Forget breathtaking views, jacuzzis and en-suites – what most house-buyers really want is a fast and reliable broadband service, according to a new survey of home-hunters.
A good broadband connection now beats off-street parking and access to local amenities as one of the vital deciding factors for people buying a new house.
The findings follow a nationwide study of 1,500 homebuyers carried out by broadbandchoices.co.uk and property expert, Henry Pryor.
And in the first trial of its kind, independent estate agents have tested the impact of broadband on the buying decisions of home movers, by including internet speeds on their adverts.
Knowing that a property had good broadband speeds was routinely ranked as more important than traditional selling points such as off street parking, access to amenities like shops and a local pub.
One in five questioned had actively checked broadband speeds when evaluating a house – even before doing a recce of the local area.
And one in ten house seekers admitted they had walked away from properties with a poor internet connection.
Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove said: “In this digital age, a fast broadband connection is becoming more and more important for home-hunters. People don’t just rely on a good internet connection for browsing the web, but also television entertainment and working from home.
“As the consumer technologies which rely on internet connection in the home expand, the need for a strong internet connection will be added to more and more home mover wish-lists.”
To prove how important buyers consider a good broadband service, one in five (19%) new movers revealed they arranged an internet provider before connecting their gas (10%) or TV service (8%) – setting up a broadband connection was second only to finding a new electricity supplier.
In a trial carried out by broadbandchoices.co.uk and independent estate agents Delaney’s, broadband speeds were included online, along with price, the number of bedrooms and room sizes. Viewing requests for those properties showing broadband speeds were twice as high as those without.
Rob Delaney, managing director of Delaney’s Estate Agents in Essex, comments: “As with south-facing gardens and good schools, people are now on the hunt for homes with fast broadband – it’s a sign of the times. But we were still really surprised with the results of this trial. We’re now displaying broadband speeds on all our property details going forward, as it’s clear that’s what customers are looking for.”
As well as making a property more appealing, the study also revealed that broadband could help to add to the value of a house. One in five (18%) prospective buyers said they would be happy to pay more for a property – a third claimed they would pay between two and five per cent extra – to have a high speed broadband connection.
This could add as much as £15,000 to the value of a property worth £300,000.
Dominic Baliszewski of broadbandchoices.co.uk commented: “When it comes to buying a property it seems that it’s more a case of broadband, broadband, broadband than location, location, location.
“Broadband has become something that people are not prepared to live without, so it’s little wonder it’s now such a major factor for homebuyers – much like running water or a central heating system. It’s very easy to check broadband speeds in a specific area so we’d urge potential home buyers to do this rather than be left disappointed.”
Charlotte Frost, 24, and Matthew Anderson, 26, from West Byfleet, Surrey, were first time buyers who dismissed one of their favourite shortlisted properties because it had a slow broadband connection.
Charlotte said: “We had looked at various houses within a few different areas in Surrey and had fallen in love with a small cottage in Cobham. We thought it was ‘the one’ and were literally just about to sign on the dotted line until my boyfriend asked about the internet connection at the house. The estate agent admitted he didn’t know, so we spoke to both the seller and did independent speed tests online for the postcode and found it was very poor. It was a real shame as it was otherwise perfect, but it was a massive factor for us given that Matthew often works from home.”
Following the survey, broadbandchoices.co.uk has now included all fibre optic package details on its Ofcom-accredited postcode search tool, which lets homebuyers check the available broadband deals by price and speed, so people have an idea of what they will have to pay and the speeds they can expect for the property they want to buy. This can be found on the home page.
The site also offers a broadband speed tester, which allows users to check their existing connection speed from anywhere in the UK – useful for those selling their homes. Both services are available to use for free at http://www.broadbandchoices.co.uk.