“An era of austerity has led to many homeowners looking to their property to provide finance for school fees, setting their children up with a deposit for a home, retiring, divorcing, or any other of a range of the countless pressing needs for cash. But releasing capital doesn’t have to involve downsizing,” says Nick Wooldridge of Stacks Property Search.
“There are ways of maintaining or even gaining space and freeing up equity at the same time. This will invariably involve some compromise, but select carefully and you’ll be sitting pretty.
“Some villages are considered the crème de la crème – great school, good community, village shop, perfect pub, chocolate-box-pretty. Although these are all arguably ‘nice to have’, you may not necessarily need to tick all these boxes, and moving from an area’s ‘best’ village to a not quite so fashionable spot as little as a couple of miles away could save you as much as 20% while leaving you within reach of all your favourite friends and places.
“Reduced commuting time is extremely valuable. So if you don’t need to commute, or you’re prepared to set the alarm 30 minutes earlier, you can make dramatic savings. Property in Haslemere, with its mainline station, costs 30% more than in nearby Midhurst where residents will have to make a 15 minute drive to Haslemere station.”
“We have short memories. One of the reasons you chose a particular area may have been because of the schools, but if your children are already safely established, or you’re out of the school system altogether, you’re living in a premium area and can save cash simply by moving to the other side of the catchment area line.”
“With the exception of new developments, and contemporary architect statements, non-period property is generally significantly cheaper than period property, often by as much as 20% for the same amount of space. “Aesthetically, home buyers who are used to living in quirky properties built in local materials may struggle with reconstituted stone and less features; but there can be advantages. Houses often work well ergonomically, proportions and light can be better; and maintenance costs can be lower.”
“If you’ve been enjoying a huge garden or a patch of your own land, downsizing the outside space but retaining the internal accommodation can free up significant sums of cash. Swapping a four bedroom house in Monmouthshire with half an acre of garden and two acres of land for the same house and location but with no land and a quarter of an acre of garden will put £150,000 in your pocket.
“By crossing a county border, usually putting a few extra miles between you and London, you can free up significant capital. Gloucestershire to Warwickshire; Oxfordshire to Gloucestershire; Dorset to Somerset; Leicestershire to Nottinghamshire; Buckinghamshire to Northamptonshire, or Berkshire to Oxfordshire can give you the same bricks for around 30% less buck. If you already live near a border, the move can be made with not too much disruption to lifestyle, apart from having to deal with the reduced status of your new postcode!
“Some of this advice flies in the face of the usual ‘location, location, location’ mantra. But property isn’t all about investment. If you need the space, but need to liquidise some cash, something’s got to give. Living in a house that’s too small for you simply to maximise your capital growth potential doesn’t, and shouldn’t, make sense.
“But if you are going to move to a less prime area, buy sensibly. If you can pick a location where you can see that the seeds of improvement have been sown, and a property that has the potential for adding value, you will be sitting pretty.”
Stacks Property Search & Acquisition, 01594 842880 / www.stacks.co.uk
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