Sellers – what could put buyers off or devalue your home?

When selling a home, there are a few things that arguably matter more than any other. One is getting enough demand and interest from buyers to actually get your home sold, while another is getting the best possible price for your property (and one that you believe is realistic and fair).

Both these things could be affected if there are aspects of your house that have would-be purchasers running a mile or seeking a discount off the asking price.

According to new research from Hammonds Furniture, noisy neighbours, pet smells, pebble dash, being near a pub and the notorious Japanese knotweed are some of the most undesirable features that would force buyers to change their mind or negotiate down the asking price.

As many homeowners rush to sell their properties to take advantage of the extra demand from the stamp duty holiday and both favourable buying and selling conditions, the research has revealed the features that buyers are looking for and the things they are looking to avoid at all costs. 

The two biggest things most likely to put a potential purchaser off a house are mould or damp on the walls (62%) and signs of a pest infestation (57%), which could knock a huge 20% off a property’s value. For a home with an average price of £250,000, that would be a massive £50,000 fall.

Mild cases of mould, which can be fixed with a dehumidifier and some mould-resistant paint, are unlikely to affect a property’s value too dramatically, but very severe cases can. Additionally, pests can cause considerable and extensive damage, in particular rats that are prone to chewing through electrics and wooden beams, which would of course need repairing. Some experts suggest, depending on the extent of the damage done, that you could be looking at a decrease in value of between 5-20%.

The above signs of disrepair and neglect will not only cost a lot of money to fix, they are also common and obvious ways in which buyers might be put off. On the other hand, a surprisingly large cohort of buyers said in the research that they are put off by features that can be quickly rectified.  

Some 33% of people, for example, would be deterred if a house had a messy garden, something which could again knock up to 20% off the value of a property. Meanwhile, nearly a quarter (24%) would look elsewhere if the house had ugly wallpaper.

Elsewhere, 19% of people said they would be turned off by holes in the walls from hanging pictures or paintings, while 37% of people said they would find pet smells off-putting. For 28% of buyers, a weak shower would make them reconsider a purchase.

There are also a number of things that are outside of your control as a seller which can prove to be detrimental to the asking price of your property. Almost four in 10 (39%) claimed they would think again if a property had a ‘messy looking’ neighbouring house, while nearly half (48%) would reconsider if they could hear noisy neighbours (48%).

A more surprising three in 10 people would dislike the thought of a pub nearby (32%), potentially because of the late-night noise this could create in certain areas. Less surprisingly, but still a bit oddly, some 14% would be put off buying a house if the road had a rude street name.

Some house buyers also said they would be deterred by features that many others might find attractive. For example, 10% said they wouldn’t opt for a property if it had a swimming pool or hot tub, while 13% said they dislike laminate flooring. 

You can see a list of the most off-putting features below. 

Off-putting features 
Signs of pest infestation57%
Old electrics/wiring50%
Japanese knotwee48%
Noisy neighbours48%
A messy neighbouring house39%
Pet smells37%
A bathroom with no bath34%
Very close to a pub32%
A weak shower28%
A messy garden28%
Stained/ripped carpets27%
Pebble dash  25%
Ugly Wallpaper24%
Holes in the wall from paintings21%
A rude street name14%
Bad Phone Signal24%
Laminate flooring throughout13%
A swimming pool/hot tub10%

(Hammonds Furniture)

What would buyers pay more for?

A garden tops the list of the things buyers would be willing to pay extra for. This space has taken on whole new importance since the pandemic and the various lockdowns this has triggered, which means almost half of all homebuyers (45%) now claim that they would pay more for outside space, closely followed by a garage (37%), a conservatory (31%) and a loft conversion (27%).

Just 15% of people say they would shell out more to be close to public transport – again, this seems likely to have fallen as a result of the pandemic and much less of a need to commute – while only 13% said they would pay more for a log burner and just 8% of people would be swayed by smart meters in the home.

It’s claimed that a nice-sized garden could add up to 25% more on a house price, especially if it’s well-maintained and is set up for summertime living. Driveways, conservatories and loft conversions (often used to create an extra bedroom) can also lead to a significant uplift in house prices.

The features most likely to increase a house price can be seen below. 

Outside Space (Garden) 45%
A conservatory31%
A loft conversion 27%
New windows24%
Solar panels23%
A swimming pool22%
Underfloor heating21%
Built in storage space18%
A basement17%
An attic17%
Close to public transport15%
Log burner13%
Open-plan living room13%
Smart Meters8%

(Hammonds Furniture)

The importance of presenting your house correctly

It’s typically not enough just to have a house with features that buyers like, and one that avoids all the things that puts them off, you also need to present it in the right way to give yourself the best chance of selling.

This is even more important in Covid times, as the majority of people now have their first viewing online.

Making sure your house looks fresh – with a fresh lick of paint doing wonders for a room if it’s looking tired – and ensuring any scuffs and marks have been dealt with can help your property to look its best before viewings, both online and otherwise.

It’s also important to give your buyer as much information as possible about the house and the general area. What are the running costs, the local transport links, the nearby green spaces, the council tax band, the recycling days, etc.

You don’t want to overload buyers with too much information, or useless information, but telling them where the nearest local convenience store is, or how to get to the local park in the quickest possible fashion, is likely to go down well. This is something your agent can relay in the virtual and then in-person viewings on your behalf.

Your advertising photos and description should be top-notch, you should stick to neutral tones where possible to give your property the widest appeal, and you should ensure your home has had a good spring clean before anyone visits.

Here at Chimneypots estate agents, we are doing all we can to help our clients during these uncertain times. If you require further guidance on selling your home successfully in South Coast locations – such as Southampton and Portsmouth – during the pandemic, please contact our team on 01489 584298.

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