For those of us lucky enough to own property, it can be easy to forget that the building you call home is also your largest financial asset.
As long as you are simply living in your property without thought of moving on, its value won’t be your highest concern. But when it comes to selling up, you will be pleased that you put some thought into achieving the best possible value early.
As surveyors, we’re often asked to consider what could make a given property more valuable and the answer can usually be broken down into two, key sections – space and saleability.
A residential valuation by an independent professional (usually a Chartered Surveyor registered to the RICS valuation scheme) is typically calculated using the comparable method, with the assistance of an adjustment matrix.
The valuer may assess similar properties in the area, break their value down to a metre squared basis and then adjust these figures to make allowances for their differences to the subject property – like age, construction quality and parking. They can then take a view as to which value most accurately reflects the subject property, and multiply that value by the floor area to reach a final valuation.
That means that the most effective way to increase the value of your property, can be to add space. If you increase the usable floor area, you add value to the surveyor’s calculation.
This is easier said than done, of course!
Viable options can be to add a conservatory, build an extension, add a room above a garage or convert a loftspace into a room in the roofspace.
With any significant change to your property, however, do not forget the planning element. Some changes will come under ‘permitted development’, but these rights have stringent restrictions – potentially complicated by conservation area or listed building regulations – and proceeding without being absolutely sure of the rules can end in disaster.
We recommend that you speak with your local council’s planning office before starting on a given plan.
Interestingly, saleability is not considered technically to be part of the valuation equation. Referring back to that note of a surveyor’s valuation process, saleability does not strictly factor into either side of the core sum.
That being said, the real benefit of increasing the attractiveness of your property lies in generating interest when it comes to sale time.
If your property is coveted by one family, then that potential buyer is in a strong position. But if your property is sufficiently attractive to warrant attention from several buyers, then the position of strength lies with the seller. An attractive property is, in this way, more likely to achieve or exceed its asking price.
The key to achieving that scenario is therefore to attract buyers away from similar properties, which requires differentiating factors.
Attractive and unusual features like a waterfall shower, modern fitted kitchen and Jacuzzi bath can achieve this, making them potentially useful investments.
In general terms, keep saleability in mind when you replace elements in your home. If you know you’re not going to remain in the property indefinitely, then keep your future purchaser in mind. Would they like your favourite edgy, metallic kitchen fittings or would they prefer something more traditional? Would they prefer your lurid green and yellow tiles, or would they prefer something more neutral?
This concept can also be considered in the context of changing property markets. At the time of writing the property market is recovering, but a change in this can come at any time. When it does, properties with features attractive enough to entice a small pool of potential buyers will stand the best chance of achieving a sale within a reasonable timeframe and at a reasonable price.