Renting means working an extra month

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To Let signsTenants spend an extra month paying their housing costs compared to homeowners according to Halifax research that shows that today, Sunday 12 May, is this year's Rental Freedom Day.

It takes UK tenants 132 days working to earn enough to pay their annual rent. Homeowners earn enough to pay off their mortgage a whole month earlier.

Waiting for Rental Freedom Day

Regionally, the North West was the first to achieve Rental Freedom (5th April) this year, just ahead of the North East (8th April), the East Midlands (13th April), and Yorkshire & the Humber (15th April).

The first southern region to achieve Rental Freedom Day will be the South East (17th May), but those in London will have to wait more than half a year, and more than two whole months after the first region for Rental Freedom Day (25th June).

Nationally, the earliest Rental Freedom Day occurs in Northern Ireland (27th March 2013) and was the only area to achieve this in March. For all the other home nations Rental Freedom Day doesn't occur until the second quarter of the year. In Wales the date is 11th April, just ahead of Scotland, where the date is 15th April.

Craig McKinlay, mortgage director, Halifax, says: "Housing costs are usually people's biggest outgoing every month, and our calculations show there is a significant difference between buying and renting. If you rent your home, then you will need to do about a month's extra work to cover the annual cost of renting compared to paying a mortgage."

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Renting means working an extra month

Of course with all these things, the value it adds depends on the property you have to start with, and the kinds of improvements you make, but Which? estimates the cost of a new kitchen at £8,000 and HSBC calculates the added value to your property at £4,500 - which is a clear loss.

This has been done by 41% of people in the last three years, and 29% of people plan it in the next three. It's cheaper than a kitchen, and Which? estimates the cost at £3,000. This is roughly the same value that HSBC says it will add to your property - so you'll break-even.

It may be difficult, but getting your property ready for sale means depersonalising it. 

Clutter can distract viewers and more than half (60%) of the property valuers who took part in the 2012 HSBC Home Improvement Survey said that the number one way to increase a property's chance of selling quickly, and for a good price, was to de-clutter.

This has been installed by 31% of us in the last three years, and 15% plan it in the next three. Installing central heating is a disruptive job, and according to WhatPrice it will cost you around £3,235. However, this is the first of the top ten to actually pay off. Property expert Phil Spencer says it will add £5,000 to the value.

A quick splash of paint can work wonders on tired-looking walls, and sticking to neutral tones is the safest bet.

Keeping the colour scheme simple, fresh and inviting will help potential buyers to see themselves living in your home.

Some 18% have added one in the last three years, and 30% will in the next three. This is another huge job, but with more people struggling to move and deciding to improve instead, it's increasingly popular. The amount it costs will depend on an enormous number of things, from the area you have to work with, to the size of the extension. However, assuming you add a single room you could spend around £20,000. HSBC estimates it will add around £15,500 to the value of the property, so you are unlikely to gain as much as you spend.

According to Halifax valuers, loft conversions - which require lofts with a roof height of at least 2.4 metres - are a good way to increase the potential sale price of your home.

Be sure to stick to your budget, though. The average loft conversion will cost between £10,000 and £30,000, while HSBC's figures show that they typically add £20,876 to the value of a property.

Putting in new windows adds around £5,265 to the value of the average property and can reap big rewards when it comes to energy efficiency.

It is, however, sensible to ensure that your new windows are in line with the style of your property to maximise the added value - particularly as putting them in can set you back about £5,000.

Off road parking or a garage can be especially advantageous in areas where parked cars line both sides on the street.

Nationwide's figures show that adding a garage, which can cost anything between £8,000 and £25,000, can increase the value of your property by 11%.

Outside space is just as important as inside - especially when people are seeing your home for the first time.

While 63% of the HSBC survey expert respondents said that repainting or varnishing a front door would make a difference, only 23% of homeowners recognised this. Peter Dockar at HSBC said: "It is often the smaller jobs like painting the front door that can make all the difference when looking for a sale."
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