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Focus On Your Customers Wants and Needs

Apr 2, 2008
Real Estate development, is a business like any other. Which means delivering a product that the market wants. For example in the suburbs, many people will want a double garage. To a city dweller however this may well be irrelevant.

Different areas have very different needs. I know that, on the other side of the world, the vogue in Manhattan is lots of bathrooms -- three in a cramped two-bedroom apartment is common. Nevertheless, two rules are etched in stone:

1. You must identify and meet the desires and needs of your market or pay the price.

2. Giving the people what they want doesn't have to cost you and arm and a leg -- if you know what you're doing.

With these in mind, I will now show you two ways to minimize your investment and maximize your returns. You might be surprised at the boost that these tweaks can give to your selling price.

Dividing up a building according to the needs of its future occupants is an art and a science: if you get it right, you're adding value without spending tons of money. And in the long run, it costs much less to build a few walls than it does to try to sell an unappealing property.

So keep these parameters in mind when you're working on a property: Medium density single family homes (courtyard and conventional lots) should have a double garage, or at least a single garage plus shed; three bedrooms; two bathrooms (one ensuite); and an open plan living room/kitchen/dining area that leads to an outdoor entertaining area.

Medium/high density town houses and units servicing singles and couples without kids should have a single garage; two bedrooms, as the occupants are likely to share the house with guests; one-and-a-half bathrooms; and the same open plan layout described above.

Believe me, I've learned these lessons the hard way. I once had a property that I really liked, except for one thing: it had a laughably small bathroom. I knew that my target buyers would want in-house laundry machines, but I balked when it came time to start tearing down walls. It just seemed too costly. As a result, it took me ages to find a buyer, and I had to go below my original price. If I had coughed up the extra money, built out the bathroom and added laundry, I would have made my money back and then some.

Fixtures and fittings
Pssssst...here's a secret: buyers are happy to accept a higher price tag if the property is equipped with a handful of attractive additions -- additions that you can buy without straying from your budget. They're the things we see and touch, like kitchen fixtures, bathroom fittings, garden features, hardwood flooring and window treatments. They may seem minor, but they're the point of contact between your potential buyers and your property.

Here's how you can take this tip even further: manage the installation and sourcing of the additions yourself, rather than paying a contractor to do it. This might sound like a drag, but I know from experience that spending a few days on the telephone can save you tens of thousands. And besides, most builders don't have the knack for these finer points. Do it yourself!

When people go house shopping, emotion and intuition plays a huge role. The way you design and outfit your property can make or break a deal. But don't worry about getting super creative or specific; buyers tend to follow a few broad guidelines. You'll never regret putting together a property that radiates openness and simple elegance.

Bottom line: do your research, make your tweaks and watch your yields rise.
About the Author
Daniel Lock is a property coach, consultant and development manager. Offering results-driven coaching and consulting to people wanting to make money through property development. Find out how you can make serious money safely in Property Development at http://PropertyDevelopmentProfits.com/blog/
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