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The other important ‘L’ word in real estate besides location

Wednesday, 8th Aug 2012

Blueprint

Buying real estate is all about location, right? If you choose the right location, you’re well on your way to success. But while location is an important consideration, there is another ‘L’ word that can also affect the success of your investment: layout.

The layout of a property plays an enormous role in determining demand from renters and buyers, and therefore the value of your investment. Just think about how much effort people put into designing a floor plan for a new home and it’s easy to see why layout is such an important consideration.

A property’s layout involves the size and positioning of rooms, and the overall flow of the property. A good layout makes living more convenient and enjoyable, and a bad one can easily make a property feel cramped and uninviting. Have you ever heard someone walk into a property and say “It doesn’t feel right”? While they might not always be able to put their finger on what’s wrong, chances are they are talking about the layout.

It can be very difficult and expensive to correct a poor layout, especially when it involves moving load-bearing walls, so it’s important to carefully consider layout when buying a property. So what makes a good or bad layout? A lot of it comes down to fashion trends and personal tastes, but some preferences are pretty universal.

For instance, a lot of people prefer an open-plan layout where the kitchen, dining and living rooms are combined or at least very close together. People like to be able to be in the kitchen and still be connected to what’s happening in the rest of the house.

Something most people don’t typically like is where there is a bathroom or bedroom coming directly off a main living area, without some sort of privacy screening or corridor. Similarly, people don’t like it when the front entrance of a property opens directly into a living area, without some sort of buffer zone.

For some layout options, preferences are more split. For instance, some people prefer the master bedroom to be separated from the other bedrooms, but families with young children may prefer the alternative. In this case, the best layout depends on the particular market for the property.

No property has a perfect layout so when searching for a property there will always be compromises to be made. The key is to try to choose properties with layouts that appeal to a wide range of potential tenants and buyers.

When it comes to evaluating layouts, be aware that internet listings can be very misleading, even when you have the benefit of a floor plan. They don’t give you an accurate indication of size, space and flow. There is really no substitute for walking through a property with an expert eye for what to look for and what to avoid. That’s where a skilled buyer’s agent becomes invaluable.