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Phil Spencer

18th September 2018
Phil Spencer's top 20 ways to add value to your home - and get it noticed on the market

 Phil Spencer's top 20 ways to add value to your home - and get it noticed on the market 

By Sophie Christie

 

 


For nearly two decades, Phil Spencer has put his property buying skills to the test as a presenter on Location, Location, Location (Credit: Fiona Murray)



Recent figures from mortgage lender Nationwide reflect the continued slowdown in Britain's property market, with house price growth at a six-year low in August. 


The subdued state of the market has been blamed on record low stock numbers, stretched household budgets, and uncertainty triggered by the Brexit vote.  Despite the downbeat growth figures, the number of first-time buyers in Britain is at a 12-year high of 175,500.

This is the third consecutive year that first-time buyer numbers have topped 150,000 in Britain, more than double the record low of 72,700 in the first half of 2009 following the financial crisis.
So now might not be the worst time to sell after all. If you’re thinking of selling your home this month, when the market traditionally returns to life, what can you do to set your house apart from all the others – and get it sold?

If anyone should have an idea, it's property guru Phil Spencer. For almost 20 years he has been on our TV screens fronting Channel 4's Location Location Location, its spin-off Relocation, Relocation and Phil Spencer: Secret Agent, in which the 48-year-old meets property owners who are struggling to sell and advises them on where they're going wrong.

Spencer, who has also launched a home movers' platform, Move iQ, to help buyers navigate the property market, said: "Whether you’re thinking of selling in the near future or just want to add value to your home as an investment, you’ll need to work at it to help your property achieve its full potential.

"Depending on your budget, there are some tried and tested improvements you can make to help your home stand out, appeal to a wider pool of potential buyers – and encourage them to pay more for it."

So how can sellers add value to their homes to maximise the chances of it getting snapped up? Below, Spencer gives his top tips.

1. Go for a loft conversion

Adding an extra bedroom and bathroom is one of the most effective ways to boost your property’s value, and the easiest way to achieve this is often a loft conversion. While in principle this is a cheaper and more practical option than converting a basement, transforming your clutter-filled loft into a living space can produce a few headaches. The key is to ensure access to the loft is easy and that the conversion fits the rest of the house, rather than looking bolted on. Floor joists will also need strengthening, meaning the floor level will be raised, so make sure you leave enough ceiling height to stand up in.

Done right, spending £20,000 on a loft conversion could add £40,000 to the value of your home.


2. Build a conservatory

While an extra bedroom is desirable, especially one with an ensuite, remember that living space is worth more per square foot than bedroom space. The danger here, however, is that conservatories can make or break your home’s aesthetic. Simply bolting an extension onto the back of your home will result in your property looking modular and ugly.

Avoid an eyesore by making it seem that the house was originally designed with the conservatory in mind. As a minimum, make sure the conservatory has the same flooring as that in the downstairs living area.

A well-built conservatory can add at least 5pc to the value of your property, while a full-blown extension can add 10pc.

3. Install a basement conversion

Basement conversions are often viewed as the preserve of the super-rich, and for good reason. They are the most expensive of conversions, costing around £200 per sq ft to carry out the digging and a further £100 per sq ft to do the fitting out.

So if your house is worth less than £300 or more per sq ft (the UK average is £211), the numbers are unlikely to stack up, and you won’t see your money back.

Don’t underestimate the scale of such a project either. Specialists will need to carry out the design and installation work – a basement conversion will alter the structural load of the property – and you will almost certainly have to move out for several months while work is carried out.


4. Get rid of the garage

Can you remember the last time you actually used your garage to park your car? No? Well, you’re certainly not alone.

If yours is simply gathering clutter, tap into that potential and stop wasting that asset. A conversion will set you back around £10,000 but, after calculating how much value you’ll accrue (by multiplying the footage gained by local price per sq foot), you might be surprised. To maximise your value gain, make sure the new room is properly linked to the main body of your house.

5. Take aim at your target

By establishing who your most likely type of buyer is, you can decide on how best to present a spare room. Is it an office? A play room? A gym? The sales pitch is in your hands, so showcase accordingly.

6. Pave over the front garden

If you’re in an urban area where parking is at a premium, you can add some serious value by maximising every inch of exterior space. As well as paving over, you will need to drop the kerb and are likely to need planning permission. The cost of such a project can range between £10,000 and £20,000, but in an prime city area you could add £50,000 to your property’s value.

7. Paint the house

It’s amazing what a lick of paint can do – both to kerb appeal and by making your home stand out on an estate agent’s website. Keeping the outside of your home spick and span is key to this.

The cost is relatively low, usually between £100 and £1,000, but it could add a very agreeable £5,000 to the property’s value. At the very least, you’ll become the envy of your neighbours by making your house look better than theirs.

8. Change the windows

I am a firm believer in only making alterations that match the age and style of the original property. So only install a different type of window if the current ones don’t suit the house.
If they need replacing and the building was designed to have wooden windows, then replace them with wooden windows. If metal, then go for metal and so on.

9. Refurbish the front door

A very cheap yet surprisingly effective refurbishment. You can smarten up your front door by buying a new doorknob (around £35), a brass letterbox (£25) or a stainless steel house number (£5-25).

10. Hang mirrors in the hall

Bear in mind that a cramped, cluttered corridor is often the first thing potential buyers see when they come to view a home. As if by magic, hanging mirrors can visually enlarge a corridor.

11. Concentrate on the kitchen

Today, the kitchen is the most important room of the house – and often the one we sink most of our money in to.

We no longer just prepare food in the kitchen, our kids do their homework in it, we watch television in it, and we catch up with friends over coffee and host dinner parties there.

Above all, a kitchen needs an attractive and efficient work surface, excellent storage and seamless access between the three points of the kitchen trinity; the sink, fridge and cooker. If you’re struggling for inspiration, many high street firms are surprisingly good at whipping up designs.

Do ensure the price bracket of your kitchen matches that of your house – there is little point installing a £25,000 kitchen in a £250,000 house; you won’t get your money back. The same goes with installing a £10,000 kitchen in a £1m house; you will bring the value down. Get the recipe right and a new kitchen will add around 4.6pc to the value of your home.

12. Knock down the walls

Much of the UK’s housing stock was designed with the preferences of our Edwardian and Victorian ancestors in mind. Today we live and entertain in very different ways, and buyers lean towards properties that maximise usable space rather than the number of rooms.

13. Do the bathroom next

The secret to an attractive bathroom is keeping things simple. A huge amount of work may not required on the room itself, so focus instead on the fittings that adorn it.

Things like a new set of taps (around £20), a power shower (£250-750), a glass screen (£100) or a glass door (£125) can go a long way. A new bathroom can add around 3pc to the value of a house.

14. Don’t bother with the bedrooms

As with bathrooms, bedrooms often don’t need a great deal of work. Spruce up what space you have with a few soft furnishings (and maybe a new set of curtains).

15. Put in central heating

That is, if you don’t already have it. This will set you back between £1,000 and £3,000 but will boost your home’s value by £5,000.

16. Look above your head

Again, every inch of space counts and can make or break a sale. Build space where possible; one of the quickest and easiest home hacks is to increase space by using ceiling voids.

17. Bring the garden into the house

Or bring the outdoors indoors: bi-fold doors are more affordable than ever and have risen in quality in recent years.

Installing outdoor lighting is always a plus, as is interesting planting. You can also break your garden up into different areas. Would decking or a patio work better in one specific spot? Whatever you choose, think carefully about the aesthetics before committing.

18. Apply for planning permission

If your budget won’t stretch to the full cost of an extension or conversion, you can still secure the planning permission to do so.

For a would-be buyer whose heart is set on adapting or converting the property, the prospect of being spared council red tape is a huge selling point. While you might spend £1,000 to £2,000 on a survey, design and planning processing, doing so could push your property’s value into a higher league.

19. Phone a friend

Having building work done is time-consuming, disruptive and expensive – and can often strain the client-builder relationship.

So people who emerge from the process still singing the praises of their builder are people you should talk to. Whether friends, family or colleagues, track them down and ask for their builder’s number. If you don’t know anyone who can recommend a builder, try the next best thing online, with websites such as RatedPeople.com.

20. Take a view on timescale

Consider this as a general rule of thumb; the bigger the builder, the faster the job will be done, but the higher the price.

Hire a small builder with lower fixed costs and it might take longer, but could also cost you less. Use this rule to prioritise your time – and money – accordingly.

 






© Telegraph Media Group Limited 2018

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