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What sells a house 

28/01/2002 The Star By Lim Lay Ying 

BESIDES location, what would actually prompt people to pay top dollar for a home? Are house buyers convinced by square footages and/or number of bedrooms and bathrooms to pay a premium in today’s marketplace? 

I doubt so, but yet so often, we are inundated with advertisements describing a house or an apartment in terms of square footage, number of bedrooms, and number of baths. 

Whether it is a RM5mil bungalow or a RM200,000 apartment advertised for sale by a builder or in the Classifieds section, the common lingo used would be: 

2 storey bungalow, corner 8533sf, large garden area, 8 rooms 8 baths; 

2˝ storey link 22’ x 85’ 5 rooms 4 baths; and 

2 rooms 2 baths 1,200sf, pool view, fully furnished. 

Being the most important investment of our lifetime, the home deserves to be defined for its qualities and not just the quantities so that the houses built will be more than just shelters. 

Take a look at how BMW markets its automobiles over seven decades. Each range of automobile, produced in limited quantities, is portrayed with a “distinct personality and unique driving character” and “with options that allow even the most demanding drivers to customise each car to their needs.” 

BMW stresses that its automobiles are not ordinary cars with four wheels that get you from point A to point B. Despite the diverse range of models, BMWs are never differentiated by their engine capacity nor car dimensions. 

Instead, the sleek marketing brochure sells on the qualities of the
automobiles, explaining to great precision, the technical elements and features, besides reassuring customers how their safety and security needs have been addressed, and the exclusive after-sales service even after the limited warranty period. 

On the road, a brand new BMW would be tagged at anything from RM200,000 onwards, depending on the model. The price of house or an apartment these days is in that region easily, or even very much more if it has an upscale address. Yet, it has seldom been that glorified and appreciated for its qualities – for those things that really affect the home owner’s experience of being in it. 

People long for a sense of shelter and comfort from their homes, homes which they can claim are uniquely theirs, and that can accommodate their lifestyles. 

Homes where each room is used everyday and where spaces are defined not by separate rooms but the activities that take place inside it. 

All too often, they are presented with a portfolio of plans which are two-dimensional representations based on the number of bedrooms and baths, without indications of heights of spaces and proportions/scales of each room. And because “spaciousness” is assumed to be what home buyers want, it is no wonder that houses keep getting larger and larger with more and more rooms thrown in. 

Clearly, what should happen before a house is planned or built is an analysis of the lives – the likes, dislikes, needs and wishes – of the people who will live in it. It should affect the way they live, without overwhelming them but instead, for them to feel safe. 

The master bedroom, for example, is a major selling feature that should be focused on. It is a retreat for the parents, a home within the home. Thus for upscale homes especially, it would be a luxury master suite complete with a separate den for use as a study or exercise room. 

Builders of such homes need to further equip the master bath with all imaginable luxuries such as whirlpool, oversized shower, two sinks, and skylight, besides the expected separate walk-in closets. 

The eat-in kitchens could be loaded with the latest high-end appliances, including stoves for gourmets and freezers, which serve their frequent entertaining needs. Large windows, skylights, and sunrooms are in because they give the occupants a feeling of generous space and make a home of 3,000 sq ft feel like a mansion. 

Family room connected to the kitchen has become the focal point of the house as it allows the parents to be with the kids, or guests, while preparing food. Because people like to feel casual when entertaining or hanging out, spaces like this should be adaptable and cater for various functions. 

Formal living and dining rooms are niceties but because they have proven to be unable to serve more than one function, family rooms are getting increasingly important to the home buyer. 

In essence, a house that favours quality of design over quantity of space is what sells. 


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