Though activity is increasing in the property market, many bargains can still be found. When you spot one, what can you do to ensure you make a good investment? This Fulham house was offered for sale for an unusually low £550,000, so we asked the experts how a buyer could capitalise on its potential, adding value in a very popular road in SW6.
Haldane Road, SW6, £550,000
This semi-detached Victorian house has an attractive brick and white-painted façade and a much sought-after south-facing 23ft back garden.
Tom de Winton, estate agent John D Wood’s Fulham manager, who is familiar with all property in this area, confirms: "It is low-priced for this street. The whole area is popular. It’s close to Earls Court for commuting and you can shop for fresh food at the market."
Neighbouring houses have sold, within the last four months, for £730,000 - that’s £180,000 more than our promising property. So what alterations would give the new buyer a profit and unlock the home’s potential value?
The area is beloved of couples with young children, but this 884sq ft house only has two bedrooms. The kitchen is a disappointing, skinny galley, 15ft by less than seven feet, with no dining area. It would be a squeeze for a family of four. De Winton says that addressing these two issues, by enlarging the kitchen and adding a bedroom, would significantly increase any asking price.
How to improve
For the best method of improvement we asked our expert architect Hugo Tugman, founder of Architect Your Home, a pay-as-you-go service that allows home improvers to use as much or as little of its expertise as they need. Tugman suggested a loft conversion to create bedroom space and a side return extension to make a more spacious kitchen.
"This kind of project is especially popular in an expensive area like Fulham, where the value per sq ft means that if you can open up the loft and create space from the side return [shifting the side wall of the kitchen outwards and building a single-storey extension up to the boundary] it’s really a no-brainer for adding value." His suggested method for the loft conversion is to put in a loft dormer - a flat-roofed, flat-sided section that extends outwards from the slope of the roof - for extra headroom.
What will you spend?
Tugman says the owner should budget roughly £40,000 for the side return extension and a further £45,000 for a loft conversion. "Adding an en suite would probably add 10 per cent to the cost of the loft, but you might decide not to bother , as it will be pretty tight."
The side return extension cost includes £10,000-£12,000 for fitting out a kitchen. "There’s the opportunity to opt for a cheapish kitchen or to spend extra on your dream design.We’re a pay-as-you-go service, so people can use us to help with the construction and do the interiors themselves."
The likely payback
And the added value verdict? Tom de Winton says: "If the owner carries out these two alterations, the £85,000-worth of work could add £200,000 to the sale price. A similar property in Haldane Road, with a side return extension but no loft extension, sold in April for £730,000. If the property we are looking at is given a bigger kitchen and an extra bedroom, I’d say it could be worth between £725,000 and £750,000, depending on a good-quality job."
The challenge: spend £85.000 and make £200,000
This Victorian house for sale in Fulham has it all: a great location in a street that’s popular with families; a fine brick façade and a 23ft south-facing rear garden.So why is it priced at only £550,000 - much less than neighbouring properties?
The front needs tidying but it is the narrow kitchen - and the fact that it has only two bedrooms - that make this property too small for a family of four.
The experts’ solution: extend the kitchen into the little-used side return and build an extra bedroom in the loft, extending the stairs to reach it and, maybe, adding an en suite. An immediate £175,000-£200,000 price-hike should follow, after a likely spend of about £85,000.
For property, visit johndwood.co.uk (020 7731 4223); for more on Architect Your Home, visit architect-yourhome.com (0800 849 8505).