Monday, August 8, 2022

8 ways to upgrade your home, from improving energy efficiency to enhancing outdoor spaces

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For sellers looking to add some value to their home, there are many options to suit different budgets

But there’s a lot more you can do to get the highest possible price for a property.

There is no shortage of advice on selling a home. Conventional wisdom tells us to repaint the walls, list the property in spring and bake copious amounts of bread to charm onlookers.

For now, sellers still have the upper hand in the housing market as demand continues to outstrip supply.

Prices have risen every month this year, with the average home value up 6.8 per cent, or £18,849 in cash, since the start of 2022, according to the latest data from Halifax.

However, this also means movers expect higher prices for their new property and may want to get as much value out of the old one as possible.

Another reason sellers want to invest in real estate is that house price growth isn’t guaranteed to last forever. Russell Galley, chief executive of Halifax, said earlier this month that the cost of living crisis will ultimately weigh on house prices as consumer spending power erodes.

“Although it could come later than previously expected, a slowdown in house price growth should still be expected in the coming months,” he said.

For sellers looking to add some value to their home, there are many options to suit different budgets.

For those who have experienced the most severe lockdowns with little or no outside space, gardens and even balconies have taken on prominence.

James Hyman, head of residential at property consultants Cluttons, said: “The pandemic has brought even more importance to the outdoors. So if you have a garden or roof terrace, get a gardener/landscaper and make it a real feature.

“A well-landscaped garden, cleverly designed to feel like an extension of your home, can add 10 per cent to the price of property in London, and more in some areas.”

If you fancy sticking in the flower beds yourself, Morris Hankinson, director of Hopes Grove Nurseries, recommends using plants that will look good when your onlookers come to visit.

“While many of our favorite ‘English’ garden plants such as roses, lavender and peonies are undeniably beautiful, if you see a garden full of plants in October or January they will look rather dull to say the least.

“The key to curbing desirability is using evergreens that are tried and tested. They never look as spectacular as this lavender bordered bed of roses for a few weeks in June, but they never look ‘offended’ either, they are brilliant all-rounders.”

His top picks include the choisya, or Mexican orange blossom, which has glossy, evergreen foliage, and the winter-blooming viburnum tinus.

Owners of older properties may find it difficult to make certain improvements, especially if the building is a listed building. But Charlie Avara, managing director of All Done Design, says the best approach is to work with the historical aspects of a home.

“Lifting up all the wooden floorboards in a bathroom and laying a plywood base for underfloor heating and nice tiles on top is what you would do in any other house, but you can’t do that in a listed building. So let’s use what we have: Exposed wooden floorboards can be really beautiful. It’s about using something you can’t change.”

They might even add contemporary furniture like a freestanding bathtub to appeal to buyers looking for a one-of-a-kind historic property, she says.

It can also be worth exposing elements like fireplaces and moldings that were obscured in previous renovations.

“If something looks new, it means it hides something old,” says Ms. Avara. “Sometimes the thing behind it is in such bad shape that it might not be profitable to renovate or restore it. But if the property was renovated in the 1960s and 1970s when the style was for flat walls and they covered up all the beautiful cornices, it’s worth restoring.”

Changing work habits has made the ability to work from home an important factor for buyers, leading many real estate professionals to recommend setting up a desk somewhere in your home to demonstrate the possibility of working from home.

“Home hunters are constantly looking for a space to work effectively from home,” said Simon Bath, chief executive officer of iPlace Global, which is behind moving app Moveable.

“Even if your home doesn’t have its own home office, you can still position a corner of your living room — or bedroom — as the ideal work-from-home environment, adding about 8-10 percent to your property’s value.”

An obvious way to increase stats is to create a new room. Before attempting to expand the property, most experts advise looking into converting existing space.

Bruce King, director of property consultant and estate agent Cheffins in Saffron Walden, says the cost of a typical loft conversion can now range from £25,000 to £70,000, but a good conversion can certainly generate a return.

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