How to Choose a House with Great Potential

Many of our projects are for clients who have purchased a home which is in need of updating. However, what if you’re only starting your search and looking for advice on how to identify those hidden gems? We’ve put together a few pointers on some of the things to consider when looking for a house to turn into your dream home.

Author: Mark Benzie

Choosing a house is a significant life decision, often shaped by various factors such as location, size, and budget. However, if you’re looking for a house with potential, your search criteria should extend beyond the immediate appearance and features. Houses with hidden potential may require a bit more vision and effort, but they can ultimately become the home of your dreams. In this guide, we’ll explore how to pick a house with great potential and turn it into the perfect home.

1. Location, Location, Location

The age-old adage in real estate holds true: location is paramount. The potential for appreciation in property value often starts with location but can often mean that other criteria, such as the property layout and interiors, need improving. This where we can help to turn it into the ideal property in the ideal location.

2. Assess the Area

Beyond the general location, delve deeper into the neighbourhood. Visit at different times of the day and week to get a feel for the area’s atmosphere. In many locations, proximity to transport or schools can be a major factor.  A detailed understanding of the area might identify pockets that are a similar distance from amenities but in a neighbouring suburb. This could be better value than being on the fringes of the current property hotspot and hence have more potential for future growth.

3. Look Beyond Kerb Appeal

Houses with great potential often hide behind lackluster kerb appeal. Don’t be discouraged by peeling paint, overgrown landscaping, or outdated exteriors. These are cosmetic issues that can be addressed relatively easily and should not deter you from exploring further. Overgrown gardens are particularly off-putting but surprisingly easy to transform.

4. Structural Integrity

While cosmetic issues can be fixed, structural problems can be more challenging and costly. Pay attention to the house’s foundation, roof, and overall structural integrity. Cracks in the foundation, sagging roofs, or signs of water damage can indicate potential issues. If you’re not experienced in assessing these aspects, get a professional survey.

5. Layout and Floor Plan

A house’s layout and floor plan are crucial to its potential. Consider how well the layout suits your needs and lifestyle. Look for houses with good bones and flexible spaces that can be adapted to your preferences. Knocking down walls, adding rooms, or reconfiguring spaces can often unlock hidden potential. Often the layouts can be unlocked relatively easily, especially where you would be factoring in the cost of interior refurbishment and decoration anyway. However, it does take skill in undertaking the design!

6. Future Expansion Opportunities

Assess the potential for future expansion or renovation. Look for houses with ample gardens or the possibility to build upwards. A small house with a large plot of land can be a goldmine for expansion or subdivision.

7. Identify Cosmetic Opportunities

Cosmetic updates are among the most common ways to unlock a house’s potential. Consider the following aspects:

a. Paint and Finishes

A fresh coat of paint can work wonders. Look beyond the current colors and finishes; visualize how a different color palette and modern finishes can transform the space.

b. Flooring

Dated or damaged flooring can be replaced with modern options like hardwood, laminate, or tile. Consider the cost and feasibility of flooring replacement when evaluating potential.

c. Kitchen and Bathrooms

Outdated kitchens and bathrooms are often prime candidates for renovation. The potential for modernisation and customization in these areas can significantly increase the overall value of the house.

8. Consult Professionals

Don’t hesitate to seek advice from professionals during the house-hunting process. If you’re seriously considering a house with potential, consult with contractors and architects. We can help you assess the feasibility and cost of renovation or expansion projects.

9. Crunch the Numbers

Before making an offer, carefully evaluate the financial aspects of buying a house with potential:

a. Budget

Determine your budget not only for the purchase but also for potential renovations and improvements. Be realistic about what you can afford.

b. Renovation Costs

Estimate the cost of necessary renovations and improvements. Get quotes from contractors if possible to have a clear understanding of the financial commitment.

c. Resale Value

Consider the potential resale value of the house after improvements. Consult with estate agents to understand how your renovations might affect the property’s market value.

10. Visualize the Transformation

Lastly, use your imagination to visualize the transformation. A little creativity and foresight can turn a rough diamond into a shining gem.


Choosing a house with great potential requires a combination of careful research, a discerning eye, and a willingness to invest time and effort into renovations and improvements. By focusing on location, structural integrity, layout, and cosmetic opportunities, you can unlock the hidden potential in a house and turn it into the perfect home. Remember that the journey of transforming a house into your dream home is a rewarding one, and with the right approach, you can create a space that truly reflects your vision and lifestyle.

We’re here to support you in this journey and keep you in the driving seat. We can help to minimise uncertainty and stress and help create a great home, but it does involve more work than buying a newer or refurbished home. Our aim is for our clients to be delighted with the end result, making the extra effort worth it.

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