Airey houses are a type of prefabricated concrete house. Around 26,000 Airey houses were built in the UK between 1945-55 to address the shortage of housing after WWII.
Airey houses pose different challenges to sales of traditional homes. So, what’s the best way to sell an Airey house?
The best way to sell an Airey house will largely depend on whether PRC repairs have been carried out to an approved standard. Unrepaired Airey houses are best sold by auction, as you’ll have an audience of cash buyers and developers. If repaired, your best option is to sell with a local agent who has experience selling this property type.
In this article, we will explore the reasons why Airey houses are hard to sell and look at ways to improve your chances of achieving a stress-free sale.
We’ll also cover the best way to sell your Airey house based on the condition of the property and your priorities as seller.
So, is auction or the estate agency route right for you? Read on to find out…
Alternatively, skip ahead and take our free quiz for personalised advice on how to sell your Airey house:
1. Why are Airey houses hard to sell?
Airey houses were classified as “defective” following a review of non-standard construction properties carried out by the Building Research Establishment. This makes them hard to sell as, in their unmodified form, they’re effectively unmortgageable.
Homeowners at the time were given the chance to either:
- accept a 90% grant towards the cost of repairing the defect, or
- sell to their local authority at 95% of the defect-free value.
Not all homes were repaired under the scheme, and some Airey houses remain unmodified to this day.
The problems you might face trying to sell an Airey house will vary depending on whether your home has been repaired.
1.1 My Airey house has not been repaired…
It can be challenging trying to sell an unmodified Airey house.
You will be limited to cash buyers
Generally, mortgage lenders will not lend on defective homes, unless they are provided with evidence (in the form of a PRC Certificate) that structural repairs have been carried out in accordance with an approved PRC licence.
You will therefore be limited to cash buyers only. A survey by Knight Frank found that on average, UK cash buyers only made up 31% of all homebuyers in recent years.
This means you will have around 69% fewer buyers able to purchase your home. Unfortunately, cash buyers notoriously like to use their strong financial position to buy properties at a discounted price.
Airey houses can be expensive to repair
Many prospective buyers will be put off by the budget needed to repair the property to a mortgageable standard.
We spoke with Roy Gibbons from PRC Homes, who said the average cost of Airey house repairs is in the region of £60,000 - £80,000.
Repairs tend to take on average around 10-12 weeks to complete (weather dependent).
Although it is possible to live in the home whilst repairs are being undertaken, it isn’t advisable. Prospective buyers would have to consider alternative living arrangements and the costs associated with this if they are contemplating carrying out a full repair. Buyers may factor these costs into any offers they submit.
However, not all prospective cash buyers will be looking to carry out full repairs to Airey homes. Buy-to-let investors might instead choose to carry out more minor insulation repairs to improve the thermal efficiency of the home before letting the property.
Suitable buyers for unrepaired Airey houses do exist…the trick is knowing where to find them!
1.2 My Airey house has been repaired…
Even if an Airey house has been repaired, it can still be difficult to sell.
Repairs not up to standard
For starters, not all repairs are equal. Extensive repairs can be made to an Airey house without meeting the approved PRC licence standard.
This means that the property may not be mortgageable, and you’ll still face some of the issues associated with an unrepaired property.
External repairs to improve the overall look of the property will not be sufficient to satisfy mortgage lenders’ criteria. Any structural repairs must also deal with the internal load bearing columns and be approved by a PRC Structural Engineer.
Non-standard construction properties also carry a stigma with buyers and lenders alike.
Some buyers (and lenders) can find it hard to look past the “defective” label, even when full structural repairs have been carried out and approved.
This is unfortunate because, as Roy Gibbons from PRC Homes pointed out, an Airey home with a complete PRC certificate can actually be more durable than a standard brick-and-mortar home of the same age.
Buyers don’t always see it this way though. On dozens of occasions, I’ve seen buyers withdraw from purchases after conversations with well-meaning (but uninformed) friends and family members.
No one wants to make the mistake of buying a “money pit”. Buyers think it’s often easier to avoid non-standard construction houses altogether, rather than risk buying one and it going pear-shaped.
Estate agents can also make things even more difficult for you. I’ve had situations where estate agents are inexperienced in dealing with certain types of properties and end up inadvertently scaring buyers off.
This is why it is so important to pick an estate agent with knowledge of, and experience selling, Airey homes in your area. More on this below…
It can still be difficult to obtain a mortgage
Even when all the repairs have been made, and even if they’re made to the highest standard, not all lenders will be happy to lend.
Mortgage lenders favour houses built according to standard construction criteria. This is because of the perceived additional risks associated with a non-standard construction home.
Even if your property has been repaired to a PRC-approved standard, Roy Gibbons from PRC Homes flagged that you may still struggle to obtain a mortgage from some lenders if your neighbour’s adjoining property has not been repaired.
Prospective buyers are therefore likely to have concerns around the mortgageability of an Airey home, and might be put off or unable to buy because of this.
Locating the PRC Certificate
Finally, locating the PRC certificate can be its own challenge!
Understandably, PRC Certificates do get lost, but this can make an Airey house much trickier to sell.
Banks and building societies will not lend on an Airey house until they have seen a copy of the certificate. This can massively hold up a sale, and could potentially lead to buyers pulling out altogether.
If you find yourself in this position, all hope is not lost.
So long as the repairs were carried out correctly, companies like PRC Homes can organise a re-certification of your home.
An inspection of the property must be carried out by a PRC Engineer to establish the extent and standard of repairs carried out. Once the repairs have been approved, a new PRC Certificate will be issued to you.
It’s an additional cost to consider, but it’s much better than trying to sell without.
2. How to improve your chances of selling an Airey house
Although it might take longer to find a buyer, it’s not impossible to sell an Airey home. From picking the right estate agent to locating your PRC Certificate, there are things you can do to improve your chances of finding a buyer.
As with the challenges you’ll face, the things you can do to improve your chances of selling will vary depending on whether you’ve carried out PRC approved repairs or not…
2.1 Improving your chances of selling an unrepaired Airey house
The most obvious way to improve your chances of selling an unrepaired Airey house is to have those repairs carried out.
We’ve put together the pros and cons of carrying out a full-scale repair on an Airey house below:
Because the Government support schemes for Airey house repairs ended in the late-90s, you’ll need to find up to £80,000 yourself to do the repairs.
While the repairs can add significant value to the property AND speed up your eventual sale, there’s no guarantee that you’ll produce a buyer or recoup the money you’ve invested.
This is why, for most people selling an unrepaired Airey house, we recommend selling your property “as is” at auction. More on this in the section below…
To see if auction is right for you, take this free quiz we've designed for you:
2.2 Improving your chances of selling a repaired Airey house
If your Airey house has been repaired, there a few things you should do to improve your chances of selling:
- Locate your PRC certificate. As we explained above, most mortgage lenders will not lend on Airey homes unless they have seen evidence of repair in the form of a PRC Certificate of Structural Completion. Buyers are therefore likely to request a copy of the PRC Certificate, so make sure you have located it to prevent any hold ups and renegotiations on price. (Looked high and low but can’t find your certificate? Contact Roy Gibbons at PRC Homes, who will be able to help.)
- Pick the right estate agent. You want to make sure the agent comes across as proactive and motivated, has good knowledge of the local area and, most importantly, experience selling Airey homes. I would recommend choosing a local estate agent, as they should have a good understanding of how other Airey houses have performed in the area. Speak with your Airey-neighbours for recommendations. (And I’d suggest disregarding online estate agents, who are going to be much less familiar with the unique challenges an Airey house in your location is going to present.)
- Follow home sale “best practices”. As always, ensure your property is tidy and well-presented for photos and viewings. Price it realistically, and follow all the other best practices for selling your house with an estate agent.
These tips should improve your chances of achieving a stress-free sale.
Personally, I think the most important decision is how you sell the house. We cover the best way to sell your Airey house based on the condition of the property and your priorities as seller below…
3. What is the best way to sell an Airey house?
The best way to sell an Airey house will very much depend on two things:
- Has your Airey house been repaired to the approved PRC standard?
- Which do you value the most: a fast, more certain sale or achieving the best price?
3.1 Best way to sell an umortgageable Airey house
If your Airey home is unrepaired, I almost always recommend selling by auction.
Auctions offer a great balance between speed and price. Auctions can typically be wrapped up within 10-12 weeks, with a much greater deal of certainty than selling on the open market.
One of the main advantages of selling by auction is fewer fall-throughs. This is because buyers in traditional auctions are contractually bound to complete the purchase once the hammer falls and must pay a hefty deposit upfront.
Less than 1% of auction sales fall through after they’ve been agreed, compared to a whopping 25-40% of estate agency sales!
As we explained above, you will be limited to cash buyers as unrepaired Airey homes are generally unmortgageable.
Auctions tend to attract more cash buyers and experienced developers than estate agents do. They won’t be put off by a non-standard construction build.
Investors and developers will be at auctions looking for opportunities to add value and a solid return on investment.
Airey houses are often popular with investors looking for buy-to-let opportunities. This is because Airey houses tend to be on large plots and in good locations, and they don’t necessarily require a full-scale repair to be tenantable.
To find out more about the benefits of selling by auction, read my article “17 Benefits of Selling Your House By Auction (Including what real customers say)” here.
3.2 Best way to sell a repaired Airey house
If your Airey house has been repaired to the approved PRC standard, you have two options when it comes to selling.
The best one for you will depend on whether you would like to achieve the best price possible for your property, or if you value a faster, more certain sale.
Best price possible
If you want to achieve the best price possible, then selling with a local, recommended estate agent is the best option for you. As we said above, make sure to choose an agent who has a good understanding of Airey houses and how they perform in the local market. The last thing you want is an uninformed agent putting off potential buyers.
Note that estate agents will often over-value properties to try and win your business. To avoid this, make sure to get 2-3 valuations from different estate agents, and don’t just go with the highest one.
It can actually be more beneficial to set a realistic asking price. It only takes two or more buyers to spark a bidding war and drive up the price. So, set that asking price appropriately to increase your chances of getting more people through the door.
Faster and more certain sale
If you want to achieve a faster and more certain Airey house sale, then selling by auction is the best option for you. Selling by auction is also a good plan B if you are getting frustrated trying to sell on the open market.
As well as the advantages we listed above, selling by auction has the advantage of being a more likely sale than selling with an estate agent.
According to data from EIG, around 78% of properties that go to auction sell successfully. That’s a massive 27% higher than properties listed with an estate agent!
Auctioneers are also likely to have more experience dealing with non-standard construction properties than a lot of estate agents. Auctioneers can also price the property in a competitive manner to draw in as many interested buyers and increase the chances of sparking a bidding war.
Still unsure about the most effective way to sell your Airey house? Our 60-second quiz can guide you in the right direction:
If you need help deciding which auction house is right for you, the free quiz (above) can connect you with my #1 leading auction house in your area. Alternatively, check out my guide to finding the best auction house in the UK here.
By Matthew Cooper, Co-Founder of Home Selling Expert