In response to the housing crisis, developers in cities are buying empty office space and turning it into tiny flats. But would you be prepared to sacrifice space and buy micro-home for getting on the property ladder?
An Englishman’s home may be his castle, but for an ever-growing number of buyers, that may mean a property less than 37 square meters – or the size of a tube carriage.
Technically, properties should meet minimum space standards of 37 sqm for a one-bedroom home. But since the government relaxed planning regulations, developers in cities like Liverpool, Leicester, Oxford and Croydon have been buying up office space and converting it into many tiny flats.
Work place to living space
Only this week, housing developer U+I announced a range of homes with floor sizes of either 19 or 24 sqm, to be built in blocks with shared communal areas in nine inner London boroughs.
The developers say the flats would be available under the London Living Rent scheme, where tenants pay rent that is a third of the average household income for their borough. Fortunately for prospective buyers, these homes use space in a fairly intelligent way through compact kitchens, flexible furniture and clever storage solutions.
This property by Inspired Homes – which boasts a separate bedroom – has just 31.5 square metres of floor space:
Our research, published last month, found that 8,000 homes smaller than 37 sqm were built last year in the UK, the highest number on record. Meadow Residential, meanwhile, plans to convert an office block in Barnet, London, into flats – some of which are just 16 sqm in size.
However, our data also suggests they don’t grow in value like their larger counterparts, and might not necessarily make a sound investment.
One reason may be due to ‘mortgage-ability’: two of the country’s biggest high street lenders, RBS and Nationwide, said they wouldn’t lend on properties smaller than 30 sqm. Yet for many young people desperate to get on the housing ladder, a headache-inducing process in and of itself, they represent a more affordable option than regular-sized homes.
In 2016, properties smaller than 37 sqm cost just £279,000 in London, compared to the capital’s average price of £580,000.
Would you be prepared to sacrifice space to own a home close to the centre of the UK’s largest cities? Or are you put off by the prospect of a fold-up bed? Let us know your thoughts.