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Home Improvements: A review of the past year

A few things have changed over the past 6 months, not just for us and our house painting work, but also the UK market in General.

Which way is it all going?

The signs are that the housing market is slowly picking up (Source BBC news) and even the government are patting themselves on the back with their shared equity home ownership deal, which has seen a sharp rise in applications, but it would seem that rising home values can be bad too.

The Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said the housing market had “turned a corner” and has been saying all sorts of nice things about our housing market, but people should be planning a party and crack open the champers just yet.

Since the end of the 1990’s, houses have quadrupled in value. A RICS report, quoted by Rueters, proclaimed that more and more properties are coming on to the market and buyer confidence is increasing.

“With positivity starting to return to areas right across the UK, it seems those who may have been waiting for the right time to sell are choosing now to do so,” RICS said.

That’s great if you actually own a house, even with no mortgage, but for many people, especially the younger generation, this is about the worse news that they could hear after a period of stagnation and small drops in average home values.

In fact a group of lenders argued, again in the Telegraph, that prices could actually see a rise of 11% over the next couple of years

For the people whop are still in the renting trap, with the added insecurity of the assured short hold tenancies, meaning that after 6 months of home making, one  letter from the landlord can see you with a month to pack your bags and out on the street, so any rise in value is a bad thing.

From my travels around the world, the need to “be the king of our own castle” is so strong in the UK compared to other places like Spain, Italy or Germany, but perhaps this may be exaggerated by the lack of any domestic security offered, or not offered, by tenancy agreements in the UK?

Surely communities would BENEFIT from a less transient population?

Who the hell can afford to buy somewhere?

The Telegraph newspaper recently reported that, in London, for a young person to get the first rung on the housing ladder, they need to amass an eye-watering £64,000 deposit just to get their foot inside the door!

How much?!!!!!!
How much?!!!!!!

Do you know any young people with that sort of money?

IT is virtually impossible to save up for a deposit if you are already paying rent each month, trust me, I have been in the exact same position a few years ago and it is both frustrating and heart breaking.

So IS the UK housing market REALLY experiencing an upturn or is it just “waffle” and “spin” from the government?

Well, it would appear not, although I personally am not sure yet as to whether this is a good thing or not, but the CML (Council of mortgage lenders) said that in July 2013, first time buyer loans were up by a staggering 41%, which begs the question, where are these people getting the deposit from?

Mum and dad probably!

All this can be yours one day, son!
All this can be yours one day, son!

They went on to say that this represents 25,300 loans, which putting it into context, is still a monthly figure 10,000 short of the levels of loans issued before the recession.

First time buyers are still a rarity and as long as people in the UK see a house as an investment and not a home, problems for people excluded form the market still persist.

Another boom and bust?

Well, not if the government can help it.

The Royal Institute of chartered surveyors are putting pressure on the bank of England to limit price rises to “no more than 5% per annum”, although they ruled out limiting the value that sellers can get for their houses.

UK money pounds

They also suggested that still at the moment the amount of stock actually on the market remains low, which could in theory skew the supply and demand model as less houses and rising demand would create another bubble, something we should all be wary of.

Moving away from first time buyers, what about people who already own a house or want to sell?

If you already own a property you may be aware that it has to have money spent on it from time to time just to keep it in good shape.

Oh the joy of owning your own home!
Oh the joy of owning your own home!

Making sure the roof doesn’t leak, making sure perhaps that it is well insulated or even paying someone to paint it, sure need to be done, even if only to protect the money you have already invested in the building.

For those who own a house but are looking to move on to another, there are various things you can do to ensure you get it sold, and for the price you want, but don’t be complacent like many sellers were during the early part of the noughties, hard work is still called for if you want to sell your house.

Has our business been affected?

Well yes and no, and we await with baited breath to see if the “positive” signals in the housing market mean people will start to spend money on their homes again.

When the recession kicked in, in around 2008, our industry suffered badly with the exit of a prime group of “typical clients” , usually aged between 30 and 45 years old, who would re-mortgage their house and have the exterior walls repaired and painted with one of our wall coating systems

This increased its value and kerb appeal, whoever now many of our clients are typically business people or retired with no kids and no mortgage to pay for, although there are exceptions to that rule.

Also, finding the right company on Google has got harder and any regular reader will know how much Google has farted about with the search results, resulting in our site vanishing for a time and then reappearing but underneath crap 6 page sites written by builders on their day off. Hopefully with the changes we have made, and the next algorithm update, we should back to where we belong, above the cowboys and one man bands.

Quotes and estimates

The past couple of years has also been an eye-opener for us.

We are seeing when we get asked to quote for work, the clients getting 5, 6 or even 7 quotes from different people before they decide, suggesting that perhaps with any home improvement works, people are still very cautious about parting with any money.

You really need no more than 3 quotes at best.

We are also seeing a bad sign in many potential clients going for the absolute cheapest quote to have work done, often paying cash in hand to some illegal immigrant with a van and thus very few overheads to pay for.

The cheapest quotes may be from con men, hustlers and cowboy builders so why bother?
The cheapest quotes may be from con men, hustlers and cowboy builders so why bother?

This is a disaster waiting to happen.

There are many things you can do to help sell your house if that is what you wanting, painting the exterior is a prime example, but choosing the cheapest is NOT being sensible and frugal, it is playing with fire because you WILL get a poorer quality job and poor quality materials.

If your house is worth hundreds of thousands, why be such a skinflint with keeping it in good shape?

Its a false economy I assure you.

Do you feel more confident about the housing market?

What is your experience?

Are you trying to sell your home?

Are you one of the lucky first time buyers who actually can get onto the ladder or have you been priced out and left to fester in rented accommodation?

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