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Spring 2016: What have been the biggest property trends?

Date online: 26/05/2016

1. Eco-happy

Louise Ridings of Stacks Property Search says, “While there are plenty of one-off sustainable homes around the country, you don't often see Passivhaus developments as constructions costs are restrictively high. But we are witnessing an increasing desire for eco-friendly homes from buyers in both towns and country.

The good news is that Larkfleet Homes has developed a prototype house that meets both Passivhaus and Code for Sustainable Homes level six standards for thermal resistance and airtightness. It has the potential for mass production and widespread use across the UK. Bring it on!”

2. Moving your children out, and the paying guests in

Amanda Ake of Stacks Property Search says, “How long after the offspring have left do you keep their bedrooms ready for their occasional visits? Twenty years ago the answer was pretty much 'for ever'; today, the answer is more likely to be 'not very long at all'. The rise of Airbnb and similar websites has encouraged homeowners to take down the posters, do several runs to the recycling centre, redecorate, and start getting some income from the vacated bedrooms. More extreme behaviour is to sell up – quickly, before the fledglings decide it's more comfortable at home – and buy something that's too small to accommodate them.

Generous parents may use some of the proceeds of the downsizing procedure to help the children get a toe onto the property ladder.”

3. Build your own

David Brooke-Smith of Stacks Property Search says, “Housing Minister Brandon Lewis says he wants to double self-build numbers by 2020, and there are a number of Government initiatives in place to help make this happen. The finances are further helped by the fact that purchasers only pay Stamp Duty on the plot, not on the building that they construct. The rush to self-build is on. Of all the difficulties that self-builders inevitably face, the most challenging is finding a good plot. And don't expect to find a well located building plot for a bargain price.

A third of an acre with detailed planning permission for a 3,500 sq ft detached house in the desirable Cotswold town of Chipping Campden is on the market for an eye-watering £775,000. Building costs would realistically come in at upwards of £400,000, so there's not a great deal of profit in the project, but at least that means buyers are unlikely to be competing with developers for the site.

If you're going to build your own, there are two things you should remember: it will always take longer, and it will always cost more!”

4. Ugly is the new beautiful:

David Brooke-Smith of Stacks Property Search says, “Maybe it's because of George Clarke, or maybe the reasons are more to do with economics, but we are beginning to see a greater acceptance of houses that are less than beautiful. There's always been prestige attached to classic period properties, with buyers' hackles stirring when we show them something less traditional. But when ugly properties meet all the criteria, and often offer better value than their beauty parade equivalents, buyers are beginning to see the benefits.

At Stacks, we've always maintained that ugly is only brick deep, and there's a lot of facelift trickery that can be carried out. Gather ideas from landscape gardeners, architects and builders; invest in great windows; blur straight lines with landscaping; avoid introducing high fashion that might have become the new ugly by the time you sell!

5. Who wants a period interior?

Amanda Ake of Stacks Property Search says: “A vast number of houses in London have been gutted, leaving a classic exterior façade, but little trace of any other period features. The trend is now moving into the country as wealthy buyers acquire large period properties and rip out their insides. The previous trend was to add an uber-modern kitchen/living extension, but it seems that many homeowners want straight lines throughout, just leaving the exterior wobbles and character to look at from the safety of the garden.”

6. Beating the gaming game

Jo Aldridge of Stacks Property Search says, “Parents are using increasingly devious methods to encourage their offspring to abandon their game stations, and get some good old fashioned fresh air. Methods we have recently witnessed at a range of properties include pump tracks, climbing walls and skate park ramps in the garden, and shooting targets for air rifles in the orchard.”

7. Must-have kitchen gadgets

James Greenwood of Stacks Property Search says, “Recycling enthusiasts like everything to be streamlined. Separate kitchen drawers for bottles, cans, plastic, cardboard and paper, that interconnect with the exterior where they get decanted into waiting recycling containers are becoming de rigueur in eco-conscious households. A similar arrangement takes logs for the wood burning stove from outside to in.

If you think these magic drawers are for you, make sure you address potential insulation problems before you embark on the project.”

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