Here at Property Investor Today, we recently caught up with David Conlon, the founder of en masse bespoke interiors to ask him some questions on behalf of our readers.
Below, you'll find out the interiors expert's thoughts on investors' attitudes towards interiors, the most cost-effective rooms to renovate and whether the Covid-19 pandemic will affect tenants' needs when it comes to homeworking...
What are the most popular types of interiors for investors, in your experience?
The most popular styles of interiors are those which are completed to a high standard. It is less about trends or fancy finishes, but rather, clean lines, great paint finishes, well sort out sockets, flooring that fits and flush finishes that keen investors and buyers will be looking for.
They will want to know things have been done right the first time, that they will not be having to stick skirting boards back on or fix loose tiles anytime soon.
The other key factor is to ensure everything that has been chosen is serviceable. For example, if you are going to let the property, everything can be easily refreshable for the next client. Are there LED light fittings which will last forever? If there are integrating appliances, can you get to them for servicing purposes?
Will home offices now become more important to buyers in high-end residential projects, given the inevitable increase in home working? How can a home office be made comfortable and relaxing?
Absolutely, we are already seeing new clients coming in and asking for home offices.
It is important that the home office is fitted out within the same vein as the home, not as a separate entity. You can still create a natural flow within the office that leads into the rest of the home.
If you are lacking in real rooms, screens can segment off a space, but this is a key thing to consider when buying your next property if you are going to be working from home.
Will a screened off area feel enough like an office? Or will you need a more traditional layout with a physical study or even room in the garden for an outside office?
If you are using a separate room, then still maintain the theme and feel of the rest of the home. This can be achieved through cabinetry, windows, lights, and flooring so that it does not feel totally separate.
Ergonomic furniture does not have to be ugly, there’s amazing stylish and comfortable furniture that will make a feature of the space. And do not discount how much storage you will need, even if it’s just so you can add plants and store books.
With more people spending time at home, will the interiors of a property - and how they make people feel - become more important than ever?
Definitely, we’ve never spent more time at home and having been there for a much longer period of time, we now know what works and what doesn’t work and what we really need and want from a home.
Clients are also happier to invest more in their kitchens and living space as they have become so essential to our lives from being an area for the kids to do their schoolwork to the new home office.
The same with bringing the outside in, creating a space that allows you to benefit from any outside space you have is high on the list for new buyers and developers.
Are interiors something property investors focus on - a possible deal-breaker - or are they much less fussy?
Finances play a huge part in that decision. If you are viewing a property that needs an entire refresh with a new kitchen and bathroom, then that work needs to be accounted for in your offer.
If you are looking at a property to invest in, the location and state of the building will be far more important to you than the state of the interiors, as that can easily be changed.
For a buyer, it can be more personal as some simply will not want to move in and have to do work, they’ll want it turnkey ready. For others, they want to make their stamp on it so they can see the potential.
We always advise to stay neutral where you can, use the best quality materials available to you and invest in finishes that last.
Buyers will notice the finer details and most importantly the finish, never scrimp on the finish of your interiors.
Which are the most cost-effective rooms for investors to renovate before letting their property?
Entrance ways or living spaces would be much cheaper than the refurbishment of a kitchen. However, a kitchen can be what sells the property and makes it appealing for rent or purchase.
Where it may seem like you are investing heavily in one room, the rest of a property can be tidied up with a lick of paint and the same flooring throughout.
The kitchen and bathroom need to be in good order and built to last, particularly with rental properties.
Install a cheap kitchen at your peril, you will only end up replacing it, fixing poor fittings, and trying to cover up chips.
In your experience, what are the most popular home/furniture features with millennial renters?
Breakfast bars or peninsulas, bifold doors, integrated storage for bedrooms and a home office.
Eco-conscious appliances and interiors should also be high on the agenda. A sustainable wooden floor, for example, will last the life of the property. A grade appliances and renewable heating technologies are also appealing.
Fitted wardrobes and storage are also a great investment. Not only will they offer a sleek hidden approach to the room, you also will not chip the walls trying to get furniture up and down the stairs.
How should investors approach the interior design of a property for long-term tenants?
Build and decorate it to last. Do not scrimp on your finish, use quality materials, and stay neutral so that your tenant can adapt the space with coloured soft furnishings.
Open-plan also works well and consider lighting which should be zoned and dimmable if possible. If your goal is a long-term tenant, think about what would really make the property feel like a home.
A kitchen that does not fall apart, a bathroom that functions and is easy to keep clean and flooring which does not stain easily or can be re-finished and refreshed are all key.
In your opinion, should investors let tenants decorate their properties within reason?
Communication with the agent/landlord is key here. Decoration is fine, if it is done properly and to a good standard and always with consultation from the landlord.
It also depends on if you have a long-term tenant, or if it is a short-term let. You do not want to be having to refresh and repaint multiple times, especially if they have chosen a dark colour which cannot easily be changed.
Some changes may be welcomed by the landlord and could even be an investment whereby the landlord could consider contributing to the cost, a change of flooring for example.
By keeping to a neutral base in the first place to a high standard, you can usually avoid the tenant wanting to make too many changes.