rest of the top 20 must-have features.
The not so must-have features
Buyers are likely to be less enamoured with a conservatory, with only 19% regarding this as a must-have in their new home, while wood floors (13%), good local schools (13%), open plan living spaces (9%) and period features (5%) were other low priorities – in some cases surprisingly so.
The need to be wise to new priorities
While some must-haves always stay the same, others are more fluid – with new top priorities emerging while others slip down the table. Connectivity and energy efficiency, for example, are now major factors for many buyers, while the research above suggests that the number of electrical sockets in a home is slightly more important than easy access to local amenities.
Fast broadband speeds, meanwhile, are slowly creeping their way up the must-have table, rising by three places on last year and important to 59% of buyers. In a world of Netflix, Now TV and Amazon Prime, platforms especially popular among first-time buyers, the ability to stream with ease is crucial – so buyers will be after broadband signals that are fast enough to cope with their streaming demands.
Fortunately, many of the top 10 must-haves are eminently achievable. It's highly likely that your home will have central heating, double glazing, secure windows and doors and, if it's a house or lower floor flat, garden space too. Good, reliable broadband connections are now more widespread across the country, although connectivity can still be a problem in rural areas or WiFi blackspots.
What's more, most homes these days have plenty of electrical sockets for all those tech devices. Local shops and amenities are also a common feature in cities, towns and villages throughout the land, so there is a good chance that your property – as long as it's not completely out in the sticks – can offer buyers this must-have feature.
A reliable, clear mobile phone signal is, like fast broadband speeds, something that is more out of your control, but most parts of the UK now offer this. Meanwhile, a good energy efficiency rating can be achieved by making sure your home is properly insulated, double glazing is installed on all windows and a good and effective boiler and central heating system are in situ.
All in all, you should have a home with plenty of must-have features which will, in turn, improve your chances of selling for a good price.