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.

£0 value apartments!

The repercussions following the dreadful Grenfell tragedy back in 2017 will forever be with the families and friends of those that lost lives. Nearly 30 months on and you will be forgiven for thinking that any affected tower blocks have been dealt with when it comes to cladding. Those that live in modern private developments will certainly be forgiven for thinking they are not affected by such problems. However, this is far from the truth.

Sways of mortgage valuations conducted on properties that are in some cases no more than a year old are being returned by surveyors at a £0 value. This does not mean that your block is necessarily deemed as unsafe, more of a confusion as to who will foot the bill if the block does have any aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding that needs to be rectified. Don’t be fooled by thinking this is confined to visible cladding itself. We have had two £0 valuations on brick built blocks of late, one of which was a Victorian building. On that particular building there were questions over the materials used in the roof and the other was the insulation used between the two penthouses, nothing to do with the flat itself.

Now, anything over 18m in height (usually 6 storeys) will most likely be zero valued, unless there is a very comprehensive fire report to show there is no risk. As with any survey inspection, the scrutiny can vary from different surveyors and the lender associated. However, a surveyors job is to both protect you and the lender against exposure and, given the seriousness of these new legislation’s, you will be hard pushed to simply substitute one lender for another that is more lenient.

The report themselves can take some time to conduct. Just trying to speak to a fire safety expert is virtually impossible as they are so busy being pulled from pillar to post. When they finally get around to conducting the tests, samples need to be taken away before collating the results and putting the extensive document together.

So what can be done if I have been affected?

Well, firstly if you are concerned, thinking of selling or remortgaging and living in a tall tower it is worth contacting the management company and asking if they are aware of any issues and, if so, have they made the relevant steps to testing and rectifying?

Even to this day we are agreeing sales in blocks that were not affected in the past and the management companies seem oblivious to the problem. At the very least they need to get the ball rolling.

On my block in Dalston Square, Hackney all the residents had a letter informing us that if we are thinking of selling or remortgaging anytime now until the Spring to forget it. Surely this cannot be fair. What if someone is coming round to renewing their mortgage and now on a higher standard variable rate?

What if you are really desperate to sell?

I have spoken to a number of vendors looking to take action against the management companies and freeholders. In Greenwich a group of owners at New Capital Quay are pioneering this approach by bringing a case against Galliard Homes and Roamquest Ltd, a firm owned by Galliard Homes Ltd, under the Defective Premises Act (1972) which, if successful, could act as a test case. The residents are claiming for other costs including loss of income, reduction in property value, insurance premium increases and distress and inconvenience.

Petitions, social media campaigns, demonstrations and lobbying your MP are all worth doing as many of these big companies do not want the publicity.

The question of course is who pays for the bill should works need doing?

The developers will say they built to regulations and its not their fault those goalposts have been moved. The management company will not want to foot the bill and so, as usual, the shift goes to the homeowner.

At the 11 New Capital Quay blocks the NHBC is paying for remedial works but this will not be completed until 2021. Does this mean a lender will not consider exposing themselves until then?

Either way it is a total mess and one I believe the government should be taking the reigns and making funds available for. It’s not as if anything else is going on politically at the moment!

Stop blaming Brexit – The real reason for the flat London housing market

If you have had your head buried in the sand of late you may not know that the London housing market is very stagnant on the whole. According to Halifax, house prices are falling at the fastest rate in nine years. In the past I have taken such reports with a pinch of salt. They tend to focus on the worst hit locations around the UK, dramatize and apply the shock headline to everywhere. London itself has always had its own market and on the whole it has been a resilient one since I started in this game over 15 years ago. I have seen the cycles and I have been fortunate enough to experience a very buoyant, fast paced East London market. However, this time is different.

My experience as a sales director meant I got to experience a number of different locations, overseeing 6 offices in the City Fringes. Better yet, I recently tasted the online/hybrid world which, for many of its faults (and that is a whole other story altogether) allowed me to oversee the whole of East London and West Essex just as the market turned. What interested me was the fact that the suburbs were outperforming the more central locations, a complete turnaround from just a few years ago. Back in 2011 Hackney prices were nearly doubling in the space of a year or two whilst the burbs…. well burbled along. Two years ago it all changed and yes Brexit had a lot to do with that. The first hit will always be the more Central locations. The Bloombury and Clerkenwell offices I was overseeing at the time were hit hardest. Those markets are dominated by buyers that simply have no need to rush into a sale. It’s fuelled by a want and by investment rather than a need. The same goes for the sellers. They don’t need to sell and won’t drop prices to do so. As you go further out however, you then factor the need to move such as schools and growing families.

Flash forward two years and this trend has continued and magnified. Only now the number of house sales has dropped significantly, even in the suburbs. Darn Brexit are the cries as I visit prospective sellers. Only I have never heard of a couple looking to start a family not wanting to up size because of Brexit. The fact is this. There are a number of changes introduced by the government, all of which have stifled the London market. Prime central and city fringes has definitely felt the impact of the stamp duty changes for investors and the fact they can no longer offset their mortgage interest fully when paying capital gains tax. Brexit has meant a loss of confidence in the same market and nothing is worse than an uncertain one. But lets focus on the suburbs itself. Yes all of that central London negativity and lack of investors will impact the suburbs slightly but there is one major factor I think most people have overlooked….Help to buy!

If you were to Google “Help To Buy pros and cons” you will get a whole list of why you should/shouldn’t consider it (again I could write for days on that one).

House market decline

But you will be hard pushed to find what I am about to tell you. This is my theory on why the London market as a whole is so much tougher now. Most agents will tell you that the cheaper stock is selling while the big houses are sticking. That is complete rubbish in my opinion. In fact whilst working in the suburbs I had no problem finding buyers for houses from £750,000 to even £1.75m. A house I had in Snaresbrook at the latter price had more viewings (and offers) on it than some of my £350k flats. One of those offers came from a family selling their house in Wanstead through me at £950k. That property had so much interest I had to beat them away. The problem came as we went further down the chain. Selling a one bedroom two year old apartment at £350k close to Victoria Park in East London should be bread and butter stuff, especially since it had little to no growth since purchased off plan and yet I struggled to get a viewing, let alone offer. This was a common theme. So how can this be?

What props up any market?

Answer: First time buyers. So where are all these people?

Well, ask yourself this. Why would you buy a two year old apartment, generous sized ex-local authority flat or period conversion (once so popular) with a slightly older kitchen and tired bathroom when you can put 5% down on a brand new apartment and get a 20% interest free top up loan from the government?

Its not that these new builds are people’s first choice, far from it, but with that kind of incentive when deposits are so hard to come by, it’s seen as a no-brainer. So the government have succeeded in their vision to help first time buyers get on the ladder and at the same time encourage more housing development. Job done right?

Well yes and no. Historically government intervention in the housing market seems to fix one problem but create another. Or maybe this is intentional. After all, house prices are dropping making everything more affordable. Maybe this time they have it spot on. It seems no matter how much a resale property gets reduced, the lack of activity doesn’t change. When there are no buyers at the bottom of the chain, there are no buyers. Most agents are just scratching their heads…unless you are in the New Homes game. If you are lucky enough to be selling a scheme with help to buy you will know a very different story. Just recently a scheme in Hackney Wick with around 44 new apartments sold within a week. That’s where all those darn people are!

Put aside the negative impact on the rest of the market for a second, we’ve had a good run guys, let the youth of today have their moment. However, my fear is this. What happens when these new builds are no longer new and the new buyers cant take advantage of the help to buy because of it?

In two years time when you want to sell your flat and pay off that government loan but you now have no buyers either. Couple that with the fact you have probably overpaid for your spanking new apartment in the first place. You see developers have cottoned on to the fact that these help to buy flats are selling like hot cakes and just inflating the prices. What is going to happen if after Brexit this uncertainty continues, the house prices continue to tumble and you are sitting on a government loan that you will, at some point (5 years) need to pay interest on?

Just ask the people that took advantage of the scheme 5 years ago. This could all end with a bang, or more pertinently with this side bubble the government has created, a pop!