Period properties are paving the way

Period properties have been paving the way as homeowners opt for heritage and history. Emerging trends suggest that homeowners are looking to the past for property, and preferring period styles over contemporary builds. With the rise of TV costume dramas such as Downton Abbey and Victoria, new research conducted by the Wood Window Alliance highlights that period properties are experiencing a resurgence in sales. Historic houses are now some of the most sought-after on the market and their increasing scarcity creates appeal and therefore bankability – after all, period housing stock is a finite commodity.

Interior Designer Sarah Lathom, founder of Eton of Bath’s, an interior design agency specialising in period properties, said: “Thanks to an increasing awareness of the value and importance of period properties, we are seeing more examples of beautifully preserved and adapted homes. It is building the appreciation of the visual, financial and social values of having a period property. That understanding is improving all the time and that can only inspire the next generation of homeowners. Our passion and diligence today will pass on to the next generation.”

Protecting the period premium

Period architecture not only boosts the value of a house but makes it easier to sell, too. The desire for heritage means that people are willing to pay an average 11% more for a house with well-maintained period features.  This suggests that, in the eyes of a buyer, heritage trumps all other practical considerations such as the generally held belief that older homes are difficult to maintain and costly to run, thanks in part to a lack of modern insulation. 

Perhaps because of these outdated beliefs around energy efficiency, people are still settling for plastic in their homes despite more than half (56%) of homeowners saying that wooden window frames have the most character. In contrast,just 8% say the same of PVCu frames, yet almost half of those living in period properties have installed PVCu window frames.

Property prices have skyrocketed in the UK, meaning that people are looking to get the most for their money. Although often cheaper and coming with the assistance of ‘Help to Buy’ government schemes, modern homes retain a reputation for being poor quality which is hard to overlook. According to research by Halifax, it isn’t just the period style of the property itself which can add value, but the kudos and associated benefits of the area. Proximity of large estates and stately homes can add as much as 20% to the value of homes, thanks in part to the fact that they often sit within the same Conservation Area and as such will be afforded the same protection from future development.

Albert Hill, Founding Director, The Modern House says: “Just instinctively we know that something with character will sell easily. It is absolutely true that if we have something that is decorated or presented in a more anonymous style, then it is harder to sell. There has to be a story in there, something to create more engagement. Period features evoke the presence of people in the past, they evoke a history, they give a depth and a resonance. It just brings a real richness to a space. That really interests and excites people, so they are certainly willing to pay more for houses with a sense of history or character.”

Preserving the past in the face of the future

In a bid to protect British history and connect to a simpler time, there’s a growing desire for character in the home. 71% of homeowners agree that it is important to retain British heritage, and 80% believe that period buildings are the way to do this. When it comes to homes, 55% of Brits find a period property most desirable, while just 26% say the same of modern builds

But, perhaps contrary to expectations, it’s not just the older generation who want to ensure we remember our roots –74% of Millennials say it’s important to retain British heritage and more than half (58%) of Millennials find period properties the most desirable. As it becomes increasingly difficult for young people to get their foot on the property ladder, period houses in need of renovation are often seen as a solution – projects offer the potential not only to add their own stamp but also to make money further down the line. Add in the fact that period properties can often be in nice areas with a greater sense of community, and it becomes clear why they are such an attractive option to young families.

Putting the character into new builds

Regardless of whether they live in a period property or not, two in five homeowners like their house to have period character, such as lovingly restored original floorboards, beautifully crafted timber windows or original handcrafted stone fireplaces. One in four homeowners are bringing more vintage decor and furnishings into their home. This upcycling trend will continue, as people opt for unique pieces full of character over generic items from their local furniture shop. For those who don’t want to take the full leap into vintage and heritage aesthetics, there are small details they can include to hint at the past. Exposed floorboards in the living room and timber frames painted to match the interior décor can provide a beautiful window into the past while not compromising on functionality or practicality.

Sarah Lathom adds: “The Downton Effect means that period character has become hugely aspirational. So many people just love looking at the property and the interiors. There’s definitely more appreciation of artisan skills and craftsmanship. People are looking to salvage items, such as antiques or reproduction items inspired by original pieces.”

Chairman of the Wood Window Alliance, Tony Pell, says: “As an organisation which proudly blends both the past and the future – tradition and innovation – in the manufacture of high quality, beautiful timber windows, it is reassuring to see the value that is still placed on heritage when it comes in particular to our homes. The past can seem immaterial to some, but in fact our history and our heritage are the very things which provide our identity and beliefs to keep us grounded in this changing world.”

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