Liveability delivers results

March/April 2017 edition

As property prices continue to hit record highs, consumers are demanding more from their homes. It’s no longer just about putting a roof over your head. It’s about lifestyle, comfort and affordability. As a result, a new term has entered the arena – ‘liveability’.

By Helen Hull

“Liveability is about finding or creating your best house, which is healthy, efficient, comfortable and connected to your community,” Cecille Weldon, Real Estate Program Director at the Centre for Liveability Real Estate, explained.

Originally developed by LJ Hooker, the Centre for Liveability Real Estate was acquired by the CSIRO in June 2016 and, as a result, Liveability Real Estate Specialist training is now available to real estate agents right across Australia.

Cecille spent four years developing the Liveability Real Estate Framework. More than just a simple rating system, it’s a property marketing framework that enables the real estate industry to identify a collection of benchmarked Liveability Property FeaturesTM – The 17 ThingsTM – into the point of sale or rent. It allows agents to integrate these features into their normal processes in a robust and systematic way. The framework encompasses high-level professional training, an appraisal checklist and unique property marketing icons to appraise, sell, buy and rent homes with liveability property features.

“When you’re talking about liveability, it’s a very clear deliverable for homeowners and renters,” Cecille said.

When she was developing the framework, Cecille quickly learnt the word ‘sustainability’ was a barrier to opportunity and a new term needed to be created.

“Sustainability doesn’t mean anything anymore. It’s confusing and can mean hundreds of things,” she said. “This is why real estate hasn’t seen or understood the opportunity that’s lying behind that word.”

Enter ‘liveability’.

“Over the last 10 to 15 years, the design and construction industry has been delivering better houses in regard to design and comfort, and the potential for reduced running costs,” Cecille explained. “We also know that consumers are now looking for properties with lower running costs and this is impacting the perceived value of a property.

“In some ways, it’s the shadow side of affordability. There’s ‘afford to buy’ and then there’s ‘afford to live in’. The ‘afford to live in’ aspect is now impacting a property’s appeal to potential buyers and renters.”

More than energy efficiency
According to Cecille, energy efficiency is just one aspect of the Liveability Real Estate Framework. It’s also about water, energy, solar PV, passive design and living close to a vibrant community experience.

“The idea of ‘energy efficiency’ is not sexy,” she said. “Most people don’t lie awake at night and dream of an energy efficient house.

“Liveability is about delivering more. It’s about the life it will give you and creating a great lifestyle in your home – and reduced running costs have an impact on this.”
Delivering outcomes
Cecille said agents are getting quality results from their knowledge about liveability.“Research by the NSW Government* found that 89 per cent of consumers would find a home more attractive if these features were identified at the point of sale,” she said.

“This is where the Liveability Real Estate Framework comes in. As a Liveability Real Estate Specialist, agents have a better opportunity to secure the highest price in the shortest timeframe. They’re able to provide a better customer experience because of the training they’ve received and because they know more about the property and its features,” Cecille said.

Bryce Gibson, Principal at LJ Hooker Cessnock and Kurri Kurri, agrees. He believes owners of properties with Liveability FeaturesTM are securing better price outcomes and he’s finding more and more buyers are asking questions about these features.

“It’s a cultural change. There’s a strong interest in features like solar panels, LED lighting, heating and cooling installation, and rainwater tanks,” he said.

“People spend thousands of dollars on products and renovations for their home, and if you understand and have knowledge about the investment they’ve made and the reasons why they add value, it helps build rapport, trust and respect between you and the client. It can also be a big advantage when attempting to secure the listing.”

According to Bryce, what sets the Liveability Real Estate Framework apart is the training.

“If you haven’t done the training, it’s easy to dismiss certain features as having no tangible value. But, once you’ve done the training, you know what you’re looking at,” he said.

For every listing, Bryce completes The 17 ThingsTM appraisal checklist to identify the features the property has and then uses this when marketing the property.

“If you’re a Liveability Real Estate Specialist and a property has more than six of the 17 features listed in the checklist, you can include the Liveability FeaturesTM icon in your marketing.

“As power prices rise and people become more environmentally conscious, Liveability FeaturesTM will play an ever-increasing role in the property transaction,” Bryce said.

Trust and training
During the establishment of the Centre for Liveability Real Estate, Cecille found herself asking why agents weren’t hearing from consumers about their desire to know more about a property’s liveability features.

“Research says consumers don’t trust real estate agents to give them information about this,” she said. “However, if the agent had done specialist training, consumers say they would then trust them more than an agent who had not done such training.

“Trust is pivotal to any relationship. If consumers don’t trust us to know about the features of a property, then how can we position ourselves as property experts and remain relevant in the future?”

Industry-led disruption
According to Cecille, Liveability Real Estate Specialist training should be seen as an opportunity.

“It makes us more resilient to disruption as an industry,” she said. “The training adds value to the face-to-face agent-client relationship and cannot be taken over by a portal.

Sellers and landlords feel you really know their property when you’ve done a liveability appraisal and all the features of their property have been highlighted when it’s listed for sale or rent.

“Buyers and tenants are grateful and feel supported, because it’s addressing the running cost potential that’s on their mind.

“We should be proud as an industry that we’ve meaningfully disrupted ourselves without waiting to be disrupted from the outside. As an industry, it’s important that we lead this conversation and retain our position as property experts. This is an opportunity for everyone to get behind this initiative,” Cecille said.

To find out more about Liveability Real Estate Specialist training, go to* EnergyFit Homes: Enhancing the Market for Energy Efficient Homes Research Study, “Energy efficient features”, p 10, April 2016. 


Liveability Real Estate Framework

The Liveability Real Estate Framework is an integrated system that addresses the four aspects of the real estate property marketing industry: the real estate agent, who brings people and property together through effective online and print marketing.

The framework enables the real estate industry to identify and integrate Liveability Property FeaturesTM – The 17 ThingsTM – into the point of sale or rent in a robust or standardised way. As the ‘real estate moment’ is short but influential in driving a value proposition for residential properties, it’s important that agents are trained to identify these features and know why they’re important to liveability potential. Therefore, core to the framework is a new professional pathway in real estate – the Liveability Real Estate Specialist.

This specialisation builds on an agent’s existing sales and property marketing experience, and is refreshed and updated every 12 months to keep abreast of changes in residential building innovation.

The 17 Things TM

Each of the following Liveability Property FeaturesTM is benchmarked by industry property and there are four that require independent proof. A property must have a minimum of six of the features marked with an asterisk to qualify for the liveability icon on a property listing.


1. Climate zone of the property
2. Living locally
3. Orientation*
4. Cross-ventilation*
5. Zoning*

Floor plan and layout
6. Insulation*^
7. Density of building materials
8. Windows (glazing)*^
9. Shading or sun control*

Important energy and water saving inclusions

10. Efficient heating or cooling devices*
11. Energy efficient lighting*
12. Efficient hot water system*
13. Solar photovoltaic (PV) system*^
14. Low water garden*
15. Water efficiency devices
16. Rainwater tanks

Energy rating
17. Energy rating*^

* Minimum of six of these features is required
^ Independent proof required