Homeowners improve rather than move

Homeowners improve rather than move

Increasing numbers of homeowners are deciding to improve rather than move home, according to new research from RICS.

Overall, 48 per cent of chartered surveyor estate agents revealed the slow sales market is 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 per cent were improving rather than moving and the West Midlands (71 per cent). However, even in more buoyant areas such as London, buyers are facing high property prices which are also prompting them to stay in their homes.

For those undertaking work to their homes, 44 per cent of surveyors reported additional bedrooms were the improvement which added the most value. Traditional improvements such as adding a new bathroom or kitchen were the next most valuable, at 18 per cent. Adding a conservatory, or reinstating period features were seen as desirable optional extras but not ones which add value.

Surveyors also noted that costs incurred for improvements will 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. 40 per cent 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 chartered surveyors advise homeowners on how to get the most out of property improvements:

• Don’t be 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

• If you are trying to sell, bear in mind most areas have a ceiling price, i.e., 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.

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. 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.”


David Dalby, Professional Groups Director, RICS


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