Q&A with Phil Spencer – Buy a bungalow, then sell a house!

I’ve received lots of interesting questions to my Rated People email account – thanks to everyone who sent them in. I had a few hours sat still at a desk this morning in-between filming, which gave me a chance to answer some of them. I would have liked to answer them all, but, as I said I only had a few hours, so here are some of the best/most frequently asked questions. Answered.

Q1. Garages

Does converting a garage add value to a property? Or can it actually reduce the value of a property?

Emma from Reading, Berkshire

Its often said that 90% of garages in the UK never contain a car. So yes Emma, they can provide useful opportunities for extending living spaces.

As always the work would be subject to the relevant consents. But seeing as living space is more valuable – per square foot – than parking space, yes it can make financial sense to convert an unused garage into a habitable room. Depending on the layout of the house they can make excellent playrooms, offices or family snugs.

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The real key to doing it successfully involves the access. If it’s possible to make the new room feel properly incorporated into main the house, as though it was always been designed like that, that’s when the maximum value can be created. If it feels ‘bolted on’ and it is very obvious that it used to be the garage, less is gained.

Q2. Bungalows

Do bungalows retain their value and are they likely to become a lot more desirable in the future with the ageing population?

Colin & Taryn from south Cambridgeshire

For some reason bungalows tend not to be as ‘desirable’ as full houses. However, my feeling is that they can offer strong opportunities for people looking to create and add value. Not only do they often come with a decent sized plot, they also provide excellent possibilities for extensions – both upwards as well as outwards.

If you can buy a bungalow with a generous garden for less money than an equivalent sized house would cost, then extend it, there can be money to be made. Buy a bungalow, then sell a house!

As far as retaining value is concerned then yes, it’s true, we have an ageing population and this may transfer into increased demand for single storey living. The only thing I’d say is that it’s a mistake to think the older generation are prepared to accept anything less than top quality modern fixtures and fittings; if you’re renovating a bungalow with a retired or downsizing target market in mind, don’t skimp on the bathrooms or kitchens!

Q3. Stay or go…

Should we stay, or should we go? Our house is currently on the market, & now we’re dithering…

We LOVE the location of our current home, it’s perfect: lots of parks, duck ponds, a river, local school, pub & amenities, but we’ve outgrown the house. So, should we..

  1. Stay & extend our house to create the space we need (our concern is that it will eat too much into the garden, not add value etc. etc.)
  2. Move to a house we love (but do not love its location)
  3. Move to a bigger house in a location we love (but do not love the style of the house)

Lisa from Northwich, Cheshire

This is a tricky question to answer Lisa, there are so many issues at play, and many families are likely to find themselves in a similar position.

From a professional advisory point of view, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer as each family’s issues will be highly individual. Some will value their friends and neighbours higher than the length of school journey or kids friends etc etc and some will feel the reverse is true. The only advise I can give is to go with whatever feels right for you in your own unique situation.

Having said that, the costs involved in selling, moving and buying are high; and once added up as well as ‘taxed up’ (which will need to be paid in cash rather than on mortgage!) may well mean option 1 of staying and extending makes better financial sense. Even if it wasn’t the greatest extension, or even if it did compromise your enjoyment of the garden (so long as it had a reasonable sized one to start with) then the sums involved might still add up to less than all the associated costs of moving. Worth considering.

Best,

PHIL

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