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.