The death of the en-suite? What buyers are looking for in a property

Sarah Coles
Sold sign on house with family in the background
Sold sign on house with family in the background

A new survey has identified the top twenty things that property hunters are looking for in their dream home. There's bad news for anyone who has spent a small fortune restoring period features, installing a wood burner, or building an en-suite, because none of those come close to breaking the top twenty.

The survey, done for, was notable both for the things that made the list, and those that didn't.
The basics

Some of it came as no surprise, as the top of the list was dominated by the basics that no homeowner would choose to be without. First was central heating - which was considered essential by 78% of buyers. This was followed by secure windows and doors (at 73%) and double glazing in third place (at 72%).

Some of the top twenty was in fact made up of the sorts of things you'd be pretty horrified to see were missing. These included a bath (in seventh place) and a cooker (eighth).

Other items would have been on this kind of list for decades. These include a garden (in fifth place), off-road parking (in ninth), local shops and amenities (11th), friendly neighbours (13th), at least two toilets (17th), a garage (18th) and a dining room (19th).

Unexpected additions

What's more notable is another two categories that have joined the list far more recently. These include energy-efficiency measures, which have become more important as people have seen their energy bills shoot up over the years. This is responsible not only for double glazing in third place, but also for a good energy efficiency rating in 13th and cavity wall insulation listed 15th.

What's perhaps even more unexpected is that we are no so obsessed with staying connected, that phones and media make up a fifth of the entire list. Central to it all is good broadband speed, which makes it into fourth place and was named as an essential must-have by 70% of people. This was followed by a land line in 6th, a reliable mobile phone signal in 10th, satellite TV in 16th, and a living room big enough for a 42" TV in 20th. This last item was picked by an astonishing 40% of people.


Items that have fallen by the wayside to make room for these new additions including en-suite bathrooms, which are only considered a must-have by 30% of people. The rest of the country is presumably willing to walk a few feet down the corridor for the privilege of not having to hear anyone they share a bedroom with going to the bathroom.

Others that have dropped off the list include a conservatory - which only appeals to 19% of people, and an open fireplace - which was noted by just 14%. Good local schools were a vital feature for just 13% of people, and period features named by 7%.

What does this mean?

Clearly much of this list is confirmation of what people consider the basic necessities of life. So if you are torn between installing a bath or a shower in the property, it's useful to know that more people consider a bath to be essential than a shower cubicle.

You might also be tempted to see this list as a checklist of how to invest in your home over the years in order to appeal to more buyers. According to this list, your priorities ought to include double glazing and satellite TV, because while you may get satisfaction from restoring an old fireplace in a period property, not enough buyers care in order to make it worth the effort.

However, there's another side to this.

The survey asked people to name the important aspects of a property: without factoring in how much people really cared about each of them. It means there's every chance that things made it to the list because most people cared a little bit about it, while other things fell off the list that some people would put as their first priority.

If you asked someone with children of school age to tick 20 things on this list they may decide that they'd probably prefer somewhere with cavity wall insulation, but you can be certain they will be far more focused on the quality of the local schools.

Likewise, period features may only be a priority for 7% of people, but many of those 7% will have this at the top of their list - and wouldn't dream of moving into a new property, or one where the fireplaces have all been ripped out.

When you are selling your home, you don't have to tick all of the boxes for all of the viewers: you just need to offer one family the home of their dreams.

But what do you think? Were you surprised by anything on the list - or anything that didn't make it? Let us know in the comments.

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