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Buying a London Ugly Duckling Investment Property

Several of our clients are property developers who specialise in turning ugly ducklings into swans.  That is…. the seek out properties no one else wants, the ugliest house on the street that is surely beyond redemption and then focus on turning them into something special.

There is good reason behind this.

  1. The price of a property is determined by many things. Recent sale prices in the street, zoning, how suitable the house is for likely usage… but there is also an emotional bond that people make with a house. It’s much easier to recognise beauty in a home, than potential.  Ugly homes are always undervalued.
  2. If you are buying a property as a development property… you WANT it to be valued on the low side due to it being both unattractive in appearance as well as not very practical. Improve both and you are almost sure to see a big return on your investment.

Things to look for.


  1. Dated brick colours. Some brick colours are classic and almost never go out of style, others… well…. I scratch my head that they were ever fashionable and now out of fashion they are not just unfashionable they are an eyesore.  Concrete rendering a dated brick home is a fairly inexpensive way of turning a blonde brick blunder into a bell of the ball.
  2. Enclosed kitchens alongside dining rooms, enclosed dining rooms beside lounge / living rooms. Once upon a time she who cooked was to be kept hidden away in the kitchen, the kitchen being a place of preparation and a certain solitude.  Now?  What better way to keep the family together for longer during the day, or to entertain guests without everyone either crowing in the kitchen or having the host running backwards and forwards from the kitchen.Knock those dividing walls our(ensuring the property is left structurally sound of course)
  3. Remove those small, cheap windows. Small old windows have little to offer other than a claim to maintaining the “original style”  The are often noisy, poo insulators, gatherers of mould, and don’t offer the user the option to “tip” them to allow airflow whilst keeping children and pets from making an unwanted exit.Modern windows provide more light and far better amenity.  The more light/better insulation of modern window setups will add serious $$$ to the value of your property.
  4. Go up and down. That 1 story cottage surrounded by triple story mini castles?  That’s the one with the potential for land capitalisation that will bring the most value for your investment.  From an investment perspective there is little point in adding a 5th bedroom to a 4 bedroom home.  The increase in value, will be far less than adding a 3rd bedroom to a 2 bedroom home.  Go upwards, or downwards. Lofts, and cellar makeovers/refurbishments can turn an existing not very usable but existing cavity within your home into a useful, value adding space.
  5. The Old Stuff. Old carpet. Bad paint jobs. Old light fixtures and fittings.  Horrible, yuck bathrooms.  Ideally your ugly duckling will have all of these attributes.

When you buy the best house on the street, all you can hope for is asset appreciation when you onsell it.  If you buy the worst house on the street and fix it up?  First, you will increase the value of the property with the renovation, but then as your asset appreciates, this investment will multiply even more.

So stay away from those swans – it’s the ugly ducklings you should be on the hunt for.

Need help renovating your London ugly duckling property?

Contact Kroos today – we can help!

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