As many as 12.5m households across the UK have regrets about the property they have chosen to buy or rent, according to newly released data from Homeowners Alliance.
The survey shows that apart from location and number of rooms, home buyers and renters focus on what they regard as important physical characteristics such as large enough rooms (66pc), a garden or private balcony (57pc) and good natural light (46pc).
Nonetheless, 42pc of home buyers and 52pc of renters regret overlooking particular features of the property they selected to rent or buy. Of these, 25pc paid little attention to storage space, 21pc to maintenance and repair, including the condition of the roof, heating, electrics, insulation and damp, and 21pc to noise caused by traffic or neighbours.
On the bright side, 77pc of UK adults say they are satisfied with their homes, an important factor for people’s well-being as the order to stay at home continues during the lockdown.
The research showed that owners (87pc) are more satisfied than renters (63pc), more than half of whom (52pc) have regrets. Older home owners, age 55+, are the most content with their home (91pc) and the least likely to have regrets (36pc).
Conversely, younger home owners aged 25-34 are the least satisfied, with only 79pc saying they are happy with the home they bought.
Lockdown is causing mental health issues
Paula Higgins, Chief Executive of Homeowners Alliance, comments that having to stay at home 24/7 is causing many home owners to reconsider their choice of property, and that factors which were considered unimportant initially have since become a thorn in the flesh.
The research, she said, shows that although buyers and tenants generally make the right major decisions when choosing a home, it is often the seemingly more mundane features which tend to be overlooked, such as the condition of the roof and boiler and how well insulated the property is.
While these issues can be tiresome and expensive to remedy, they can also become a nagging source of anxiety and distress if ignored.
Alex Depledge, CEO of Resi.co.uk says that as people are spending much more time at home, it’s becoming increasingly clear that their homes greatly influence their happiness and mental health.
If some are dissatisfied with their home, there are changes that can be made because it’s not the size of the home that’s important but what can be done with the space available.
Despite the restrictions of lockdown, Mr Depledge added, both owners and renters can improve the layout of their home by adding smart storage solutions and ingenious features such as study alcoves and living walls which, he says, are guaranteed to increase satisfaction with the home.
Six factors to consider when viewing a property
Mr Depledge recommends six factors which should be considered when buying a property. The first is to invest sufficient time in viewing a property which may be lived in for a generation and will be the biggest investment in many people’s lives. And to take a checklist which is available on the website.
Once a suitable property has been found, consider storage space, the lack of which can prove to be the source of greatest regret. Is there somewhere you can store the vacuum cleaner, bathroom items and linen and towels? Or is there room for shelves or cupboards to be built in?
When viewing a property, consider background noise and how much it bothers you. Stand and listen, revisit at different times of the day, open the windows, and sit inside and outside. Can you hear the people next door talking or their TV? Is the traffic noise from the ‘excellent transport links’ acceptable to you when you sit outside?
Decide if the rooms are large enough, well laid out and will suit your lifestyle and furniture. An L-shaped room, for instance, may look unusual and attractive but can be difficult to furnish and you may come to resent the wasted space as your family grows.
Future-proof your home
It is worth obtaining a building survey if only for your peace of mind. When viewing, look for issues you would like the surveyor to report on, such as the condition of windows, loose guttering, cracks in brickwork and missing tiles.
Finally, ensure the home you buy is future-proof, one you can live in comfortably for years to come. Moving house is an expensive business as legal fees, stamp duty, mortgage fees and removals have to be paid in addition to the cost of the property.
As working from home looks set to continue, adaptability and room for a home study will very likely be high on people’s wish lists once the pandemic is over.