More UK property owners improving rather than moving, study shows

Choose to improve rather than move in UK seen

An increasing numbers of property owners in the UK are deciding to improve rather than move home, according to new research from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Overall, 48% of chartered surveyor estate agents revealed the slow sales market are prompting people to improve their properties rather than move.

Across the UK, this was most prevalent in areas where the property market is more depressed, such as Northern Ireland, where 75% were improving rather than moving and the West Midlands at 71%.

However, even in more buoyant areas such as London, buyers are facing high property prices that are also prompting them to stay in their homes.

For those undertaking work to their homes, 44% of surveyors reported additional bedrooms were the improvement that added the most value.

Traditional improvements such as adding a new bathroom or kitchen were the next most valuable, at 18%. Adding a conservatory or reinstating period features were seen as desirable optional extras but not ones that add value.

Surveyors also noted that costs incurred for improvements would not always be covered by the potential increase in a property’s value, as this also depends on the quality of work and other features of the property, such as its style and location.

Respondents added that external factors were most likely to detract from a property’s price. Some 40% of surveyors found a property’s proximity to a noisy road or a railway decreased value, while known subsidence was seen as the next most likely to affect value.

RICS advises property owners not to tempted to over value an improvement and expect high instant returns irrespective of market conditions.

‘If extending, make sure that the accommodation provided (i.e. property size) is balanced with the size of the plot, bigger is not always better. When undertaking a loft extension or basement conversion, try to keep the style of the new rooms in sympathy with the style of the rest of the property. A modern extension on a traditional property may look odd and lose appeal,’ it said.

It also says that sellers should bear in mind that most areas have a ceiling price that is a maximum sale price you can expect to achieve. ‘Improving a poor property in a good location is better than improving a good property in a poor location. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, stick to a budget and ask the experts for advice,’ RICS adds.

‘Most properties provide some potential for expansion and improvement, but we would advise people to think about how much they are investing and their key motivator before undertaking major projects. It is important to think about the style and age of the property before undertaking any works. Remember, what appeals to some people may not appeal to others,’ said David Dalby, Professional Groups Director, RICS.

‘Costly disappointments can be avoided by prior planning and research. RICS advise that whatever you decide to do with your home you should seek professional advice and ensure all works are carried out by qualified contractors,’ he added.

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