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Will interior design give you a greater edge?

publication date: Jun 21, 2007
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interiorAs getting into the property ownership has become tougher for potential first time buyers, their expectations as renters have grown. Young professionals are increasingly choosy about their accommodation, looking for the perfect apartment to match their lifestyle – and finding plenty to select from.Properties let by private landlords are in competition with brand new complexes, sometimes expressly designed and fitted out for rental. With rents no longer as high as they were in relation to property prices, there is less slack. Thus, amongst the many issues for consideration buying and letting a property, the question of how to style it to the best effect has assumed a new priority.

Interior design expertise

It is obviously important to avoid the pitfalls of personal preference when it comes to refurbishing or furnishing a property and most landlords realise the need to dispassionately target their preferred type of tenant. Where a young professional is concerned, ‘modern and stylish’ are key considerations but without the necessary creative experience, applying the concept may come down to guesswork, quite possibly resulting in costly mistakes.

This is just one reason that landlords are turning to interior designers. Until recently, interior design services were seen as the exclusive domain of developers and seasoned professional landlords. Yet the persuasive power of the well-furnished show home is widely recognised, and, inspired by TV makeover programmes, even homeowners keen to maximise sale prices are getting in on the interior design act.

Inspired interior design can clearly provide a competitive edge. And given that a large number of landlords today are also holding down full time employment, the need for professional support has never been greater, creating a new market for “packaged” design services.

The benefits of design consultancy

Good interior designers have experience and access to the latest designs and styles. A design professional can ensure that properties appeal to the target tenant and take care of project management to ensure that all furniture and furnishings are delivered together.

Founded sixteen years ago, Hertfordshire interior design consultancy M & Y Interiors typifies how the market for landlord design services has grown. A few years ago, the bulk of the company’s commissions were from corporate property developers and private clients set on improving their own homes. But today buy-to-let landlords are just as likely to call on M & Y’s expertise.

According to M & Y’s Nigel Stanley, “As the expectations of tenants have grown, landlords have come to realise the importance of dressing the interiors of their properties appropriately. They appreciate that the ‘wow’ factor can save money over time, simply by attracting more viewings and a better calibre of tenant. Landlords are also surprised at how cost-effective it is to work with us because we know how to get things done quickly. After a simple briefing, they can leave everything in our hands. Focusing on the property, we can be relied upon to create a stylish interior, working to the landlord’s budget and deadlines at all times.”

Packaged services

Working with a designer need not necessarily be costly as there are services to cater for every brief and budget. Contract furnishing solutions, covering everything from furniture to bed linen, are proving a popular timesaving option with landlords.

Nigel Stanley explains, “We pride ourselves on always using good quality furnishings to provide a great look and excellent value for money. We have assembled four furniture packages, plus a bespoke package, to provide everything for a furnished property with costs to suit every client’s budget.”

“We also provide a made-to-measure service for curtains and blinds, as well as supplementary packs, such as kitchen utensils and crockery. For landlords keen to let their property as quickly as possible, these packs can be the ideal way to go.”

A sound investment

Naturally landlords need to ensure that any service they pay for will ultimately help to maximise rental yields. When it comes to outlay on design, using an interior designer can minimise expensive mistakes that are made due to inexperience or lack of time. Companies offering furniture packages should also be able to reassure landlords that they buy products at a trade cost and so are able to sell them to the client at normal retail prices.

Perhaps the most important consideration of all is choosing an approachable interior design company. Consultancies should volunteer a clear breakdown of costs, clarifying how design fees are calculated and whether prices include commission and delivery. Finally, it is worth asking for a free initial consultation, which will provide an opportunity to assess their service.