Open-plan living areas, neutral decor and hot tubs were once features prized by homebuyers. They could boost selling prices by thousands of pounds.
But buyers’ tastes have changed dramatically as a result of the pandemic and rising living costs. Features such as these that were once sought after can now be a turn off.
Last week, we revealed that conservatories can now drag down the value of your property by as much as £15,000 when you come to sell, despite once being considered a luxurious extension to your home.
But this is not the only feature that has fallen out of favour, while other elements are right on trend.
Here, we reveal the latest on property makeover maths — the home renovations that you will make a profit on when you come to sell — and those that could cost you dearly.
Following the pandemic and lockdowns, having an office in the garden can add up to £22,000 to the price of an average house
From open-plan to broken-plan… and a ‘shoffice’
For years, open-plan rooms that combine a kitchen, dining and even a living room were highly prized. But during lockdown, many families found that these rooms were noisy and lacked privacy.
Lockdowns may have ended — but new habits have formed.
Today, the ‘broken-plan’ layout is the new ideal. This can be achieved by reintroducing walls that were previously removed, or using furniture and furnishings to create the sense of specific zones for cooking, dining and studying.
Buyers are also seeking out properties with work spaces because many are still working from home a few days a week.
Even if you do not work at home, you may wish to carve out a work space to impress potential buyers.
You can do this by adding a work station with a desk and nice lamp to the corner of a room — just enough so buyers can imagine themselves working comfortably at home.
Better still is an insulated and weather-proofed garden office, or ‘shoffice’ (shed-office) at the bottom of your garden.
The cost of installing one of these is around £9,500, but they can provide a £22,000 boost to the value of your home, according to analysis by Birmingham estate agents Barrows & Forrester.
From pools to conservatories, energy guzzlers are out
Conservatories are being snubbed by homebuyers who are worried the rooms are expensive to heat in winter and too hot to enjoy in the summer.
Other energy-sapping features have also fallen out of favour as a result of the soaring cost of gas and electricity.
These include hot tubs and swimming pools, which are expensive to run and maintain. They may put off some potential buyers.
Martin Ballantine, of consultancy Prime Collection, says: ‘If you install a swimming pool, you’re condensing your market to a niche.
‘Lots of buyers will be worried about the cost of maintenance. There are also safety issues for families with young children.’
In demand: An insulated and weather-proofed garden office, or ‘shoffice’ (shed-office) at the bottom of your garden can provide a £22,000 boost to the value of your home
More homebuyers are now looking at a home’s EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) before considering a purchase.
To boost yours, consider adding insulation to the loft space if necessary and seal draughts around windows and doors.
Double glazing typically costs £7,000, but boosts the value of properties by around £8,830 on average, according to Barrows & Forrester.
Henry Pryor, a buying agent who seeks out properties for house hunters, says: ‘Most energy-efficiency improvements will be reflected in the value of a property these days, but not all of them.
‘An electric car charging point will probably not add much value . . . yet.’
This is because very few prospective buyers prioritise this feature at present.
However, these charging points could become more valuable over the coming years as a growing number of households buy electric cars.
Adding space adds value, but do it right
Increasing the square footage of your home is likely to add more value than putting in a fancy new bathroom or kitchen.
A garage conversion that creates an extra bedroom with an en-suite bathroom can give a £28,751 boost, for example.
It is important to research the market in your local area before going ahead with any works.
Catherine Merrett, of Richmond-based estate agents Antony Roberts, says: ‘Many people assume an extension or loft conversion will add value, outweighing the cost of the works. But much depends on your location.’
Ms Merrett suggests scouring property websites Rightmove and Zoopla for homes similar to yours and comparing prices between those that have been extended and those that have not.
Turn-off: Swimming pools, which are expensive to run and maintain, may put off some potential buyers
Check the photos and floorplans of properties for sale and those that have recently sold. This should give you an idea of the potential return from improvements.
She adds: ‘For example, we have a pretty house on our books for £1.7 million that’s not been extended.
‘But a similar property in the locality which had been extended and refurbished sold for considerably more at £2.3 million.’
Before you embark on a home improvement project, make sure the fundamentals are sound first.
James Forrester, of Barrows & Forrester, says: ‘There are some home improvements, such as repairing or replacing a boiler or a roof, that may not provide any payback at all.
‘But without such repairs, you may struggle to sell at all. Address basic defects before considering any improvement project.’
> Could you move home? Check the best mortgage rates for your circumstances
Are we on the verge of a house price crash or soft landing?
House prices have started to fall annually for the first time since the early months of the pandemic.
This comes as mortgage rates have risen substantially since the Bank of England started raising base rate at the end of 2021.
So, what will happen next and will we see a interest rate-induced crash or a soft landing? And would lower house prices not be a good thing?
On this podcast Simon Lambert, Helen Crane and Georgie Frost look at what might happen to property prices.
Press play to listen on the player above, or listen at Apple Podcasts, Audioboom, YouTube and Spotify or visit our This is Money Podcast page.
Neutral appeals to many… but don’t be bland
A neutral decor of beiges and creams is the traditional way to attract purchasers. But buyers these days can be deterred if a home looks too boring, soulless and corporate rather than inviting.
Vikki Broad, of Hamptons estate agents, says: ‘Adding a bit of personality goes a long way.
‘People tend to feel more emotionally connected to a property that has been loved and lived in, and where they can imagine themselves living happily ever after.
‘Colour can evoke emotion, so don’t be afraid to inject a bit into your home.’
You should also think twice about selling a property that is empty.
Consider borrowing or renting some furniture while the property is on the market if it is not being lived in.
Ms Broad adds: ‘People buy a lifestyle more than the bricks and mortar — and it’s hard to imagine yourself living in an empty property.’
Unnecessary: Electric car charging points could become more valuable over the coming years as a growing number of households buy electric cars
Know the buyer you want and make small chnages
Think about what type of house buyer you are hoping to attract.
For example, if you think families are your potential buyers, Ms Merrett recommends a downstairs toilet and utility room, as well as plenty of integrated storage.
The typical cost of a utility room is £8,100 — but it can add £14,375, according to Barrows & Forrester.
A new kitchen or bathroom could impress buyers — but you may be able to achieve the same result on a much lower budget.
You can bring the wow factor to your kitchen by repainting or replacing unit doors or worktops and fitting new lighting.
Updating the kitchen hardware such as handles and knobs can be another cheap fix.
B&Q has a range of antique and contemporary styles. Browse the latest trends on Instagram, online and in property magazines to give you an idea of what buyers may be looking for.
A quick redecoration can offer one of the best returns on your investment.
The typical cost for an entire repaint is £2,975, but should give an uplift of £8,913, according to Barrows & Forrester.
Some of the most effective home improvements require no budget at all.
A spring clean and declutter can help make your home look much more desirable.
Ms Merrett adds: ‘Pruning trees and hedges if they are blocking the light to the property will help as well.’
Make a feature that might detract into an asset
Conservatories may no longer be in vogue, but there are still steps you can take to show yours in its best light.
Make sure it appears as a place to relax surrounded by elegant foliage, and not a storage facility for tools, bikes and other household items.
If the heat of your conservatory wilts plants, replace them with the fake variety, available at retailers such as Blooming Artificial, Marks & Spencer, Robert Dyas and others.
You can also make your conservatory more energy efficient by putting in a better-insulated roof or blinds.
However, the bill for these modifications can be in the thousands, and you may not make the money back when you come to sell.
As a quick and cheap fix, special films can be attached to the glass windows to help insulate them.