Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Don't Move. Improve! Tees Beating Gloom with 'Make Do and Mend' Trend

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Don't Move. Improve! Tees Beating Gloom with 'Make Do and Mend' Trend

Article excerpt

Byline: SUE SCOTT

AS house building sites close down on Teesside, others are enjoying an upturn in business. SUE SCOTT reports.

THERE are signs that homeowners on Teesside are responding to the gloom in the housing market by deciding to stay put and improve rather than move.

While regional housebuilders have watched billions wiped off their bottom lines, Stockton-based Court Homemakers said a new enthusiasm for makeovers has helped it achieve sales figures equal to those of last year.

The make do and mend trend was confirmed by new research conducted on behalf of national lender GE Money.

Its survey of 110 estate agents found that, even in a falling market, installing a new kitchen added on average 4.6% to the value of a property, while a new bathroom added almost 3%. Top of the home improvement lists was a loft conversion, creating an extra bedroom and even a bathroom, which added 12.5%.

Ian Goodwillie, managing director of family-owned Court Homemakers, which specialises in kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms, said: "The GE Money research confirms exactly what we are experiencing at present. People in the North-east are electing to improve the quality and lifestyle offered in their existing homes rather than put them on the market to move to a new house.

"We are still achieving the same sales figures as last year at this time, when fantastic mortgage deals were on offer and the housing market was still buoyant."

He said it was not surprising families were deciding to stay put.

"Homeowners have realised that if they are happy where they live, probably with their children in local schools and roots in the area, they don't have to incur the costs of solicitors, surveyors and estate agents to gain a better quality of living."

Raising finance for home improvements can also be easier and cheaper than raising cash against a new property, with banks and building societies more eager than most consumers might think to offer advances to existing customers, according to Darlington Buidling Society's David Copland.

"Home improvement offers an attractive route for owner occupiers to improve their living standards and the value of their property, without the upheaval of moving house. …

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