Bold & Reeves feature in London Loves Business
Why move when you can improve?
By Sarah Dunsby
New research reveals that more home owners in London are seeing the value of staying put rather than moving, as costs continue to rise
Punitive stamp duty taxes, moving costs and stress mean that homeowners in London are now adopting a ‘don’t move, improve’ attitude to property. 65 per cent believe that there is more value in home improvement than in moving home, revealed in a YouGov study for property maintenance experts Bold & Reeves.
Rising house prices have driven a spike in charges which has in turn pushed up estate agency, stamp duty and conveyancing fees. So, if you like your home, your area and your neighbours, staying put and improving or extending could prove a cost-effective alternative to changing properties.
More than twice as many people in the capital (40 per cent) would now rather invest in home maintenance on their existing property than buy something new (15 per cent).
Although homeowners appreciate this value, since the slowdown in the housing market only a quarter (27 per cent) are investing more into their property and more than half (58 per cent) are spending the same amount or less on property maintenance than they were 5 years ago.
More than anywhere else in the UK, Londoners are concerned with a lack of trusted contractors, 37 per cent are put off home maintenance as a result. The most cited reason is a lack of available funds (49 per cent).
Bill Shipton, Managing Director of Bold & Reeves in Mayfair, said: “Although almost one in four people (23 per cent) consider maintaining and servicing a property regularly to be the best way to increase the value of a property, not enough people are taking advantage of this cost-effective opportunity.”
When looking to buy, 92 per cent of London homeowners believe that it is important that a property is well maintained at the point of sale.
Alistair Nicholson, Partner at Knight Frank, the UK’s leading independent real estate consultancy, confirmed this. “Regular maintenance in the high-end property market tends to be a necessity for owners with little time. In our experience, a property that is well serviced and maintained will give buyers more confidence in the product, make the property more presentable, and ultimately easier to sell,” he said.
The problem is confirmed by the latest figures from the ONS monthly business survey, which shows that repair and maintenance provides the largest downwards pressure to construction output in the UK, decreasing by 2.1 per cent since December 2015.
Further ONS research on Family Spending highlights that alterations and improvements to the dwelling account for 14 per cent of total housing costs. However, maintenance and repair costs have decreased year on year and take up a much lower share of spending at only 5 per cent, an average of £7.60 per week.
Almost 60 per cent (57 per cent) of homeowners in London believe that servicing items which could breakdown is the most important aspect of home maintenance. Nevertheless, one in three people (29 per cent) wait a week or more before they fix something, highlighting the apathetic approach that some people have to repair and maintenance.
Mr Shipton added: “Some households are still not investing enough in the upkeep of their home, posing a potential risk to their personal investment and even the wider housing stock. People continue to service their cars regularly, whilst neglecting the larger investment of their homes.”