The COVID-19 pandemic had a domino effect across industries, particularly in the real estate industry where record-low interest rates led to an upsurge in residential property sales in late 2020. Ultimately, however, property transactions also took a significant hit in 2020, likely due to the temporary closure of deeds offices. The current sector is characterised by growing vacancies and cutthroat competition amongst developers. Within this volatile landscape, investing in interior design could provide a means by which to gain a significant competitive advantage and increase valuations.
This is the opinion of Anna Weylandt, Lead Designer at Weylandtstudio, who has been called upon by a number of local property developers, to design and build new properties and spaces that will derive valuable returns in the long term. “Changes like installing new flooring, opening up more space for natural light and revamping a kitchen or a bathroom can make a significant impact on a property’s ultimate value. I am a firm believer that the value of good interior design should never be discounted as part of a property development strategy.”
Heading into 2021, a sharp rise in first-time home buying was predicted by at least one home loan institution, along with significant changes in consumer behaviour, which ultimately determines how buyers make purchasing decisions. And for first-time home buyers, in the context of a world that has been indelibly changed by the pandemic, the appeal of a “home” that serves utilitarian purposes but is also a “personal sanctuary,” is what people are looking for, says Weylandt.
One psychological study suggests that more complex or life-changing decisions like buying a home are made by the human subconscious rather than the conscious mind. This “heart-over-head” phenomenon provides insight into the importance of developing a space that appeals to the emotive aspects of decision-making.
The burning of vanilla aromatherapy oil or the brewing of coffee in a space to make it feel more homely and appealing, may seem like industry fallacies but research suggests otherwise. What psychologists refer to as the “primacy effect,” infers that the first emotion homebuyers feel is the emotion that remains dominant regardless of any information that is presented to them after that first encounter. In short, “first impressions count.”
As Weylandt explains: “When you walk into a house, you walk into a space that you may soon be living, working and playing in, and house buyers are acutely aware of this. Interior design can help developers make a lasting first impression and present them with something that they can be proud of. I like to think of interior design as part of the advertising strategy of a property – as designers, we give buyers a taste of the lifestyle they could live in the space with subtle suggestions, whether that be surface finishes or bathroom fixtures – the decision is in the details.”
Property developers who need assistance with bringing their vision for a property to fruition, could benefit from consulting with an interior designer who can provide advice on how adjustments can make an impact on their project’s ratings and value. “At Weylandtstudio, we assist our clients to build properties for people – we infuse everything we do with the human touch, taking into consideration how aspects like texture, colour and shape influence psychology. As our experience has shown us, interior design could be the aspect that gives a development a competitive edge,” says Weylandt.