Charities have been urged not to delay refurbishments to their properties, despite concerns over the market post-Brexit.
Today at the Charity Property Conference 2017, hosted by Civil Society Media, speakers discussed how the vote to leave the EU last year had hit the value of UK properties and created uncertainty over whether the market would improve in the coming years.
Specific issues around refurbishments were also raised, including a hike in prices due to a shortage of construction workers, plumbers and electricians to undertake refurbishments of properties.
However, many speakers urged charities who could afford to refurbish properties in need of renovation not to wait for the market to pick up.
Jonathan Vanstone-Walker, director of property firm TSP, said current low rates of lending combined with increased rental values made a “particularly compelling case” to refurbish a property now.
He discussed how charities he worked with were increasingly looking to renovate their properties in order to let out a portion of it and gain an extra revenue stream.
Vanstone-Walker said: “I think as funding has become so constrained, those organisations that own buildings and have excess space are really starting to question if they are really getting best use for it.”
Trustees, he said, had a tendency to suggest selling a charities’ properties during financially restricted times but he advised renovating and renting out as an alternative.
He said: “You’ve got this asset and you know long-term property does well so why should you sell it? I think this is a really good way of being able to hold on to that asset.”
At an earlier discussion, Fostering Network finance director Geoff Wilson asked a panel of experts whether his organisation should renovate a property in need of it or “hunker down and live with it” for a few years.
Alex Baily, portfolio director at Cazenove Charities, said in response: “When you have got the ability to do it, you’ve got to carry on investing in your real estate, whether that’s in your building or generally.
“Where things go wrong is when you stop doing those investments because you are trying to tighten your belt because you think that actually I don’t need to do it this year. And what ends up is you actually get hit by a bigger bill when you just don’t want it three or four years down the line.”
Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Foundation, concurred, saying that while prices of refurbishments were high due to a shortage of construction workers, plumbers and electricians, the situation was unlikely to improve in the foreseeable future.