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    If you can’t move, it’s time to improve


    The Council of Mortgage Lenders recently reported that over 900,000 borrowers will now be in negative equity as a result of the downturn in the property market. They added that three in four of those have an average shortfall of between £6,000 and £8,000. With house prices having tumbled by 20% since October 2007, many homeowners now find themselves unable to move.

    While a stagnant market could make you feel like you're stuck on the same rung of the property ladder, there is nothing stopping you making plans for when you can sell. If the credit crunch hasn't hit your finances too hard then investing in some home improvements could help claw back some of that value your property has lost. There have been a few small indications of recovery in the market recently too - both Nationwide and Halifax have reported an average 1.5% rise in house prices in May, compared to almost 18 months of decline. Now could be the perfect time to get your property into shape and ready for the future market.

    Adding significant value to your property doesn't necessarily mean shelling out a fortune on extensions, brand new kitchens or loft conversions. There are simpler and less expensive methods that could add considerably to your selling price. Here are some examples:

    Install wood flooring

    Installing wood flooring is one of the easiest ways to increase your valuation. The warm, natural tones of oak will bring a touch of style and elegance to any home and can really enhance the existing decor. A recent study by Woodcare showed that wood flooring could add 5 to 10% to the value of your home, whilst another survey of estate agents suggested that properties with wood flooring also sell faster. It is much more affordable than ever before, with high quality oak flooring from top brands now available for as little as £30 per square meter. Take a look at the range available at 1926 Wood Flooring, with styles and colours to suit all tastes.

    Give your kitchen a facelift

    A new kitchen can also add 5 to 10% to your valuation, but it isn't always necessary to completely replace everything in order to have the desired effect. If you are happy with the layout then you could consider either re-finishing or re-facing the existing units. The cheapest option is to re-finish your kitchen by painting all your cupboard and drawer fronts, which is an excellent option if you want to compliment any other redecorating of the room. Re-facing is also becoming more and more popular and simply requires the purchase of new cupboard and drawer fronts, rather than entire units. If your budget can stretch to it, a new worktop to match your newly regenerated units will really finish it off. For further information, take a look at this guide on transforming your kitchen.

    Re-decorate

    It may sound straightforward, but it is easy to underestimate the impact that simply re-decorating a room can have. A fresh coat of paint on the walls, doors and skirting boards can vastly improve the feel of a room and if you do it yourself the only cost involved is from the materials. The effect a paint makeover can have on your valuation will far outweigh the price of a few tins of paint, a set of quality brushes and some sandpaper. Take your time researching and testing colour schemes for different rooms and remember that lighter, neutral colours provide the illusion of spaciousness and allow potential buyers to easily imagine living in that space. Get started with this comprehensive guide on painting and decorating.

    If current market conditions have left you unable to move, maximising the potential of your home is the next best thing. With a variety of ways to make improvements, to suit a range of budgets, it is possible to regain some of that lost value and prepare your biggest asset for when the property market recovers. Even if moving is a long way off yet, you can still enjoy the improvements you make whilst you live there.

    N.B. The information contained in this story is provided by the supplier and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of lets-do-diy.com.


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