Q. I live in what was a very large Edwardian three bedroom house in Edinburgh. At some point - probably the 1960s, all three bedrooms were divided. It is rather an ugly solution, but has created six rooms that can just about described as doubles. The property would be a lot more attractive is the dividing walls were taken down - do you think that there is any sense in doing this before I place the house on the market.
A. Presentation, always highly important when marketing property, will become absolutely crucial in 2008 and, perhaps beyond, in all sectors of the market. This includes prime Edinburgh locations where, up to now, houses in various states of repair have had little or no difficulty attracting buyers.
High-end borrowers, in particular, will be affected by the credit crunch; this means that even once-favoured Edwardian villas will be competing in a decreasing market. Therefore, I would strongly suggest that you take down the walls of the subdivided parts of the property and return it as much as possible to its former glory. This time last year, the current condition of the property would not have mattered as there would have been no shortage of buyers keen to carry out the alterations themselves – and still pay you a good price. This type of buyer is now likely to be squeezed, and if so, your market will be reduced to those owner-occupiers who want a property to be in a move-in condition.
Also this time last year, I might have said carrying out the alterations was advisable to get the best price; now I would contend that these alterations are absolutely crucial if you want the property to sell at something other than a knock down figure.
David Alexander is proprietor of D.J. Alexander, the Edinburgh- and Glasgow-based firm of estate and letting agents.
_The Sunday Times, 9 March 2008_