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Period Conversions – Maximising your Rental Return

Period conversions offer the epitome of a London lifestyle. Stunning, traditional architecture on the outside and a light, open and contemporary living space on the inside. That’s if you get it right! But if you’ve just bought an older property as a buy-to-let and want to add value to your rental investment by transforming a series of dark, pokey rooms into a bright, modern interior that will appeal to tenants, how do you go about it?

First of all, think about how your tenants want to live. We don’t live in the same way today that we did when these period homes were built. So that means combining period charm with contemporary layouts and design. Traditionally, period homes were built with small rooms (and often small windows) that were easy to heat but today we prefer large, open plan living spaces, lots of light and access to the garden.

Some ‘Golden Rules’ of Letting

Decide who you are planning to let to. Clearly, a two bedroom property will achieve a higher rental than a one bedroom – it will attract sharers, as well as singles and couples, and also make the property suitable for a small family, increasing your target market. By converting a large one bedroom property into a two bed, you could increase the rental by as much as 30%, although clearly the square footage will remain the same and the capital value may not change much so you need to be sure whether you are aiming to rent the property or sell it.

Bathrooms are also important. In fact, one of our ‘golden rules of letting’ is that a two bedroom property must have two bathrooms. Professional sharers often choose this type of accommodation and for them, two bathrooms will be essential. In fact, adding a second bathroom will increase the rental value of your property by around 15%.

A Blank Canvas

Next, completely rethink the living space. We recently advised on a major refurbishment project of an apartment at Princes Gate near Hyde Park and I think it’s a really good illustration of what can be achieved. We worked closely with our sister company In:Style Direct on the project which was for one of our investor clients and it meant gutting the interior of the apartment to create a blank sheet from which to work.

‘Refurbishment at Princes Gate’

Before After
Princes Gate Reception - Before Princes Gate Reception - After
Princes Gate Kitchen- Before Princes Gate Kitchen - After
Princes Gate Bath - Before Princes Gate Bathroom - After

In this case, we advised taking down a stud wall which had been put up some years ago to create a third bedroom out of the existing living space. Taking down the stud wall meant we could open up the original living room to create a magnificent, open plan living area. This contradicts everything I’ve just said but for this property the aim was to create a really large, imposing living space and taking away the third bedroom was the only way to do this.

The living area now has three floor to ceiling windows that flood the double height room with light and create a magnificent reception area that complements the splendour of the building’s white, stucco fronted façade.

The original layout was restrictive and really didn’t meet the needs of our modern lifestyles but now our client has a very grand living space with plenty of flexibility. It’s the best of both worlds – traditional architecture combined with a stunning, contemporary living design and layout.

Do the Maths!

Sometimes landlords delay updating properties because of the cost but we find that most recoup the outlay in around 18 months, as the rent can be increased substantially, particularly if the property is in a prime location where tenants expect the best presentation and décor. Your letting agent should be able to advise on how a refurbishment could increase your rental or talk to one of our lettings team for more information.

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About the Author

Marc has been a board director since 2001 and oversees the company’s rental operations as well as developing new business. He is instrumental in the company’s expansion and works closely with Managing Director Anita Mehra to develop its core services. Read more about Marc von Grundherr here - Read full profile

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