As the former editor of a number of home magazines, Brenda Ward’s found that many buyers tend to look for the same desirable features in a house.

You’ve found a house and you’re thinking of buying it? Check your wish-list against her guide to what to look for.


Houses near water, parks, and cafes all feature highly on the most-wanted lists. Add 10 points.

Next come school zones, houses near your workplace, to reduce commuting, and houses near public transport. Add 7 points

Away from a main road. Add 3 points.



New houses win hands-down for construction that’s up to the most recent codes. They’ll give you years free of maintenance. Add 10 points.

Older but solid, soundly constructed homes should give come with low maintenance costs. Add 7 points.

Brick and tile homes are favourites for low maintenance. Add 5 points.

Aluminium windows are a plus. To add value, retrofit wooden windows with aluminium frames. Add 3 points.

French doors give the famed ‘indoor-outdoor’ flow, and increase the home’s desirability. Add 3 points.


Open-plan kitchen-living areas are tops for buyers and great for entertaining. Add 10 points.

A kitchen island gives a central living hub for families. Add 5 points.

Older kitchen in need of renovation. Take away 10 points, or if you love DIY add 5 points.


Four-bedroom homes are more expensive, but probably not worth the extra money unless you have a big family. If it’s a bargain, add 9 points.

Three bedrooms offer the most versatility for both family and flatting situations. This will take a couple from being newly-weds, to having one child and a study, to having two kids, each with their own room. Add 10 points.

One-bedroom homes are the least popular, because most people want to have friends to stay from time to time. Take away 10 points.


In modern homes, often each room will have an en suite bathroom. Add 10 points.

Two bathrooms is perfect for most houses, when you need to get kids out of the house quickly. Add 8 points

One bathroom, but freshly renovated. Add 3 points.

One bathroom, needs renovating. Take away 8 points.


A flat lawn for kids to kick a ball around is the most popular option. 10 points

A barbecue area adds appeal, paved or decked, and connected to the house by ranch-sliders or French doors. 7 points.

A small area for a vegetable garden offers future savings on food. 7 points.


Most popular is two garages, which will be convenient both for a couple or a flatting situation.10 points

Off-street parking for one more car is perfect. 5 points.

How did you go?

To rate the property you’re looking to buy, add up the points.

80-100+: Top marks, this house ticks most of the boxes.

60-80: Good potential, is there room to improve it?

0-60: Go back through and work out what you can live with.

Published 25 November 2019

Brenda Ward is the editor of JUNO Investing magazine, and a former editor of Your Home & Garden, Homestyle and Trends magazines. Pie Funds Management Limited is the issuer of the JUNO KiwiSaver Scheme. You can read our Product Disclosure Statement here. All content is correct at time of publication date. This article is general in nature only and has not taken into account any particular person’s objectives or circumstances. Before relying on it, we recommend you speak with an independent financial adviser.