Punitive stamp duty taxes, moving costs and stress mean that homeowners in London are now adopting a ‘don’t move, improve’ attitude to property. 63% 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%) would now rather invest in home maintenance on their existing property than buy something new (15%).
Although homeowners appreciate this value, since the slowdown in the housing market only a quarter (27%) are investing more into their property and more than half (58%) 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% are put off home maintenance as a result. The most cited reason is a lack of available funds (49%).
Bill Shipton, Managing Director of Bold & Reeves in Mayfair, said: “Although almost one in four people (23%) 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% 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% since December 2015.
Further ONS research on Family Spending highlights that alterations and improvements to the dwelling account for 14% 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%, an average of £7.60 per week.
Almost 60% (57%) 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%) 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.”