Figures show that the property market has got off to the slowest start in seven years. In fact, Brexit-induced uncertainty has forced many sellers in London and the South to drop their prices, contributing to a fairly weak national annual house price rise overall and a month on month fall.
Therefore, at a time of political uncertainty and stretched affordability, the big decision that many of us are being faced with is, do we ‘move or improve’?
According to research by MoneySupermarket, nearly twice as many of us currently believe that extending our property is a better financial decision than moving to a new house.
Perhaps that’s not so surprising in the current market with property prices little more than static and the cost of moving including agent fees, legal fees and stamp duty, soon adding up.
When doing the maths, it becomes feasible that for the same cost or less, homeowners can build an extension or substantially renovate their existing home.
Interestingly, most people believe that extending upwards via a loft extension will add the most value to their property and second to that was adding a larger kitchen.
Adding a new kitchen
The ever-popular open-plan kitchen and dining space has made kitchens very much the focal point of today’s homes. They are no longer just a functional place to prepare food, but the hub of the home, where the family comes together to eat, drink, work and socialise.
Therefore, investing in this space should add value to a property but simply adding square footage is not the only consideration. In fact, adding a larger kitchen doesn’t necessarily mean having to add to a property’s footprint at all – it can mean using existing space in a more effective way such as knocking through rooms or just creating a better layout.
However, to ensure the kitchen renovation or extension adds value (and not just space), the kitchen design needs to be matched to the property value – in terms of both layout and the selection of furniture within.
For higher value properties or particularly unique buildings, a classic, well-designed, bespoke handmade kitchen with energy efficient appliances is most certainly a good investment. Not only will it be enjoyed by the current owner but should they wish to sell at some point in the future, a quality kitchen will also appeal to potential buyers as it won’t date, and will still function as well as the day it was installed.
How much to spend on a new kitchen
In previous decades, some manufacturers suggested that a reasonable kitchen renovation should cost around ten per cent of the overall property value. With property having sky-rocketed since then, this is no longer the case.
There is no specific way to calculate how much to spend on a kitchen renovation but with most people considering it to be the most important and most hard working room in the house, homeowners would do well to invest in the highest quality workmanship they can afford in all the key areas such as cabinetry, flooring, appliances and lighting.
Creating an investment
Even in a stronger property market, the move or improve conundrum is complex and a dilemma most of us have experienced at one point or another. The reality is that even if a move isn’t on the cards immediately, it makes very little sense to spend money on a property unless the homeowner can recoup it at a later date by way of a higher house price or in creating a fall-in-love-with factor, that leads to a quick sell.
Increasingly, estate agents are cottoning on to the fact that homeowners are making high-ticket improvements to their properties as these can be a useful marketing tool. We’re all familiar with the ‘this is not just…’ M&S’s food adverts, and estate agents are doing the same for our homes.
They’ve noted the brand of kitchen appliances for a while now but where they can, they’ll use other references, such as the kitchen designer or manufacturer within a property’s particulars, as a way to convey quality and entice buyers to view. Being able to confidently use terms such as ‘handmade’, ‘hand painted’, ‘bespoke’ and ‘luxury’ all add a sense of uniqueness to a kitchen – which is often much-sought after at the top end of the property market.
Of course, deciding whether to move or improve is not just a numbers game. Changes in lifestyle, jobs, schools or just a preference for a different location or style of property all become part of the equation. If you’re one of the majority who believes that staying put is a more sensible solution for now, then it’s crucial to ensure that any property renovation decisions you make are sound investments. By thinking long term, investing in classic design and quality materials, homeowners can ensure that should they eventually wish to sell their property, their money will have been well spent.