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How to Beat the Housing Slump

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You may have spent every bit of spare cash on it over the years, and you’ve probably lost lots of weekends and holidays working on it, but the chances are very high that your home is now betraying you, by dropping thousands of pounds off its value. So how do you get the darn thing to repay some of that time, money and effort?
  1. If you have the space, renting out a room can be a useful form of income. This option particularly suits parents whose children have grown up and fled the nest. Obviously it is important to vet any lodgers carefully but the fact that you can earn £4,250 from your room before being taxed more than compensates for the legwork involved. If you live in a city or a popular commuter belt, catering for professionals by renting the room out from Monday to Friday is a realistic option. Charging about 60% of the full week’s rent is normal for this option. Visit websites such as spareroom.co.uk and mondaytofriday.com cater for this growing market. If you live near somewhere where there is a regular festival or sporting event, your spare room is almost guaranteed to bring in some extra income as a temporary bed and breakfast. Register your home with event organisers so you can get on their accommodation list but you will need a health and safety check and fire certificate.
  2. If you live in a high density, high-value city such as London, creating and renting out a basement flat could be an option. Many Georgian and Victorian houses already have a basement and many other types houses will be ripe for the conversion. This won’t come cheaply of course; one estimate from Move or Improve magazine suggests converting existing space will cost £2,000-£3,000 per square metre and possibly double that if you’re having to dig out a new basement area. In the right location though, the rewards could be lucrative; you have the option of renting or selling the basement flat and (if things are really tight) even living their yourself whilst renting the rest of the house out. One final word of warning; if you request planning permission for a separate flat rather than an extension to your home you’ll end up paying two lots of council tax.
  3. One type of holiday that is gaining in popularity in these hard times is the holiday house swap. It certainly makes sense if your home is well situated within striking distance of popular tourist haunts and you’ll be certainly glad you did when you’re sitting in a Parisian apartment or losing yourself in the Tuscan countryside. For more details on such swaps there are several specialist websites available; homxchangevacation.com, homelink.org.uk and homeexchange.com are examples.
  4. Utilities are a big strain on financial resources. With energy prices rising at phenomenal rates there has never been a better time to fit the likes of solar panels and a wind turbine. These systems can cost several thousand pounds but in the long term, they will pay for themselves - especially seeing as you have the option of selling excess energy back to the utility companies. Less glamorous methods include fitting a combi-condensor boiler, insulation and draught proofing. A water meter is very unlikely to save you money if you are a family. To see if you qualify for a “green” grant go to energysavingtrust.org.uk.
  5. Parking is at a premium in most towns and cities, so if you have an outdoor asset such as a spare parking space, why not rent it out? See specialist websites such as yourparkingspace.co.uk and letmepark.com. This can also apply if you are lucky enough to own the likes of a swimming pool or a tennis court. Also, if you have a picturesque garden along a popular walking route you can bring in an extra income by serving afternoon teas to them in the summer. Cut flowers, herbs and organic vegetables from your garden can also be a valuable commodity; see bbcgreen.com on how to get started.
  6. Depending on how photogenic your home is, you may be able to rent it out to the media. Film companies, advertising agencies and magazines are all looking to film or hold photo shoots in the right locations. Pimping out your home for a day to such agencies could net you a cool £500-£3,000. Large open plan properties in London are obvious favourites but, who knows - your house could be just what they’re looking for. If this sounds like an attractive proposition visit websites such as uklocations.co.uk, fresh locations.com or shootfactory.co.uk.