What’s the first thing to do when you’re considering selling your home? Find out how much it is worth, of course. This is where you would ask an estate agent with a good insight into the local property market to give you an up-to-date market valuation.
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Bear in mind, though, that the figure the estate agent will come up with is not so much a formal valuation. It’s more of a suggestion of what they think the property might fetch if you put it on the market – and this is where problems can easily arise.
Estate agents competing for your instruction may be tempted to overestimate the value of your home so that you will choose them on the basis of a higher sale price and, ultimately, more money in your pocket. But what if it turns out that your property isn’t worth as much as you thought it would be, or the promised ‘easy sale’ remains elusive?
Of course, to establish a true valuation, you need the services of a RICS certified valuer and surveyor. Typically, you would expect your buyer to commission a pre-purchase survey, but it is also useful for the seller to obtain expert advice on the condition of the property for sale, particularly if the building in question is old or in obvious need or repair. Here are some examples of different types of surveys that can be done.
But even if there are no obvious problems with the property, there may be good reasons why the current asking price isn’t sparking much sales interest. We’ve identified 3 potential stumbling blocks that you may not have thought of.
- Your address
Would you rather live in Rectory Lane or Union Road? According to Zoopla, street names, house names and even house numbers can have a strong effect on property prices. Did you know that homes on ‘lanes’ fetch more than those on ‘roads’? And that houses with 13 in their address are on average £9,000 cheaper? Worse still, your address might contain rude or funny words – see below.
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The good news is that you may be able to rename your address, especially if it concerns your own property rather than the whole street. Adding or changing the name of a house can cost as little as £40. The process is not complicated and, once your application has been approved, usually only involves the local council, the Post Office and the emergency services.
For properties with regal titles, the value increase can be as much as £30K. As one estate agent confirmed, “there is definitely the snob factor of having a house with an aspirational name. Anything names ‘hall’ or ‘house’ can help add to desirability.
- Children and pets
While children and pets are a fact of life for many of us, their ‘evidence’ in the home can unfortunately negatively affect its value. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to find out that toys all over the house, or doodles up the wall, are likely to put off prospective buyers, especially those who don’t have or want children.
But are you aware that children’s messy bedrooms can take up to £8,000 off the value of your home? This should be a huge incentive to ensure your home is spic and span and the little darlings kept well out of the way before every viewing!
The same thing goes for pets. Having a cat or dog around the house won’t affect the sale price of your home as such, but noticeable animal smells, cat/dog hair everywhere, too many pets, loud or aggressive pets, doggy doors and cat flaps are bound to be unpleasant to non-pet owners. The impact on the asking price can be up to 5%.
- Outdoor spaces
Presenting the perfect home will be your first priority when you are offering your property for sale. But don’t just focus on indoor space. If you have a garden, that’s an amenity other properties in the area may not have, so use this standout feature to distinguish your property from the competition.
On the flipside, if your garden is neglected and overgrown, this may be a red flag for prospective purchasers who may well be put off by the effort and expense required to turn a neglected desert into a lush oasis, or at least somewhere kids and pets can safely roam. In particular, look out for plants that can cause serious structural problems such as Japanese Knotweed, Leylandii hedges and Wisteria, with potentially devastating effects on the property value.
Parking is a highly prized amenity, not just in urban areas but increasingly for suburban homes too. While it is useful to at least provide buyers with information regarding parking permits and local pay & display facilities, having nowhere at all to put a car will negatively affect your home’s value.
Have you considered converting your front garden into off-street parking? In the right area, you could add thousands to the property value!