7 Tips to Increase the Value of Your Home in London

Increasing the value of your home in London is a smart way to go further with your investment. Even if housing prices naturally increase in the area as it develops, renovating and improving your London home will boost its value even further. Between improving its aesthetics for yourself, and increasing the financial value for when you sell, here at Elliot Leigh we want to share with you our top seven tips to get you there!

1.    Keep your property in good repair

Regularly deep clean your property, stay on top of any mould and damp, and generally aim to fix any issues as they arise. This will keep your home in great condition and help you spread out the cost of maintenance. In return, you won’t have to heavily negotiate on the price of your home when the time comes to sell, or risk it being actually unsellable because a small issue became a big issue simply because it wasn’t handled at the time.

2.    Install and nurture front and rear gardens

Front and rear gardens are a great way to improve the overall look of your property, and almost 1 in 5 buyers want these features. As a bonus, you’ll have a project that will keep you fit, out amongst the nature, have a beautiful home, and a lovely place to sit!

Tip: Many people today are looking to live more sustainably. Having beautiful gardens is a great way to start, as it offers a breath of fresh air even in the density of a city. To really appeal to these buyers, however, consider investing in a kitchen garden. Something that can be easily maintained, such as a wall of herbs, for example as this can really help sell your home.

3.    Add character features to your property

Far too often, beautiful character features get removed, so consider adding them in! Change lighting fixtures and fittings to options you find characterful or quirky, replace flooring to incorporate hardwood, add mouldings, beams and even an open fire or log burner. These character features add to the beauty of your home and can become a true selling point later on. At the very least, these character features will help your property stand out against the others in your area and make it easier to sell your property quickly.

4.    Improve your home energy efficiency

In terms of adding value to both the sale price and your wallet now, improving your property’s energy efficiency is key. This means replacing windows if they are not double glazed – or if they are very old, as double glazing loses its efficiency over time – it means insulating your home and changing the main doors so that they are better sealed. It could also mean investing in a new heating system. Central heating is a popular option, but there are many alternative means to heat a home that are even more efficient. If you get these changes done early, you can lower the cost of your utilities, and boost the value of your home.

5.    Add a bedroom

Adding a bedroom will instantly put your property into the next price bracket. A two-bedroom home will never sell for as much as a three-bedroom home, and if you have a sizeable loft you have the perfect opportunity to convert it. For even better results, add an ensuite!

Tip: Adding a home office or a playroom can be just as lucrative as adding a bedroom and can be done at a much lower cost. Add a rear extension to your property and use that extra space to make room for a downstairs office or child-friendly zone. With the rise of remote working, both of these options will appeal to working professionals and parents.

6.    Renovate the bathrooms

Modern bathrooms can look fantastic and help you feel like you have a spa in your own home! They can also increase the value of your property. Bathroom remodels are one of the top renovations that buyers and homeowners want done for their property, and new technology and materials are better than ever at keeping the room sealed and your home free of damp.

7.    Renovate the kitchen

Kitchen styles come and go, and chances are the kitchen you inherited when you bought the house is not to your standards or tastes. Renovate with timelessness in mind and remember to ensure your kitchen’s value is in line with your property’s value. A successful kitchen renovation can boost the value of your home significantly, but make sure you stay within your budget so that you see the value back.

For expert advice on increasing the value of your home in London, contact the team at Elliot Leigh on 0208 960 8000 today.

Gazumping & Sealed Bids


In case you haven’t heard the property market is once again on the ascendancy. For the first time in years, most sales agreed are going to sealed bids with people fighting for the same property. In January, most of the properties we sold at sealed bids were the same ones that struggled to sell the year before for much less.

One such instance in which another agent struggled to get a sale on last year at £550,000 came back on the market in January with us at £600,000. I told the vendor the market had picked up and I was confident we could sell it. I very rarely get my expectations wrong but  in all honesty the dramatic upturn in the market caught me off guard and I wasn’t expecting to achieve the asking price with this one. Within days we had an asking price offer and after the first weekend of viewings the bids came in. £620k, £625k and so it went on. There were two people desperate for it. The ironic thing was one of the buyers had noticed the property 6 months ago with the other agent at £550,000 and could have bought it for less than that then. They just didn’t want to sell theirs in a depressed market. As I was saying all last year, a depressed market is probably the better time to sell and upsize. What you sell and buy for is all relative anyway so why not sell and buy at a lower figure. If your property has come down 10% then the chances are the bigger and more expensive property you are looking to buy has also come down, so you are in a better position.

I digress. When it comes to having buyers fighting over a property, the cleanest way of handling the situation is via a sealed bid scenario. Best and final offers to the manager of the agency by a set time. Otherwise you end up in a “Dutch Auction” in which all buyers involved outbids each other by £1,000. This can take a lot of time and becomes stressful for all involved.

The problem arises when one buyer gazumps another. The only ones to get the blame are the agent. What many people are not aware of is that, as agents, we are legally obliged to disclose every offer to the vendor, whenever they come in. The Ombudsman code of conduct is as followsThe agent must record all offers received and pass a written copy of the offer promptly to the seller. The agent must not conceal, misrepresent, withhold or delay communicating offers”

Estate agents are working for the vendors (Sellers). They are our paying clients and as such our job is to get them the best possible price. Many buyers however, have the preconception that we like to gazump buyers by a thousand here or there and will call us untrustworthy when that is far from the truth. We cannot control if and when a buyer decides to offer. Once they do, if we were to withhold that offer from the vendor (unless they have specifically asked us to) then we can get in serious trouble, as this in itself would be untrustworthy. Unfortunately in UK law, anyone can offer until the point of exchange which can make things difficult.

From our perspective, if we have conducted viewings and secured a good buyer, done all the paperwork and started progressing a sale, the last thing we want to do is start again with a new buyer. Remember, money is just one of many factors. Someone with £5k more may not be in as good a position due to chains, financial standing, etc. Your average estate agent will earn approximately 8% – 10% of the agency’s fee. There is really no merit in them actively pushing to gazump their buyer if they are solid and proceeding. Agents just move on to the next sale. For example, on a £350,000 property at an average 1.5% fee of £5,250, the agent will earn £525 at 10%. To get another £5,000 on the offer would mean the agent earns an extra £7.50!

To a vendor this can be a lot of money which is why we need to disclose it but most will stick with the original buyer out of goodwill if they are progressing well. However, some may not. If that is the case the agent will get the brunt of the original buyers fury, possibly a bad review online and then having to start with a new buyer, delaying the time they will get paid their extra £7.50!

Whilst buyers hate them, sealed bids are a way of slimming down the chances of gazumping. The idea is buyers do really stretch to their best and final offers and not carry on the negotiation process. The preconception is that agents love doing big open days and getting 20 or so offers. We went through it some years back but I actually quite prefer a calmer yet active market whereby we achieve the vendor an asking price (or very close to) with a solid buyer, then move on. You can only sell to one person so letting 19 or so down can be difficult and stressful for all involved. I am not asking for anyone to feel sorry for us, just my honest perspective of what goes on behind the scenes


New kitchen or new buyers?

One of the main questions I get on valuations is “should I do works on the property before selling?”.

Generally speaking, the answer is no. Minor repairs and a lick of paint are simple cost-effective ways that go a long way to create a more desirable space. However on the whole, drastic changes like a new kitchen, bathroom or even a loft conversion are not usually the way forward. Yes you will add value, especially adding square footage in the form of an extension or loft conversion and, with the latter, you could achieve a greater return than you outlay. However, is it really worth the time and effort if you are just going to sell straight away?

If you are doing it for your own needs and will enjoy the fruits of your labour then go for it. Truth be told, if you are thinking of doing works just to sell I wouldn’t go out of your way to put your own touch on it, different buyers have different taste and you can’t guarantee your refurbishment will appeal to buyers. I’ve been on countless valuations where the owners are living in tired homes and they think a B&Q kitchen (other kitchen outlets also available!) will get them an extra £50k. I just think to myself, why did you live like this for so many years when you could have enjoyed a new kitchen and bathroom yourself!

Just by changing such rooms is not enough to appeal to new buyers and, in some cases, can put prospective buyers off further as they would rather have a say in the finish, spec, colour, etc.

Traditionally in the areas I cover, namely Shoreditch, Hackney and Bow, the creative buyers could see past even the most odorous of pig sties and have a vision of the space they wanted to create. In fact, I have been involved in a number of sales whereby a run-down probate house has sold for between £30k and £50k less than a nice house on the street. This is despite it needing over £100k works to make it liveable. It seems the worse the condition, the more desirable it became.

Times have changed of late and I am experiencing a noticeable swing in the pendulum. The demand for really poor properties such as probates is still present. However, now it has to be the right price and those that are immaculate are getting a noticeable increase in viewing activity, multiple offers and even premium prices achieved. Also, those in the middle i.e. the tired properties needing more minor cosmetic work such as ex buy-to-lets are really struggling more than ever.

So what are the reasons for this?

Well, I believe there are a number of factors that have led to this change in sentiment. Firstly unfavourable tax law changes for buy to let landlords has meant many have exited the market of late leading to a glut of properties coming on for sale that have been rented for years and are generally in no more than average condition. Areas such as Hoxton especially (which has a large density of rented ex-local authority flats) has seen huge dips in prices, more than the average for Hackney. Is the condition of the properties the main factor for the price dip however?

The demand for such stock in general is low at present anyway as they have historically attracted buy to let investors, the very same people that are offloading or looking outside of London for bigger yields. This though doesn’t explain the fact that the few lived in and immaculate flats are selling for a premium in the very same area. For example, we recently sold a very nice two bedroom ex-local authority for £462,000 whilst struggling to sell an average 3 bedroom in the next block at £450,000. That suggests to me that the difference in condition is a big factor as two beds have historically sold for around £50k less.

There is a theory that the 3 bedroom are less desirable as they are prime for investors as opposed to 2 beds which still attract first time buyers and those looking for a home to live in. Surely then you are better off buying a tired 3 bed and sprucing it up yourself?

And there’s the issue. Either the first time buyers are not even thinking to search the 3 beds (which I doubt), or my theory is right and the well finished properties sell for so much more now.

That still doesn’t answer why this is the case though. The fact that building costs are now much higher than they were two years ago may have something to do with it. Could this be a result of Brexit with more hard working and cheaper eastern European workers migrating back?

Stamp duty may have also been a factor. Since the increase of 3% for second home owners was introduced the obvious result has also been a decline in investors, not only buy to let, but those looking to add value by refurbishing themselves. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have seen a property languishing on the market at a fraction of the price it was two years ago and been tempted to dip my toe in myself. However, the extra 3% stamp duty takes a huge chunk out of any benefit once you factor in the higher refurbishment costs. This is obviously not as pertinent now with the stamp duty holiday although I haven’t seen a huge uplift in investors since.

All of which are contributing factors. For Hackney and Shoreditch though I have one more theory…the demographic of buyer. Having seen the change of East London over the last 15 years it is easy for me to notice the different buyers now coming to the area. Whilst heavily bombed in the war, Hackney is still flush with lovely period property. Historically it was always the cheaper alternative to the likes of North London’s Islington or Crouch End and thus attracted the artists and creative types. Whilst Shoreditch is still a huge creative hub, many young millennial’s can only afford to rent in the area. The older artists are migrating out of London to places such as Margate and the buyers now seem to be more blue collar workers such as bankers and solicitors i.e. those with less time, effort, inclination (and dare I say creativeness) to do the works themselves.

Maybe one, two or even none of these theories are correct and it will be interesting to see how it all pans out in the future. Markets are constantly evolving and this year has been a rollercoaster thanks to Covid-19 and the stamp duty holiday. Brexit will rear it’s ugly head soon which will be another bundle of joy we can all look forward to!