Luxury penthouse shows why it could pay to update Leeds city centre flats

The apartment boom in Leeds city centre came to a crashing halt in 2008 when the global financial crisis turned into a five-year recession.By that time, after a frenzied decade of construction, city living in Leeds was well established with the number of flats swelling from 600 to 11,000.Now, many of the properties built in the nineties and noughties are in need of updating and putting the effort in could be well worthwhile.The owner of a duplex penthouse in the high rise K2 building on Albion Street certainly believes so.He has just spent a considerable sum on modernising the property.

The K2 duplex penthouse after modernisation

Fresh look

While it has plenty of space, two parking spaces and breathtaking views from two 40ft south-facing balconies, he knew the decor would let it down when it came to saleability and price.He brought in award-winning interior architect Simon Milner-Moore of Blind Colour to carry out an extensive revamp.

The bedroom has a new look

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The result is a sensational, contemporary home that has just gone on the market with JLL with a price tag of £719,950.

The owners art work adds colour

Ian Darley, sales manager at JLL, has already shown interested parties round the property.He says that modernisation can yield impressive financial results for owners of city centre flats who put in the effort.His best example is a penthouse in Britannia House, Leeds. Flats in this development average £250 per square foot but the penthouse achieved more than double that after the interiors were updated.“It was done to a really high standard and, on the face of it, the owners had overspent. The property didn’t even have a parking space but it sold for £389,000, which was £475 per square foot,” says Ian.Another dated flat at Clarence Dock was priced at £337,000 with JLL last year and didn’t sell. Advised to modernise it, the owner spent money on new tiles and worktops in the kitchen, new flooring and a fresh coat of paint on the walls. It went back on the market and sold for £370,000.

Modernisation a must

Ian Darley believes that many of the city’s flats are in need of a refresh with kitchens, bathrooms, flooring and halogen lighting all dated.“A lot of the flats were bought from new by investors who were reluctant to reinvest during the recession. There’s also been wear and tear because they were tenanted so they are looking old and tired.“Anything that has been modernised and looks good tends to sell quickly. You might have to spend £12,000 on doing a property up but you would usually get that back and more because buyers will pay a premium for it.”JLL say that’s because the city centre property market differs from that in the suburbs and the country where buyers actively look for renovation projects.“People who are buying the flats to live in don't want a project. They don’t want the hassle of renovating in a city centre where they don’t have any contacts for tradespeople and parking is an issue,” says Ian.Investors too want an “oven ready” modernised let. And there are plenty of them, according to JLL, which rated Leeds as the UK’s top prospect for house price and rental growth in the UK. It predicts that house prices and rents in Leeds will grow by 17.1 per cent by 2023. Read more: price predictions

Investors target Leeds

“Property investors are really interested in Leeds city centre. They have done their research and see better growth potential than Manchester. Employment is high. Google, SkyBet and the big banking and accountancy firms have offices here and the retail sector is strong, plus we have staff coming to work at the hospitals. This all means that there is a big pool of young professionals who want to rent in the city centre,” says Ian. “At the moment we have investors from London and Hong Kong looking to buy.“They want apartments that are central, refurbished to a good standard and distinctive. This means the properties are future-proof for another 10 years and will command a good rental income from tenants.”Many investors would prefer a new-build but there is precious little to buy in the pipeline.The biggest apartment development schemes due to be constructed in Leeds city centre are build to rent.

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Expert advice

For those city centre apartment owners who want to invest in an update, Simon Milner-Moore suggests that, along with new kitchens, bathrooms and flooring, storage and lighting should be at the top of the to-do list.“They really matter, especially lighting. It’s something people forget but good lighting can make an enormous difference to the look and feel of a home” he says.Simon designed a fresh lighting scheme and linked it to a new Smart Home system when modernising the duplex penthouse at K2.He also spotted an opportunity to add extra square footage by converting a mezzanine area on the first floor into a usable space. It is now a large dressing room.The dated kitchen was replaced with contemporary units and Gaggenau appliances and the flooring in the open plan living space was swapped for herringbone laminate with a square of plush carpet inset in the sitting area .

The new kitchen. Picture Tony Johnson.

One of Simon’s most inspired ideas was cladding the old wood stairs in marble-effect Silestone and lighting them with inset lights.

The old wood stairs clad were in Silestone

He also replaced dated Travertine tiles with fashionable polished plaster in the shower room and smaller details, such as new door handles, have also made a difference.“He’s done a fantastic job in completely transforming the apartment. It looks amazing and is definitely far more saleable,” says Ian

For sale: K2 penthouse

The duplex penthouse at K2, Leeds, is on the market with JLL for £719,950,It has 1,680sq ft of space and two south-facing balconies with views of the city.The apartment, which has air conditioning, has a kitchen, utility room, a 39ft living and dining space, a bedroom and dressing room with ensuite, second ensuite bedroom, home automation and two parking spaces.Contact: 0113 205 3338,