7 October 2016, The Times
We look at the surprisingly prosaic features that add the most value to a house in a village or in the city
How much is your home worth? It’s not a simple question to answer. If you go on Zoopla or Rightmove, you will get one figure based on asking prices. Invite an estate agent round and they will give you another based on the deals they have in the pipeline. Pay for a surveyor, who will be looking for comparable properties that have sold, and it is likely that you’ll get a different value again.
Valuing a home is tricky. Finding out the average price per square foot for the area and multiplying that number by the size of your home might seem like a good way to get an exact answer — only the value of a home isn’t dictated by size alone. It is also affected by individuals, their motivations and the property itself: how badly does a vendor want to sell? What condition is the property in? How long has it been on the market? What makes a person desperate to buy one home and not another?
In recognition of this, Savills has surveyed its agents and asked them which features add value and which don’t. If you think that a home packed with original features in London will sell for more than one without, for example, you might be surprised to find out the facts.
Off-street parking ■ Value added in a £1.25 million London home 3-7 per cent ■ Value added in a £750,000 regional home 0-6 per cent In London, off-street parking is a big advantage. It saves you the stress of trying to reverse a Volvo into a space that is really fit only for a Mini. In a village outside the capital it is considered essential, according to Tom Orford, the director of the Ipswich branch of Savills. Without parking, the value of a home could be reduced by as much as 25 to 30 per cent, he says.
South/southwest-facing garden ■ Value added in a £1.25 million London home 1-4 per cent ■ Value added in a £750,000 regional home 2-5 per cent Although a south or southwest-facing garden is a preference, it won’t always swing a sale because the majority of gardens still get sunshine in the summer no matter what their orientation. The consensus among agents is that while a south-facing garden does improve the saleability of a home — the extra light it brings makes the home more inviting — it doesn’t particularly bump up the price. Garden size is much more likely to add a premium — anything over 60ft is especially prized.
That said, a big garden isn’t always desirable: the buying agent Nicholas Ayre reports that clients of his were recently put off buying a home in London because it had a 100ft garden and they were worried about maintaining it.
A good view ■ Value added in a £1.25 million London home up to 10 per cent ■ Value added in a £750,000 regional home 5-9 per cent Up to 10 per cent seems conservative if anything — agents often put the value of a river view at up to 20 per cent. Robin Chatwin, the head of Savills southwest London, says that for some retirees who are downsizing, a good view can make up for living in a smaller home.
In Cambridge, Ed Meyer, also from Savills, adds that “people don’t necessarily have it on their wish list, but it can be a deal-clincher”.
Low EPC rating/energy efficiency ■ Value added in a £1.25 million London home 0-2 per cent ■ Value added in a £750,000 regional home 0 per cent A report published by the Department of Energy & Climate Change in 2013 stated that nearly 93 per cent of homes sold are in EPC bands C, D and E, with 45.5 per cent in band D. This means that almost all homes have a poor EPC rating. This could explain why, despite our concerns about climate change, a low EPC rating still doesn’t seem to matter. “Have I ever had a client pull a deal because of the EPC rating? No, never. People never look at them,” says Ayre.
Historical or architectural significance ■ Value added in a £1.25 million London home 0-5 per cent ■ Value added in a £750,000 regional home 0-4 per cent “We don’t come across blue plaques very often — they are still pretty rare,” says Caspar Harvard-Walls, a partner at Black Brick. “It’s something that will assist in getting viewings but not necessarily add value unless it’s someone very famous. In terms of architectural significance, the Barbican, in the City of London, has an incredible following from people who like that brutalist architecture. The Barbican has its own market — there is nothing like it — and as a result achieves values in excess of the local market.”
An annexe (secondary accommodation) ■ Value added in a £1.25 million London home 5-10 per cent ■ Value added in a £750,000 regional home 10-25 per cent Increasingly, buyers are looking to live with two or three generations in the same house, or are looking for an investment. As a result, secondary accommodation is creeping up buyers’ wish lists. This is popular with people who work from home, people who want a granny flat and people who are looking to rent out the accommodation. “We have found that more and more buyers are looking for secondary accommodation,” says Orford. “Our last three buyers wanted this.”
Original period features ■ Value added in a £1.25 million London home 1 per cent or less ■ Value added in a £750,000 regional home 5-15 per cent The reason for the low London figure is that while original features are sought after in period property, buyers are aware that they can easily restore period features at a small cost and are no longer willing to pay a premium for them.
Not everyone shares this viewpoint. “When features are gone, sometimes these properties lack character. They become bland white boxes and it doesn’t help them to sell,” says Harvard-Walls.
Technology and gadgets ■ Value added in a £1.25 million London home 2-8 per cent ■ Value added in a £750,000 regional home 5-10 per cent Good technology and a Miele or Gaggenau appliance suggests that a homeowner has invested in a good boiler too. It reassures buyers of a level of maintenance, which explains why this is one of the features that adds significant value in and outside London.
“Lots of technology can be a bad thing if you are an investor,” says Ayre. “It will mean endless calls from your tenant saying: ‘I can’t get the blinds to go up.’ “
Planning ready ■ Value added in a £1.25 million London home up to 4 per cent ■ Value added in a £750,000 regional home 1 per cent or less “Increasingly, we are seeing buyers preparing their properties with planning in place,” says Jo-Anne Neighbour, of the Islington office of Savills. “Often they will submit a planning application, which does not cost a lot, and look to sell for an added premium.”
Outside London, particularly in more rural locations, space is usually not an issue. Planning permission for barn conversions does not usually add a premium.
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