What adds value to your house? Not what you might be thinking…

Guest Post

Not all home improvement projects add value. Some can make your property more saleable (quicker and easier to sell), but they won’t necessarily increase its sale price.

Put simply, the amount you spend on a project won’t necessarily add the same amount to its value. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you think about improving your home.

Don’t overdevelop

The main thing you need to bear in mind when trying to add value is to avoid overdeveloping. All properties have a ceiling price – your property can’t command an asking price that’s significantly more than the other properties on your street.


Potential buyers with a £500,000 budget are unlikely want to live on a street where all the other houses are worth £250,000.

If you have a small two bedroom house, excavating a mega-basement will make the property bottom heavy, so remember that any additions should remain in proportion to the original structure. Look at the other houses on your street to understand what projects your neighbours have been granted planning permission to carry out. You’ll then realise what’s likely to be possible with your property.

In many cases it’s more cost effective to turn a two bedroom house into a three bedroom house than it is to invest in a new property with an additional bedroom.

There are two options if you want to create more rooms – the cheapest is to reconfigure the floor plan, or you can opt to add more living space with an extension or conversion.


Reconfiguring the upstairs floor plan is a cost effective way of creating more bedrooms. A builder will be able to re-design the floor plan to make the most of the space available. You can hire a builder via Rated People to install a partition stud for around £800. Providing the rooms created are of adequate size, and the space in the original ones hasn’t been overly compromised, a well thought through reconfiguration can add value to your property – a three bedroom property is likely to be valued £30,000 higher than a similar two bedroom property.

Loft conversions


Converting loft space is also a relatively cheap way to increase the number of bedrooms, as well as the living space in your home. In many cases a loft conversion is considered permitted development so you won’t require planning permission.

However, listed properties or those in conservation areas will require permission and local interpretation of the regulations can vary, so it’s worth clarifying with your local planning authority before you commence work.

You’ll need a minimum ceiling height of 2.3 meters to make a loft conversion viable, typically the steeper the pitch of the roof the better suited it is to converting. Loft spaces are best used for extra bedrooms, if you choose to install bathrooms the cost will be pushed up.

You should consult a builder about the configuration, especially if you plan to include bathrooms as locating these close to existing plumbing will reduce the cost of the project. A basic loft conversion with Velux windows will cost from £10,000, up to around £30,000 for a more complex project with Dorma windows.

Single-storey extensions

Any project that adds square footage is likely to add value and recently the trend for open-plan living has increased the popularity of single-storey kitchen extensions. Kitchens sell houses so this is a good area to spend money and add value. A basic single-storey extension will cost around £10,000, in most cases this type of home improvement falls under permitted development so planning permission isn’t required.

Double-storey extensions

If you also want to increase the number of bedrooms you can opt for a double storey extension.

Prices start from £20,000, which considering the increase in value between a two bedroom and three bedroom house, will make it £10,000 cheaper to build an extra room than to buy a property with an additional bedroom, and that’s before you add on the costs of moving.

While reconfigurations may solve the financial problem and hassle of moving up the ladder to increase the amount of bedrooms, if room size is compromised this type of project can’t guarantee increasing the sale price. On the other hand, adding living space with a well thought out conversion or extension nearly always adds value to a property.

To get an expert’s opinion visit RatedPeople.com and find a quality tradesman in your local area who can help you with your ideas for reconfigurations.

March 12, 2014 at 11:47 AM Leave a comment

You’re not alone in considering a buy to let. Some top tips revealed.

Low interest rates plus a captive clientele of twenty and thirtysomethings who are priced off the property ladder have brought investing in rental property firmly back into vogue.


The latest figures for the Council of Mortgage Lenders show more than 130,000 buy-to-let mortgages were granted in 2013, up 50 per cent since 2010.

And there are certainly sound financial reasons to consider buy to let. Not only are banks competing to offer low cost mortgages to would be landlords – there is a good choice of lenders currently offering rates of between 2 and 2.5 per cent APR – but the potential income from a rental property is significantly higher than what savings are currently earning on the high street.

According to the Association of Residential Letting Agents, rental yields for buy to lets stand at 5.11 per cent, and that doesn’t include potential long term benefits of capital growth.

Deciding whether buy to let is right for you involves complex variables, however. Nobody can truly predict how fast rents are going to rise, and how much a rental property will be worth a few years’ down the line.

Landlords must always factor in void periods when their property is empty, the cost of maintenance and management, and since it is widely believed interest rates will rise by the end of next year, all the maths you do today will need to be redone.

Despite all that the lure of investing in bricks and mortar is strong. Given the UK’s recent economic travails it is easier to trust a tangible asset than banks or the stock market.

If you are planning to buy to let then the first challenge is to buy the right property – one which will appeal to tenants and which is an area where you can hope to get some long term price growth.

James Wyatt, a partner Barton Wyatt estate agents in Virginia Water, Surrey, says a first time investor should play it safe. “Stick to major conurbations, stick to small houses or apartments, new if possible,” he said, since this kind of property is easy to manage, demand from young professional workers will be strong and returns steady.

Other markets to explore are university cities where demand for rented homes will also be high.

However, Wyatt cautions that investors targeting the student market need to be prepared for tenants who can be, well, a little “heavy handed” with their rented digs.

Vivienne Harris, of Heathgate estate agents in Hampstead, says buying a property with proximity to good local services is crucial.

“We are finding that it’s all about proximity to transport,” she said. ”Currently the smaller properties are letting more easily so studio flats and one and two bedrooms seem to create massive interest.”

While nobody suggests spending a fortune dressing a rental flat (unless you are aiming at top end central London or the corporate market) Harris says that first impressions do count. It is wise to either buy a well maintained BTL property or budget for doing it up.

“If a property looks clean, bright and well modernised then it is far more likely to rent quickly and at a better price,” she said. “Anything that looks a little tired or dowdy will usually be left open to negotiation and probably take longer to let.”

In Manchester, Alex Dato, a director of Goodwin Fish & Co, said that while some landlords are attracted to modern, low maintenance flats these properties could come with a catch. “Sometimes the service charges are astronomical and that can really eat into your profits,” he warned. “Some landlords will only buy houses because there’s no ground rent or charges.”

His tip for buying a property with good chances of capital growth is, like Harris, to buy near good public transport links and to do your research and make sure you get the best deal possible.

In Manchester he says the Southern Quarter, the area between Deansgate Station and Manchester University, could be a good bet. Demand from students is high and the pubs, bars and restaurants springing up in the area are making it a viable alternative to the city centre for young professionals too.

Some great buy-to-let options:

University towns are a great choice for landlords, and this three bedroom house in Durham is in an area popular with students:

07.03.14 renting 1

Kennington is one of the best value areas of central London with great potential for capital growth:

07.03.14 renting 2

Modern properties will need less maintenance than period properties and this one is within Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, an area that has enjoyed masses of regeneration investment in the last few years and one loved by young professionals:

07.03.14 renting 3

March 12, 2014 at 8:00 AM 1 comment

Kim Kardashian uses ‘fake’ home in “Keeping up With The Kardashians”

Peter Andre, Kerry Katona and Katie Price have all used theirs. But Kim Kardashian and her family have not. This week, the latest couple in the Kardashian clan was accused of not using their real home in the high ratings reality television show.

Kim Kardashian

Having already been accused of failing to use the real exterior of her own home, the star’s sister Kourtney and her partner Scott are the latest couple in the family to have allegedly used a fake house.

Kourtney and Scott’s Calabasas home is reportedly completely different to the home they recently sold.

Kim is understood to have defended her decision, saying the fake exterior was used for ‘security reasons’.

Using a home in a reality series can certainly prove big business, with the Kardashians said to earn a total of $10m per season of their Keeping Up With the Kardashians show.

Closer to home, using a property in filming has proved a popular formula for reality stars Peter Andre, Kerry Katona and Katie Price.

Properties for sale in Calabasas, Los Angeles:

Five bedroom property in Palmilla Drive for £1,199,062 ($1,995,000)

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Four bedroom property in the Santa Monica mountains for £1,607,765 ($2,675,000)

11.03.14 Kardashian 1Six bedroom home for sale in sought-after community of Westridge for £1,051,208 ($1,749,000)

11.03.14 Kardashian 3

March 11, 2014 at 11:12 AM Leave a comment

Tips for selling your home: Fifty shades of clean

When you’re selling your house, it’s a good idea to make sure that everything is clean. But exactly how clean, asks home staging expert Anna Hart.

10.03.14 Anna Hart 1  10.03.14 Anna Hart 2

Think about the homes of friends and family that you visit. Do you recognise any of these characters?

• Super-Clean-Queen: Makes you take your shoes off at the door, whips a coaster under your glass like a ninja and has a duster practically glued to her hand

• Lazy Student: Most things wait around six times longer than in other houses to be cleaned, if at all – think bed linen, floors and bathrooms.

• Busy-Busy Person: what you can see is clean, but you get the distinct feeling that what you can’t see definitely isn’t

• Pet Lover: they just don’t notice the hair everywhere, the stinky food bowls, the ghastly litter trays, the smells, the damage and the ‘presents’ on the lawn

• New Parent: all the baby’s paraphernalia is sterilised to within an inch of its life, but things above knee-level may be a bit suspect

Just like we all have different tastes in houses, in clothes and in music, we also have very different ideas as to what ‘clean’ really means. There really are at least 50 Shades of Clean.

Usually that’s ok (unless you’re making your guests ill of course) but when you’re selling your house you just don’t know which of the characters above will be viewing your house next. They might not be bothered by the dust on the mantelpiece, or they might be mortally offended by it – you just don’t know.

10.03.14 Anna Hart 6 10.03.14 Anna Hart 7

So the only way to make sure that the state of your house doesn’t put any buyers off is to shoot for the top: you’ve got to be a Super-Clean-Queen – Or King.

It’s best to have a massive deep clean once you’ve finished your de-cluttering, and then make sure you keep on top of it with regular sessions throughout the marketing period.

Do get some help – from family, friends or hire a cleaner. Just make sure they all know the Queen herself is coming round.

10.03.14 Anna Hart 3  10.03.14 Anna Hart 4

Five things that must be super-clean:

1. Kitchens – along with bathrooms, these are the most important rooms to clean and you should expect to spend at least twice the amount of time cleaning these rooms than any others. Stainless steel, chrome and taps must sparkle, surfaces must gleam, hobs & ovens must show no signs of the food they have prepared.

2. Bathrooms – up there with kitchens, all bathrooms must be squeaky-clean. Get rid of mould, mildew, limescale, hair, dust and soap scum. Bleach, scrub and polish until everything sparkles.

3. Front door – get rid of all dirt, grime, leaves and cobwebs, then polish up any brass or chrome door furniture. Beat the dust out of the doormats and sweep the paths.

4. Windows – it’s important to let maximum light into rooms and allow unobscured views, so sparkly, smear-free windows are a must. Clean marks off the frames too.

5. Floors – hard floors need to be buffed to a shine and carpets will always look (and smell) better if they’ve been professionally cleaned.

A super-clean house will give you the best chance of impressing buyers, so put some loud music on and get scrubbing.

This house in Sheffield lacks furniture, but just look at the shine on those floors and the reflections in the bathroom.

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03.01.13 Anna photoAnna Hart is an expert in staging homes for sale, working with house sellers to maximise their chances of selling as quickly and as profitably as possible. Anna’s e-book “How To Sell Your House For Top Price, Fast” brings her practical and proven house sale preparation strategy to sellers across Britain.

Special book offer available for Zoopla blog readers – click here.

March 11, 2014 at 8:00 AM 1 comment

Entire property portfolio for sale totalling 20 properties

Almost 100 rooms in a dozen streets outside of Manchester have been put up sale at the same time.

10.03.14 BTL 3

An investor is selling the entire property portfolio ahead of his retirement from the bricks and mortar industry.

A total of 20 properties are available as part of the portolio, which is being offered for sale for £3,800,000.

10.03.14 BTL 1The estate agent handling the sale, Flax & Co, explains there is a total of 80 letting rooms.

However, this can be extended to 87 if smaller rooms are made use of and rented out to tenants.

The 12 roads where the properties are located are in the Fallowfield and Withington areas.

They include Albion Road, Carill Drive, Cawdor Road, Delacourt Road, Filey Road, Furness Road, Heyscroft Road, Landcross Road, Mabfield Road, Moseley Road, School Grove and Whitby Road.

Similar properties for sale: 

1. Twenty bedrooms in Winterbourne for £1m

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2. Twenty bedroom terrace in South Kensington for £7,950,000

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3. Twenty-seven bedrooms in Tiverton for £1.2m

10.03.14 BTL 6

March 10, 2014 at 5:24 PM Leave a comment

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