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London property market blog

Property: inside and out

/ by Lisa MacKenzie

Adding value to your property - the improvements which do and don't add more

Many would-be sellers were unable to move during the recession due to finance difficulties or uncertainty in the market, and as a result we saw many homeowners opt to renovate and improve their homes instead.

Those who would typically have upsized because of a growing family chose instead to investigate loft or basement conversions or to extend out into their side return and create open plan, modern rooms that allowed for more space and interaction. The resulting effect has been that many owners have added a good deal of value to their property; sometimes increasing it by between 10% to 20% once the work was completed.

But while many have been savvy, recognising the typical renovations that offer a good return, others have sometimes invested significant sums of money into extras that just don't offer any value or actually decrease the value of a property.

Improvements which do generally offer a good return on investment include:

Extending into the side return or garden to create a large, open plan kitchen / reception. These extensions add the wow factor and are hugely sought after and therefore tend to sell extremely quickly.

Loft conversions are a relatively cheap way of adding an extra floor to a property where space is limited. These can often allow for both a bedroom and en suite bathroom and can improve a property’s value and saleability. As much of the work is carried out externally, disruption to the household is bearable!

Improvements which often cost more than they add:

Items that are largely considered luxurious such as swimming pools, Jacuzzis and bars are often a very personal thing. While within the prime London property market they can sometimes be expected, these things don’t tend to add much value to a property in the mainstream residential market sector.

While in prime central London, basement conversions are all the rage, in the outlying residential areas of London we find that often they just don’t add the value that is expected. The costs of basement conversions can be prohibitive and it is therefore easy to overspend relative to the value of the property. A poor basement conversion can have a negative effect on the property, consequently, significant sums need to be invested to produce the desired effect.

Improvements which can actually devalue a property:

London is renowned for its beautiful period properties, the majority of which tend to be either Victorian or Edwardian with many houses featuring lovely large, wooden sash windows. In an effort to conserve energy and make homes greener we’ve seen an increase in homeowners replacing these windows although unfortunately some opt for uPVC versions which have a plastic look about them rather than the traditional wooden sash windows.

Using a poor quality external render on a period property is another factor that can devalue a property – a buyer's first perception of a property will always be based on its external appearance so it’s important that it looks its best.

Many homeowners feel that the value of a property is directly linked to the number of rooms it has and therefore will opt for the maximum number of rooms rather than considering the overall quality, style and layout. This can be detrimental as in London value is often based on total floor space rather than the number of rooms, so having three lovely large bedrooms with two bathrooms is often preferable to having four small bedrooms and only one bathroom.

In my opinion, it is always worth checking with your local agent or architect what effect it could have on a property before you undertake the improvements. While the majority of the time they do improve a property’s value, there are the few occasions where they don’t and it’s always better to be informed where your biggest investment is concerned.

About our expert View all posts by this expert

Lisa MacKenzie Sales Director at KFH

Lisa has worked for KFH since 1987, having initally started out as a negotiator in the Southfields branch and then quickly progressing to sales manager. In 2003, Lisa was appointed to regional director of the entire South West London region, and is one of three sales directors appointed to the board in 2016. Lisa loves working with people and in her spare time she likes to spend time with her family and travelling 

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