Inkerman Terrace

The square footage factor – does price per square foot matter?

Kensington House external view - Does price per square foot matter?

Going back just a few years, estate agents gave potential buyers little more to go on than room measurements, a couple of photographs and a bit of flowery sales patter.

These days, buyers can view a property’s sales history, interactive maps, video walk-throughs and detailed floor plans. With all this invaluable information at their fingertips, people still seem to be hung up on price per square foot.

So does size matter? Seemingly, when today’s buyer judges a property’s asking price, square footage does matter – a lot.

Are you asking the right questions?

Despite numerous sophisticated advances in property marketing, one question crops up over and over again, from sellers and buyers alike. “What kind of price are you achieving per square foot?” We understand why people are asking, they always have and maybe they always will. However, for such a general question we can only give an equally general answer.

If we’re talking about properties in, or close to Kensington and Chelsea, they’re generally achieving between £1,000 and £2,000 per square foot. Exceptional cases may achieve up to £4,000, but that’s a rarity.

The thing is; what can anyone do with that sort of honest, yet incredibly broad piece of information? If you want to gain a more useful understanding of the space versus value thing, you’ll have to dig a bit deeper.

Many buyers, especially those in Europe or further-afield, who interrogate the asking price of a property based on average local square footage, always come unstuck. When we look into their calculations, more often than not, there are key factors that have been overlooked or ignored.

Beyond square footage

Square footage is just one of the many things that determine the value of a property. Just because a property two doors down achieves £X per square foot, it doesn’t automatically follow that yours will too. So what else should you take into consideration?

1) Condition

The condition of the property has a huge part to play. It may be in the same road, have the same square footage and view etc. However, if one property is dilapidated, whilst the other has been beautifully refurbished, inevitably the values will be totally different. Even the state of the front door and the colour that the outside walls have been painted can affect the value. 

2) Floor level

When valuing a flat or apartment, the level that it’s on will be of great significance. Nine times out of ten, a flat on the first floor of a period property conversion will be worth more than a flat nearby on a higher level with the same floor space. Period features, general desirability and ceiling height all influence the asking price. Ceiling height is particularly interesting and for this reason alone, a calculation based on cubic feet would give a more accurate figure.

3) What’s included?

Sometimes, when calculating the square footage of a property, landings, mezzanine areas and storage areas such as cupboards or wardrobe space are included. The question here is; should these be counted as valuable, primary living space or not?

4) Outside

Another anomaly that can come into play when determining the value of a property is outdoor space. Even though a garden, a roof terrace, or even a balcony will add to the overall usable ‘living space’ how should the value of that space be calculated?

5) Position

An average price per square foot for a particular postcode, or even a street is fairly pointless. One end of a street may have a particular reputation or be blighted by a busy adjacent road? Does the property have a south or north-facing orientation? Do trees block out natural light? Is the place you’re interested in right next to a bus stop? Everything about a property’s positioning needs to be taken into consideration.

6) Design and layout

For many buyers, the design and layout of the space will be the most important and deciding factor. 1,000 square feet, carefully thought through and expertly configured can give you a much better living space than 1,200 square feet of space that’s been carelessly designed.

Three simple questions

Before the days of floor plans, there were three simple questions that buyers generally asked themselves:

1) Is the property big enough for me and my needs?

2) Can I picture myself living happily here?

3) Will all of my furniture fit in?

So, if asking “what kind of price are you achieving per square foot?” is getting you nowhere, perhaps asking these three questions instead, will help you to find the home you’ve been looking for.

If you’d like to find out more about buying or selling in Kensington, Notting Hill or North Kensington, have a chat with one of our sales team on 020 7937 9976.

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