Watch out! These simple things will devalue your house

It’s one thing to have your home clean and tidy when people come to view it, but can you really affect how much potential buyers will offer? The very simple answer is yes, absolutely.

Following the latest advice from the Government, estate agents are back up and running as of today (Wednesday) so there is no better time to start preparing your home for sale.

We Buy Property’s simple guide with expert property developer Tommy Hughes will give you the lowdown on how common seller mistakes could knock thousands off your property’s value and how to turn viewings into offers at asking price or more…

Kerb appeal

Think of your home’s exterior as the face of your sale. What might a viewer’s first impression be? You can help your house sale along no matter the season by taking these simple steps:

*Jet-wash your patios and driveways. If you don’t have one of your own, borrow from a friend or rent one for as little as £22 a day

*Ditch rubbish or broken garden furniture and invest in a cheap and cheerful new set. You want your buyer to picture themselves sitting there on a summer evening with a cold drink in hand

*Tidy the garden borders and plant a few new shrubs. A bit of colour in the garden goes a long way

*Clean your doors and windows

If you have a budget for landscaping, go for it. Whatever you spend on a professional garden makeover will add double the value. If you spend £10,000, the value of your property is likely to go up by £20,000.

Rip out old bathrooms

You want a potential buyer to come in, take a look and think: ‘Great, nothing to do here.’ If your bathrooms (or kitchen for that matter) are dated, they will devalue your property by thousands. But don’t fret! You can pick up a simple updated bathroom suite for as little as a few hundred pounds from online suppliers. Fitting costs will be extra, and kitchens will cost more, but expect your return on investment to triple. It’s well worth the spend.

Get energy-efficient

At a time when energy prices do nothing but soar year on year, it’s important for any buyer to know how good their new home will be at keeping the heat in. It’s a legal requirement for all UK property listings to come with an up-to-date EPC energy rating to let buyers know how energy efficient your home is. 

Solar panels are great for this, but they’re pricey to install and upgrade, and surveys have buyers can be put off by their aesthetics. However, there are many other things you can do to improve your property’s rating.

Old boilers, single glazed windows and poor insulation in the walls and roof will make buyers start knocking numbers off their offer – 5k to add double glazing, 5k to insulate roof and 3k to update the boiler – not to mention how undesirable the disruption will be.

If the buyer is debating between your house and the one up the road with a similar spec, the energy rating could make or break your sale, especially in a delicate market as finicky as ours. Buyers have had a lot to contend with – Brexit, the Boris Bounce and now Covid-19. Don’t give them any more reason to worry. Spent the money to upgrade, knowing it won’t be wasted – a good energy rating can boost your property’s value by 14 per cent.

Keep it neutral

We all love to put our own stamp on things, and nothing is more personal than how we decorate our home. But take a look around. Do you have loud wallpaper patterns, bright or dark colours on the walls? No doubt they’d redecorate over time. But OVER TIME. Whilst some buyers hanker after a doer-upper, many will want to simple move in without doing any work. Get rid of feature walls, opting instead for neutral tones and colours throughout the house. It’ll only cost you a few hundred at most to give the walls a new lick of paint, but it will be exponentially beneficial in securing offers.

Watch out for Japanese Knotweed

This invasive plant is fast-growing and shockingly strong. It can push through concrete, meaning it can cause structural damage to your property that can devalue your property by 100 per cent. Some mortgage lenders will refuse finance on a property with Japanese Knotweed in the garden, or even in neighbouring gardens.

Call in a specialist to remove it as soon as possible. It can be pricey (around £2000-5000) and slow to get rid of – taking anywhere from 8-12 months of monitoring to ensure it doesn’t come back.

Neighbours are not legally obliged to remove it from theirs, but they can be prosecuted for allowing it to spread. 

Planning permission and building regulations

Have the correct planning permission for any building work you’ve carried out for extensions and loft conversions. If problems are uncovered in the legal work, you may be able to purchase an indemnity policy for your buyer, but at worst you may be forced to pull down the building work.

Seller beware!

Local crime 

High rates of crime locally can impact property prices, but you can invest in good security measures like window and door locks, alarm systems and security lights front and back to help mitigate this risk for buyers.

Good school premiums 

According to a recent survey by Rightmove, parents in England are prepared to pay an 18 per cent premium to buy a home in the catchment area of an Ofsted-rated outstanding school. You can’t do anything about the location of your house or the schools around it, but it’s good to be aware of it, so do your homework.

Nuisance neighbours

If you’ve been unlucky enough to have one, you’ll know how hard it is living next door to a nasty neighbour. There are measures in place so you can report noise or air pollution to the council, but your solicitor will be obliged to disclose official disputes with neighbours during the sale process. If you can, always try to reach an informal and amicable solution before reporting your neighbour.

What does Covid-19 mean for the property market?

For months, Brexit and the wobbly state of British politics hit the property market hard. Should we sell? Should we wait? Those were the questions on every seller’s lips. 

The market was slow for most of 2019 as the uncertainty took its toll, with house prices increasing just 0.3 per cent in the last month of the year.

But following the General Election in December, and then Brexit finally happening – whether we liked it or not – things were on the up with stability in the economy at long last.

The number of house sales rose by more than 12% in January 2020, there was a spike in mortgage approvals, as well as an increase of buyer demand in the property market.

Unprecedented times

Then, as news of a novel and deadly coronavirus began to spread, the World Health Organisation declared a global pandemic. 

Boris Johnson announced the UK lockdown on 23rd March, grinding the UK economy to a halt. 

With strict social isolation measures and a nationwide lockdown in place, entire buying chains froze, throwing the property market into a position never before seen. Mortgage offers expired, wreaking havoc on chains all over the country.

Landlords were issued with warnings they were not allowed to evict tenants even if they failed to pay their rent.

Mortgage holders were able to access payment holidays to ease the financial strain, but many lenders put new lending temporarily on hold. 

Of course, staff were furloughed, many made redundant and the millions of self-employed saw their income disappear overnight, creating financial crisis for hundreds of thousands.

People were also advised not to move home, with removal firms ceasing most activity, too.

Moving past the peak

Deaths from Covid-19 increased almost daily, hitting a peak of 1172 in late April. 

But now, as the daily Covid-19 infection and death rates begin to slowly – and thankfully – trend down, the Prime Ministers and his team are devising a plan of action to ease the UK out of lockdown.

So, what does this all mean for the property market moving forward?

Data released for the first financial quarter is based on sales finalised before the lockdown began, therefore not giving us an accurate picture of the current state of the property market.

New figures that will be released later this month, or in early June, will give us a better snapshot of the property market during Covid-19 but until we know when the lockdown will end, uncertainty will hang over the property market like a black cloud.

Whatever the statistics, getting your home on the market is going to be more challenging than usual. 

Practical problems

Due to continuing social distancing rules, estate agents won’t be able to come to your home for a valuation or to take marketing pictures of your property for the foreseeable future. 

If your property was listed before this nightmare began, you won’t have had any viewers for many weeks for the same reason. Most people won’t risk buying a property without seeing photos or being able to visit. 

Knight Frank forecasts that UK prices will fall by 3% this year, then bounce back by 5% in 2021, in line with its predictions the country’s economy will shrink as a whole due to the impact of the pandemic.

Practical solutions

There is good news, though.

Our team at does not require a visit your property to complete our valuation. We have cash in the bank to buy your property outright, right now, meaning uncertainty in the economy doesn’t impact our ability to buy properties.

We’ll complete in a time frame to suit you too, meaning completion is possible in as little as two weeks, or as long as you need to get your next property lined up. We can even buy your property and rent it back to you until you’re able and ready to move out, giving you the upper hand as a cash buyer when the market gets moving again.

It sounds too good to be true but trust us – it’s not. You can read the details of our ethical and straightforward work here.

For more information, please get in touch with our experienced team who are on hand to talk you through your options. Like many companies, we’re working remotely to protect our staff, so drop us a line on and we’ll get back to you ASAP.

Tax, probate and mortgages

The death of a loved one is ranked the most stressful life event. Dealing with grief takes a huge toll emotionally and physically. But what happens when you combine that grief with the stresses of inheriting a property?

And what does it actually involve? The formal process won’t happen overnight, which in a state of bereavement, might feel like a blessing or a curse. But the drawn-out proceedings are in place for good reason…

The legal bit

If the property has a mortgage, you’ll need to contact the lender to inform them the mortgage holder has passed away as soon as you can.

If you’re the executor of your loved one’s will, this will be straight forward. If no will was left, the court must appoint one. You can apply for a grant of representation, which confirms your legal status and ability to deal with your loved one’s estate (a person’s property, savings, investments and belongings).

Probate – a legal process in the courts to deal with a loved one’s estate – can take up to a year whilst the will is verified, assets are sorted, debts cleared, taxes paid and beneficiaries (a person named to inherit in a will) are given their share of the rest, which might include a property.

The Government has warned that the Covid-19 pandemic may cause further delays in court proceedings, including probate. But you can start the process yourself now, or pay a solicitor or specialist to do it on your behalf.


Lenders usually allow a grace period and monthly payments on your loved one’s mortgage are typically frozen (usually the duration of probate). Be mindful that interest may still accrue in that time, so it’s worth checking what the exact details are, and what the lender expects from you now, and when probate is finalised.

Once the executor has settled any debts, taxes and legal fees are paid, probate will be complete, and the property will become yours with a notification to the Land Registry.

If there is still a mortgage on the house you’ve inherited, there are a few ways you can settle it.

· Use the life insurance policy of the deceased

· Sell their valuable items (e.g. jewellery, artwork, furnishings)

· Use your own savings

· Re-finance the property

· Rent it to a tenant

· Sell it on the open market

· Or, sell it quickly to a specialist company like ours

We buy properties in cash and can complete a sale in as little as two weeks – our average offer is 80 per cent of the current market value of the house. We’ll even cover your legal costs if you use our solicitors.

You can learn exactly how easily you can complete a property sale with us with confidence and ease here.


The amount of inheritance tax that will need to be paid during probate depends on the value of the estate. Anything under £325,000 and nothing will be due. Anything above is liable to 40 per cent tax.

e.g. if the value of the estate is £400,000, tax at a rate of 40 per cent will be due on £75,000.

That threshold increases to £500,000 if a home was gifted to the deceased’s children or grandchildren. This can include step, adopted or foster children.

Capital gains tax

If you sell the property you inherit as a beneficiary of a will, and that house increases in value between the time you inherit and sell, capital gains tax will be due on the profit.

Everyone has an annual tax-free capital gains threshold of £12,000.

If the profit (capital gains) is above £12,000, and you pay the basic rate of tax on your usual income, your capital gains tax will be 18 per cent.

If you are a higher or additional rate taxpayer, the rate of tax rises to 28%.

But, if you decide to move into the property and it becomes your main residence, no capital gains tax will be due when you sell it.

Income tax

This is only due if you start earning money on an inherited property, for instance, if you rent it to tenants. For more information, visit and search ‘death and bereavement.’

Dealing with probate issues can be a stressful process, but we’re here to answer any questions you have about selling a property to us for cash. Contact us on 0207 4499797 or

Why you might be refused a mortgage

To buy a home, you either need cash to buy it outright, or a mortgage from your bank or lender to help cover the cost.

In order to assess if you’re eligible for a mortgage, the lender will consider a number of factors including how much you want to borrow, your income, how much deposit you have, and over how long a term (years) you want to take the mortgage.

The loan will be secured on the property you buy so if you fail to pay it, the bank might eventually repossess it – take ownership – to recover your debt.

One of the best ways to prepare for a mortgage application is to understand the reasons you might be refused a mortgage in the UK in the first place.

Your credit rating

Every time you apply for credit (items like a loan, credit card, store card or finance for a car or furniture) a ‘footprint’ is left on your credit report. Your credit rating also takes into account your history of monthly repayments including if you were late or missed any.

You can use a credit checker like Experian to look at at your simple credit report for free, or pay monthly for a more in-depth analyses of your credit rating. 

Mortgage lenders will look at your credit history to help them figure out how much of a risk you pose financially – e.g. do you have a low credit score? Have you missed any payments? Defaulted on debt? Taken out multiple lines of credit? Declared bankruptcy or been subject to a CCJ (County Court Order).

Some or all of these may be taken as a sign you’re failing to manage your finances well. Each lender has their own special algorithm, so a good credit rating – whilst helpful – is not a guarantee of getting a mortgage approved.


  • Comb through your credit file and if there are any errors, report and request to fix them. Sometimes, companies make mistakes so it’s important to make sure everything in your file is correct. This will also help you identify any incidences of identity theft – when a fraudster has used your identity to obtain credit
  • Make sure you are registered to vote at your current address (on the electoral role) to help mitigate identify theft
  • The lower your revolving credit (how much unsecured debt you have) the better. Work towards paying off as much as you can, starting with the highest interest first. You could alternatively start with the lowest sums that you can pay off in one go to reduce the number of lines of credit you have and boost your credit rating a few points 
  • If your credit card or cards are all maxed out or you’re very near your credit limit, this will adversely affect your credit rating, even if you’ve never miss a monthly payment. Repaying only the minimum amount may also negatively impact your credit file

Your deposit

If your deposit is too little, you may be refused a mortgage. Whilst five per cent deposit schemes are available, usually, lenders give better mortgage rates for 10 per cent deposits or more.

What they’re looking for is the lowest Loan To Value (LTV possible). This is a simple ratio of how much you want to borrow, versus the price of the property. Having a bigger deposit means a lower LTV ratio and poses less risk for a lender if property prices start to decrease.

E.g. you have a deposit of £20,000 and want to get a mortgage of £180,000 to buy a property worth £200,000. That’s a 90 per cent LTV, as you have a 10 per cent deposit. If you increase that deposit to £30,000, your LTV reduces to 85 per cent and it will likely make a positive difference to your chances.

TIP: you can either take more time to increase your deposit, or you can apply to borrow less and reduce your house property budget. E.g. you still have a £20,000 deposit but you apply to borrow £160,000, giving you a total budget of £180,000 and a LTV of 88.9 per cent. You could also do a little of both – increase your despite whilst lowering your property budget and therefore the LTV. 

Your income

How much you earn and whether you’re planning a mortgage application on your own or with somebody else matters.

Usually banks look to lend a sole applicant a maximum of five times their salary, or three times for joint applicants.

Your mortgage application might be rejected if you apply for too much. You might also be turned down if:

  • You have recently become self-employed as lenders typically need at least two years of self assessment tax returns to get an idea of your income
  • You are on a temporary or zero-hour contract, or you have recently moved job and are in your probation period

If worst comes to worst and your mortgage application is rejected, don’t rush to apply elsewhere. This can adversely affect your credit rating and chances next time. 

Instead, talk to a financial advisor who may be able to help figure out where things went wrong.