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Revealed: top six property turn-offs

Regular readers of Nethouseprices columns will recall that we have an occasional series looking at factors which can affect your house valuation. In recent months, for example, we have considered such issues as your home's proximity to a great state school, access to a transport hub, local air quality and the availability of superfast broadband, as well as features which are more intrinsic to the property like décor and maintenance. In this issue, we turn to the findings of new research by NAEA Propertymark, which revealed the top six turn-offs for house-hunters. We conclude by analysing the surprise effect that being a single person can, according to one property guru, have on the selling price of your home.

NAEA Propertymark study

NAEA Propertymark, formerly the National Association of Estate Agents, is the UK's principal professional body for estate agents and, as such, its public pronouncements about housing matters are regarded as being highly reliable. There was, accordingly, wide media coverage of the organisation's revelations about the six most commonly cited reasons for which prospective buyers reject properties. These are:

1. Solar roof installations

At first glance, this point seems somewhat counterintuitive. Solar panels can, after all, save energy costs, so would seem to be a boon to any family. They are certainly more environmentally-friendly than their fossil fuel counterparts, which is apparently the key government rationale for offering help towards installation expenses. It would seem, however, that only a limited subset of homebuyers is especially concerned about environmental issues and that, for the remainder, the potential energy costs savings of solar panels don't compensate for:

- how unsightly they are perceived as being
- the fact that the technology is expected to evolve, meaning that existing installations will need replacing sooner rather than later.

Over half a million homes in the UK have been fitted with solar panels, but the rate at which the apparatus is being installed across the country has tapered off dramatically during the past few months. This slowdown has largely been attributed to the government having slashed the subsidies available to people wishing to take up the technology. Maybe savvy householders are also concerned that any financial gains they make from solar power will be lost when they come to put their property on the market?

2. Swimming pools

Associated as they are with luxury and affluence, you could be forgiven for assuming that houses with swimming pools on the grounds would sell at a significant premium. Not necessarily so, according to NAEA Propertymark. While they can provide fun and exercise, pools are expensive to maintain and - a crucial question in in Britain - can realistically be used only when the weather is cooperating. In other words, for many potential buyers, they are simply more trouble than they are worth.

3. Dark spaces

This is probably a more familiar complaint. Essentially, buyers are put off by dark and dingy rooms. To keep your house valuation intact:

- you should refresh any tired and gloomy decoration with lighter colour schemes.
- it is always worth decluttering, too, because tidier rooms can seem brighter and more airy.
- strategically placed wall mirrors can create an illusion of space and light.
- trim back any trees or shrubs in your garden which are prone to obscuring the windows and limiting the natural light coming into your home.
- dimmer switches allow buyers to view your rooms as they appear when they are brightly lit and when the lighting is more subdued and atmospheric.

4. Over-personalisation

While you live in your home, you are perfectly entitled to make it reflect you and your tastes. If your interior design idiosyncrasies run to extremes, though, they can be hugely off-putting to prospective buyers, who will struggle to envisage living in your property. Estate agents recommend that, prior to marketing a house or apartment, you tone down any overly busy, ornate or gaudy decoration, replacing it with a more neutral, natural régime. In home styling parlance, this offers viewers a blank canvas onto which they can imagine putting their own imprint. A ruthless declutter will also help you to remove excess personal effects.

5. Planning issues and building regulations

Buyers dread being embroiled in property disputes and being held accountable for other people's mistakes. Accordingly, if you have had major works carried out on the premises, make sure that you have the documentation at hand to prove that you sought and received the relevant planning permission and that the project was conducted in accordance with UK building regulations. The absence of this paperwork could scupper a deal.

6. Japanese knotweed

This weed is becoming much more prolific throughout the UK. Quick-growing, it can undermine your house foundations and cause subsidence and other serious structural problems. Banks and building societies often refuse home loans secured on properties which are affected by Japanese knotweed, meaning they are extremely difficult to sell. If you detect the plant in your garden, you should take immediate steps to remove it. The Royal Horticultural Society offers the following advice: https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=218.


You can find out whether your property is in an area where the weed is common at: http://www.planttracker.org.uk/map/knotweed. See also the relevant government guidance at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/prevent-japanese-knotweed-from-spreading.

Being a single person

Independent buying agent and media property commentator, Henry Pryor, was reported in several newspapers as having said that, when he views properties for clients, he is looking at more than the number of bedrooms and the decoration. He is also seeking out indications of the seller's pressure points or motivation for moving. So, if he spots just one toothbrush in the bathroom or an open closet containing just enough clothes for one person, he will wonder whether the vendor is going through a separation or planning to move in with a partner and is therefore motivated to sell up as quickly as possible. This insight, he adds, will enable him to make an offer which is lower than the asking price. As infuriating as this might be to "singletons" everywhere, it might be worth buying another toothbrush and borrowing some extra clothes before a viewing, so that a canny buyer cannot use your marital status to try to reduce the selling price!

We hope you have found this feature interesting. Visit the team here at Nethouseprices again soon for more news about house prices in the UK, as well as for our other services, including our free instant house valuation tool.
 

Source: Nethouseprices.com 09.10.17

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