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10 Property Must-Haves!

Looking for a house that's a good investment? (Er, yes!) We ask the experts what are the most important things to keep in mind that add value to your house and make the space work for you...

The four walls in which we dwell (grow our families/dance on tables/snore on sofas) is inevitably the most expensive purchase we make. So what are the most important things to keep in mind (apart from the obvious, like it’s not falling down… or riddled with damp…) that add value to your house and make the space work for you? We grilled Fiona Penny, founder of Fiona Penny Bespoke Home Finders, who has 11 years experience in the property industry on her ‘Top 10 Things To Look For in a Home’. Here we go:


Think about where do you want to be? The most beautiful house will never be the perfect home if it is in the wrong place. Fiona says: ‘Also consider whether school catchment areas are or will be important in the future. Thinking ahead could save an expensive and unwanted subsequent house move a few years down the track. Is the commute both easy and affordable?’ Kent and East Sussex offer beautiful countryside and lovely coastlines, combined with generally easy and quick commutes into London for work.


What do you like and are you appreciative of what a certain type of property is likely to offer? Fiona says: ‘If you like period features do not be afraid of a Listed home but also be aware of potential drawbacks, such as low ceilings, smaller windows and smaller rooms. Modern homes, such as 1970s properties should not be discounted as they often have huge potential, with more light, larger rooms and a more open plan layout.’ If you are lucky enough to find a modernised period property then you may have managed to get the best of both worlds.


Some people really like a doer-upper, project house, on which they feel they can leave their mark and add value. Others want it all revamped, finished and ready to go. ‘Studying floor plans and checking the overall layout, positioning of rooms and room sizes can save a wasted viewing or may give you ideas and possibilities on how you can modify or improve a layout to work for you,’ says Fiona. ‘But then be sure you can afford to make the changes.’ Similarly a ‘lived in house’ might be perfectly fine for ‘making do’ in the short-term but a good investment for updating and adding value in the future.


Often overlooked, but equally important. You need to consider the way the house and the various rooms face in regard to the sun’s position through the day. ‘Is morning sun or evening sun crucial to you in a certain room – especially kitchens or lounge areas?’ asks Fiona. ‘North facing rooms will always struggle to feel warm and cosy with no direct sunlight so these need to be the rooms that are less important to you.’


Things like broadband are crucial nowadays with the increasing opportunities to work from home and the relentless pressure to provide fast internet speed to handle all your kids’ devices! ‘Could there potentially be a day when both you and your other half work from home?’ asks Fiona. ‘Think about one or even two potential work spaces – perhaps one formal and one more casual area that allows potential for more than one person to set up a laptop, or for kid’s doing homework and even just general household admin.’


It is not possible to over-exagerate just how life-changing a good utility room is (the clue is in the name after all). If you have a dog or like your walks you’ll know about mud, mud. glorious mud *sigh*. And alongside the more functional utility room, a large boot room keeps the muck and clutter away from the front door and hallways. ‘Allowing practical storage of shoes, boots and coats these days can be as stylish as the rest of your home,’ says Fiona. ‘And if you have a dog it’s the perfect spot for them to dry off after a walk.’


As you know, just like Kent’s best English sparkling wine, you can never have enough of it! ‘If it does not have enough for your needs, then look at whether you can improve it and can afford to make the necessary changes,’ says Fiona. ‘Can a utility room be added to make space in a kitchen? Can fitted wardrobes add a sense of order to the bedrooms? Is there adequate garage and shed space outside?’


These days you hear a lot about indoor-outdoor flexible living. ‘This is basically the trend towards large sliding and bi-fold doors which allow the inside to lead seamlessly outside, but can be an expensive addition to consider if not already installed,’ says Fiona. ‘Check whether the outdoor seating areas face East (lovely for morning sun) West (perfect for evening sun) or South (a great all rounder). If not, can you consider re-landscaping to allow for sociable lounge and dining areas away from the house but in a better position?’


Is there potential for this? It can be a hugely versatile space and an extension of your home, advises Fiona. ‘Creating extra indoor-outdoor living, whether that be a home office, an art studio, a garden dining room or a kid’s den. If not already there, is there enough space without compromising the garden and will your budget stretch to install one?’


And Fiona’s last piece of advice: ‘Whether you use it as a playroom, study or den – an extra reception room of any sort will always give you maximum flexibility and will become invaluable extra space as your family grows up and your needs change.’ If you can stretch the budget to a property that already has this feature, so much the better. Or look for properties that could be adapted, re-worked or possibly extended in the future.

At the end of the day, whatever you are looking for, make sure you find a home that makes your heart sing.

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