Looking to sell or add value to your home? Phil Spencer shares some top tips

Home owners now stay put for an average 19 years before moving, according to a new report.

Here, TV property expert Phil Spencer shares his insight into current housing trends, as well as the property pitfalls to watch out for…

Why do you think people are choosing to stay put for so long rather than moving?
“The cost associated with moving has increased significantly in recent times, with agency fees, removal costs etc. Without a booming housing market, home owners perhaps haven’t generated equity in their homes that they would have done in previous decades that would have enabled them to take another step up the ladder.”

What changes have you seen over the years for what buyers are looking for and how sellers are presenting their homes?
“I’ve been involved in the housing market for over 25 years and, as with all things, there are trends. There are elements of fashion and, as with clothing, fashion changes, so be careful of that and don’t go too far out on a limb.

“There was a trend for open plan and generally opening things out, but I’d say that’s changing again.

“More en-suite bathrooms have been prioritised recently. They take up more space and don’t always add huge amounts of value when re-selling, so it will be interesting to see if this lasts. Pantries and larders are also on the up, as we crave more and more space.”

What do home owners need to be mindful of when thinking about making improvements – are there pitfalls to watch out for?
“Simply put – bad DIY. It’s obvious when somethings been done cheaply, we should all be mindful of that. You also need to be realistic with the space you’ve got. Every property has a ceiling price and as long as you’re aware of that, then you’re good.

“I would say you need to be consistent. I’ve seen expensive bathrooms in cheap houses and it can look very out of place. Always match the price bracket of fittings to that of the house.

“Also, not to make things too personal to you and your taste and lifestyle. If you’re doing it for you, great, but if you want to re-sell be careful. You always need to appeal to the largest possible denominator – there is a reason people use magnolia!”

What should home owners bear in mind when considering whether to move or improve?
“Do the maths and your research. Work out how long you would be able to stay in your property if you improved. Is it worth it? What would it be worth having done the work? It’s a big decision, and it’s rare that the answer is obvious. If you’ve done your research, then go with your decision and stick with it.”

Is it worth spending significant money on the garden as well as the home?
“Yes – treat your garden the way you would treat another room. Outside space can be as valuable, if not more so, than another room in the house. I’m pleased to say people have realised this and are spending more time and effort on their gardens.”

Is it better as a buyer to purchase a ‘doer-upper’ or a turn-key home which needs no work – what are the pros and cons?
“Each to their own, to be honest. Some people are in the right stage of life to do a project, and some aren’t.

“Last time I moved, taking a project on was the last thing I wanted to do. I was changing areas, which meant changing schools, and I just wanted a home I could move straight into.”

Do you have any tips for sellers trying to present their home to buyers over Christmas, bearing in mind some may have Christmas trees and decorations around the home?
“Don’t over-decorate. But (the) chances of serious buyers looking at buying house over the festive period are rare. I wouldn’t take any estate agent photos with decorations, as they will date quickly.”

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