London home renovations reach record levels as 20 buyers chase every property for sale

More than 100,000 Londoners applied for planning permission to upgrade their properties as the cost of moving deters home owners from taking the next step.
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The number of homes for sale in Britain is at its lowest level since records began in 1978, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, with its members currently reporting an average of just 47 properties on their books.
In London, it seems the crippling cost of moving is deterring home owners from taking the next step up the property ladder.
Removal costs, stamp duty and new strict mortgage lending rules following the Mortgage Market Review are driving families to make more space in their homes. As a result, record numbers of owners are staying put and renovating their homes instead.
In the year to March — the latest figures available — more than 100,000 Londoners applied for planning permission to upgrade their properties with new basements, attic bedrooms, side returns and kitchen extensions.
This compares with 87,000 applications the year before, and fewer than 67,000 in 2009, says Barbour ABI, which tracks trends in the UK construction industry.
It represents a renovation leap of more than 40 per cent between 2009 and this year.
Of course, the true figure may be far higher, as many rear, side return and loft extensions do not require planning consent.


With new relaxed planning laws, it will be even easier for home improvers, who will now be able to add two storeys to their property with their neighbours’ consent.
Charlie Parkin, associate director of Aylesford International estate agents, confirms the cost of moving makes it prohibitive. “Stamp duty is a big factor — it has taken the stuffing out of the market,” he says.

Saul Empson, of Haringtons buying agents, says that even highly priced basement extensions are becoming viable. “If the alternative is having to pay £1,500 to £2,000 per square foot for existing space in a new house, why not dig for extra space in your old house at a cost of £500 per square foot?” he says.
A paucity of movers in the market could have a knock-on effect on the number of properties available to buy.
Paul Smith, chief executive of Spicerhaart estate agents, says: “Our data shows that there are currently 20 buyers chasing every property for sale in London, so finding that dream house is near impossible.”

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