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Converting The UK High Street

Posted by Arthur Brown on December 14, 2017
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New research from the Federation of Master Builders has said that converting empty spaces above shops could help reverse the current housing shortage in the UK. Up to 400,000 new homes could be created by converting these empty spaces! Easy access to the high-street and transport links would be of real interest in towns such as Altrincham, Sale and Didsbury as well as the whole of the UK.

‘There is space just waiting to be turned into residential accommodation. The fact that 90% of MPs of all parties recognise the potential of our existing buildings to help solve the housing crisis means we need to be more imaginative if we are going to build the 300,000 homes a year that the Chancellor pledged in last month’s Budget,’ said Brian Berry, FMB Chief Executive.

This untapped market has been seen by government officials with 94% of MPs believing it could reverse the shortage of homes in their constituency, 89% say it could boost local growth and 86% think it could have a positive impact on town centres.

Contrary to the belief of the MP’s and the FMB, Richard Morea from London & Country Mortgages stated that ‘‘lenders are always guided by the surveyors’ comments: Not only to the condition and value of the property, but also to the marketability’’. With marketability limited due to it being above a shop, ‘‘the lender may restrict the amount of the purchase price they will lend, or even decline to lend at all’’.

We believe young couples are willing to consider units over shops for convenience, they are also generally in prime town centre locations and are more attractive since they often come with a slightly lower price tag. Therefore, lenders will need to catch up with these desirable units and realise they are often highly desirable and convenient. For the owners of these properties conversion will also bring higher rental yields; residential property is in higher demand than commercial units and is often worth more, so whether renting or selling the current owner will benefit.

These empty spaces above shops are a real opportunity to make use of space that is otherwise useless. With 300,000 homes due to be built in the coming year, it may be worth looking at dormant spaces within towns or cities which are ripe for conversion.

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