The proximity to bars, restaurants and High Streets used to be the major draws for renters on the move but there is evidence to suggest that a suitable home working environment is creeping onto the ‘must have’ list.
In fact, Rightmove reported a 326% increase in use of terms ’office’, ‘workspace’ and ‘working from home’ in property listings in 2020, while there had been a 90% jump in the number of buyers and renters searching for an outbuilding and a 89% increase for ‘annex’ or ‘annexe’.
Renters relocating for a new work-life balance
Many professionals can see a future either exclusively at home or split between their residence and a centralised office hub, with a new ability to wean themselves off city centre locations. Reflecting this, Rightmove also found people increasingly looking to move from inner cities to small towns, outlying commuter zones, coastal locations and semi-rural idylls when it analysed more than 60 million rental searches towards the end of last year.
The home office: fad or foolproof property addition?
This poses a question for landlords who want to fill properties during 2021. Is it worth investing time and effort to create a home office in their buy-to-lets? Underpinning any decision has to be the return on investment and ability to add value.
But here’s a warning: adding a home office has never ranked in the top 5 improvements that increase rental returns, which are traditionally new kitchens, new communal bathrooms, adding en-suites, creating more natural light and improving outside space. There are other considerations too:
Landlords: 5 extra points to consider before adding a home office
- You may have to sacrifice a bedroom to create a dedicated home office, which can negatively affect how much rent you can achieve.
- If you’re thinking of making an existing bedroom smaller by installing a partition wall to create a work area, remember there are minimum bedrooms sizes in buy-to-lets by law - no smaller than 6.51 square metres for one adult and at least at least 10.22 square metres for two adults.
- If you offer your buy-to-let with bills included and are creating a dedicated home office, tenants will expect excellent broadband.
- If there’s a large swing back towards working in offices, landlords may have to repurpose home offices at their own expense.
- Tenants may be swayed by fancy ‘Built to Rent’ developments, with purpose-built communal office space and conferencing facilities.
Improving your property investment - is it worth the hassle?
Not always. We tackled the merits of installing a new kitchen in a rental property in a previous blog, weighing up whether it was worth the work and cost, even if it was something the tenants were asking for. One of the ideas explored was coming to the decision of selling a rental property that you can’t afford to maintain. If you’re feeling that your rental isn’t fit for purpose, we can buy your property for cash – even if it has sitting tenants.
Are you left without tenants in the great relocation rush?
If you own a small inner city buy-to-let that has fallen out of favour with tenants, you may be re-evaluating your future in lettings. Our property buying service is something to consider. As a cash buyer, we can complete our purchase in as little as 10 days, to avoid void periods, or you can set your own completion date. We start by offering you an immediate, no obligation cash offer – discover what we could pay by requesting a valuation.