Unique and interesting features that will help – and hinder – the sale of your home in SA

Unusual features can have great appeal, especially when the general characteristics of the home are in line with current trends.

According to Sandy Geffen, Executive Director of Sotheby’s International Realty South Africa, there is a very close correlation between a property’s uniqueness and the size of the potential buyer pool.

The higher the property rates on the “interesting” scale, the more significantly that pool shrinks – and this can impact both return on investment and length of time needed to sell, said Geffen.

“That said, unusual features can have great appeal, especially when the general characteristics of the home are in line with current trends.”

Sotheby’s real estate agents across South Africa pointed out which unique features are likely to help sell your home.


Johannesburg (Waverley, Oaklands and Norwood) – Kobus Venter and Marc Maron

“People want something that sets a home apart from just an average box like hundreds of others, so details like bay windows or perfectly placed balconies can be very attractive to buyers.

“The most popular Norwood home listing averaged 300 internet views per month and it sold because of the volume and feeling of lightness and space added by extra-high ceilings.”

Low maintenance gardens top the list of outdoor space requests and many buyers now even prefer bore-holes to pools in today’s economy”.

“Large gardens used to be strong selling points, but buyers are increasingly seeking more compact gardens that need less attention, use less water and offer more security”.

“People are also becoming more averse to long commutes in the growing traffic congestion and first prize is to be within easy driving distance of their places of worship, regular shops, work place and children’s schools.”


Johannesburg (Midrand) – Grahame Diedericks

“We have seen some amazing features clinch deals in recent years including hidden wine cellars, state-of-the-art smart home automation systems, exquisite entertainment areas and luxurious spa bathrooms,” said Diedricks.

“However, there are also more common features that can sway buyers and one of the most noticeable trends in our area at the moment is fold-back patio doors because they allow for more spacious living and entertainment areas and create an open flow through the property.”


Pretoria East – Juanita du Plessis

“We are currently seeing more emphasis placed on quality kitchen counter tops and cupboards with solid wood in minimalist contemporary lines being most popular and marble tops have made a strong comeback, but they’re pricey and not for all budgets,” she said.

“Bathrooms are equally important to buyers, who mostly also prefer minimalist designs. Vanities in solid wood are very trendy and monochrome colour schemes are most popular.”

Du Plessis also pointed to energy efficiency becoming a key aspect for buyers in her area, with LED lighting, solar geysers and water tanks being the most commonly requested and installed.

“While green living is by no means a new idea it is certainly gaining in popularity, especially in new builds when it’s easier to install most of the systems.”


Cape Town (False Bay and Noordhoek) – Steve Thomas

The features most commonly at the top of prospective buyers’ wish lists are open-plan living areas, lots of natural light and, increasingly, eco-friendly systems that save water and reduce the cost of energy,” he said.

“In Cape Town people also prefer to live north-facing, which is largely related to the two main weather influences: warmth and sunshine and protection against the south-east wind.”

On a practical note, the realtors all agree that low maintenance and convenience are now priorities for a growing number of buyers.


Features that limit your chances to sell

While there are current trends with undeniably broad appeal, there are also features that can make homes very difficult to sell. 

Maron and Venter are finding that face brick homes now often remain on the market for up to twice as long as other properties and those with red-tiled roofs are even harder to move.

“We have noticed that grey has become a very popular paint colour for roofs, as old red roof tiles really date a home.”

Du Plessis agrees, adding that even when face brick homes have beautifully renovated interiors they are still a hard sell because many buyers are influenced by kerb appeal – or lack thereof.

This was echoed by Geffen who noted that bright wall colours like yellow and red that were once so popular can also put off buyers, so it’s advisable to repaint in neutral tones before putting a home on the market.

“Another big no-no is wall-to-wall carpeting, especially in living areas, as most buyers prefer hardwood floors, and some people even consider carpeting unsanitary. And unless it’s a contemporary feature wall, rooms decorated with traditional wall paper are likely to have the same negative effect on potential buyers.”

While the other were primarily concerned with physical appeal, Thomas noted that with security at the forefront of most buyers minds, it can be a problem if the garage is situated too far from the house and also if basic security features are not in place.


Read: How much the average first-time buyer is paying for a house in South Africa

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Unique and interesting features that will help – and hinder – the sale of your home in SA