Forget breathtaking views of the Highlands â€“ what most house-buyers really want is a fast and reliable broadband service, according to a new survey of Scottish home-hunters.
A good broadband connectionÂ now tops off street parking and access to local amenitiesÂ as one of the vital deciding factors forÂ people buying a new house. The findings follow a nationwide study of more than 1,500 homebuyers carried out by broadbandchoices.co.uk.Â
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 thatÂ a property had good broadband speeds was routinely rankedÂ as more important thanÂ traditional plus selling points such asÂ off street parking, access to amenitiesÂ likeÂ shops and a local pub and even proximity to a doctorsâ€™ surgery.
OneÂ in six Scots had actively checked broadband speeds when evaluating a house â€“ even before doing a recce of the local area – and one in ten house seekersÂ Â admittedÂ they hadÂ activelyÂ Â disregardedÂ a property because it had a poor internet connection. And 57 per cent of Scots admitted broadband speed would affect their decision when moving house.
The UK government recently announced a Â£114m investment in broadband across key cities to make Britainâ€™s broadband the fastest in Europe by 2015. But now in 2012, broadband speed varies greatly across the country, and these variations are having an impact on the property market. Rural areas still suffer the most, with speeds far slower than in urban environments.
Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove said: â€œIn this digital age, a fast broadband connection is becoming more and more important for home-hunters. People donâ€™t just rely on a good internet connection for browsing the web, but also television entertainment and working from home.
â€œAs 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.â€
To prove how important buyers consider a goodÂ broadbandÂ service, one in five (19%) of those new movers questioned revealed they arranged an internet provider before connecting gas (10%) or TV (8%)Â â€“Â setting up a broadband connection was second only to finding a new electricity supplier.
In a trial carried out byÂ broadbandchoices.co.uk and independent estate agents Delaneyâ€™s, where broadband speeds were included online, alongÂ with price,Â the number of bedrooms and room sizes,Â viewing requests for those properties showing broadband speeds were twice as high as those without.
This comes as 43 per cent of Scots said that estate agents should include broadband speed details in their adverts.
Rob Delaney, managing directorÂ of Delaneyâ€™s Estate Agents, comments, â€œAs with south-facing gardens and good schools, people are now on the hunt for homes with fast broadband â€“ itâ€™s a sign of the times. But we were still really surprised with the results of this trial. Weâ€™re now displaying broadband speeds on all our property details going forward, as itâ€™s clear thatâ€™s what customers are looking for.â€
As well asÂ 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%)Â prospective buyersÂ said they would be happy to pay more for a property â€“Â a third claimed they would pay between two and five per cent extraÂ â€“ to have a high speed broadband connection.
This could add as much as Â£15,000Â to the value ofÂ a property worth Â£300,000.
Dominic Baliszewski of broadbandchoices.co.uk commented, â€œWhen it comes to buying a property it seems that itâ€™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 itâ€™s little wonder itâ€™s now such a major factor for homebuyersÂ â€“ much like running water or a central heating system. Itâ€™s very easy to check broadband speeds in a specific area so weâ€™d urge potential home buyers to do this rather than be left disappointed.â€
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 â€“ useful for those selling their homes. Both services are available to use for free at http://www.broadbandchoices.co.uk.