Why move when you can improve

Punitive stamp duty taxes, moving costs and stress mean that people are now adopting a ‘don’t move, improve’ attitude to property. 63 per cent of UK homeowners believe that there is more value in home improvement than in moving, 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 (44 per cent) would now rather invest in home maintenance on their existing property than buy something new (17 per cent).

Although homeowners appreciate this value, since the slowdown in the housing market only 28 per cent are investing more into their property and nearly half (49 per cent) are spending the same amount on home maintenance compared to what they spent five years ago. The most cited impediment is the lack of available funds (47 per cent); the second is a lack of trusted contractors (26 per cent).

Bill Shipton of Bold & Reeves 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.”

Some homeowners ignore the significant value of a properly maintained property; almost nine in ten potential buyers (88 per cent) believe that it is important that the property which they are looking to buy is properly maintained at the point of sale.

Alistair Nicholson, Partner at Knight Frank, the UK’s leading independent real estate consultancy, confirmed this.

He said:

“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.”

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.

Around one in three people (31 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 more significant investment of their homes.”