We are all delighted that the property market is back up and running, albeit we are all still operating in very unusual market conditions. Having spent so many weeks in our homes we are sure that many people are thinking about making changes to their home environments, now or in the near future. There is a great deal in the press about an increase in people working from home and city dwellers looking to move out of the city for more living space, both indoors and out. Others are looking to retain a city dwelling but improve their environment by moving to somewhere which offers them a home office and/or an outdoor space.
Below we pose some questions to Joel Baseley at Rampton Baseley, a leading estate agent in South West London, with expert property knowledge.
Have you seen a surge in people looking to make a move as a direct result of Covid 19?
Yes! There has been a huge surge in registrations. It seems that there’s nothing like being locked in your home for 2 months to make you realise your home’s inadequacies! We have people looking to move from one bed flats to 2 bed flats to allow them to work from home, right up to families looking to move from a terraced home to something which is fully detached.
Which works do you think homeowners could easily undertake that would add value at resale? Do you agree that these works are worth considering and undertaking with a view to resale?
- Undertaking minor cosmetic repairs
- Improving the entrance/facade of your home
- Decluttering and providing intelligent storage solutions
- Improving any outdoor living spaces
Yes, absolutely, minor cosmetic repairs should be undertaken. Vendors should aim to present a clean and tidy looking property. First impressions of a property are important and a tidy, smart façade and entrance, with nice planting, is worthwhile spending time and money on. Potential buyers really value quality storage solutions such as wardrobes, under stairs storage etc – good joinery is the mark of a quality property. Outdoor space is increasingly important to buyers, lockdown has heightened people’s awareness of outdoor spaces. Plants are very important to London living but vendors need to make sure they get the balance right, as too much planting can be dominating and overkill!
Clients often communicate to us a desire to make their home ‘feel’ a certain way. Is it a myth that home buyers walk into a house and get ‘a feeling’ or know it’s ‘the one’? Do you think there is a recipe for fulfilling this? Or, are there just certain rooms which buyers prioritise and so if you redo your kitchen or bathroom, for example, you radically improve your chances of resale?
The most important thing is that the house is not incongruous. There is no point in having an amazing kitchen and tired bathrooms. Vendors should aim for the same quality of finish all the way through their property. Sometimes, we recommend that they do nothing if the house is too far gone. The most important space is always the kitchen as this is the space which modern families use the most and where they spend most of their time.
Clients tend to approach us when they are considering larger scale works, anything from adding a loft pod, to an entire house renovation which might include an extension at every floor level. During lockdown we have been helping our clients develop designs and prepare planning applications and tender packs for new works. Do you think that homeowners can add value to their sale by already having planning approvals in place for potential new buyers to develop upon purchase?
Most buyers assume that they can do standard works such as loft conversions, basement works etc. Having planning permission to do works is never going to be harmful but it should be considered on a case by case basis. It is certainly worth going through the motions for a more tricky building, such as a house in a conservation area for example or where development opportunities are not immediately obvious.
Certain types of works can be undertaken via permitted development (without the need for full planning permission), such as rear extensions, lofts and the addition of a garden room/garden office. Do you think that garden rooms are attractive to potential buyers? Can garden rooms be incorporated into the sq footage of sale particulars?
No, garden rooms and outbuildings can never be incorporated into square footage plans. We would certainly give them consideration in the overall value of a property though. Garden rooms can offer life changing extra space to buyers but, they need to be finished to a high quality to represent any real extra value.
We are expecting that we will be entertaining more at home in the coming year. Is a new kitchen and an entertaining space the most valuable addition to a home or are home owners better off developing their lofts to add more bedrooms?
If people are looking to add extra value to their homes then the best and most reliable way is to add square footage to the property. Unconverted loft space is generally the most profitable route. Whereas with basement conversions the cost to add the value generally doesn’t match the profit.
Are there any emerging trends which you are noticing through requests from buyers (E.g. home office, open plan, broken plan, outdoor space), or indeed things that are becoming less important, distance from transport, parking facilities etc?
It’s too early to say if there are any real trends in these areas, what we have seen is a 35% increase in people looking to move to the Home Counties.
We have been reading press articles relating to second home owners and suggestions that some may be looking to flip their second homes outside of London, to be their main residence, and purchase a smaller bolt hole in the City. Do you see any evidence of this to date?
Not so much with second home ownership but we have seen evidence of those people who intended to make a move out of London, at some point in the future, advancing those decisions. These are people who always intended to move to the country and these are not new decisions but lockdown has focused their minds and they have decided to act now, rather than waiting.
Rampton Baseley’s three offices are now open and they are carrying out physical viewings, valuations and appointments, whilst following Government guidelines. Their expert team can be contacted on www.ramptonbaseley.com.
Run Projects remains fully operational and our expert team is available to discuss any potential projects, whether you are just starting your search for a property or have already purchased www.runprojects.co.uk.