How to successfully sell your home in today's market

As the majority of the UK continues to experience a slump in property prices, new research reveals what steps you can take to secure a more profitable sale in such a difficult market.

Related topics:  Property,  Selling,  Housing Market
Property | Reporter
25th January 2024
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"A disturbing or difficult past will definitely affect a valuation and there are certain things we must disclose to a potential purchaser, for example, if a murder has taken place on the property"
- Edward Taylor - Fine & Country

The average UK house costs £291,000 in today’s market, with the North East experiencing the highest price increase of anywhere in the country with a growth of 1.6%.

However, 80% of the UK is experiencing a slump in property prices that experts predict will continue into 2024 as the cost-of-living crisis continues. Some predictions reveal that house prices will only fall by 1% as we start the new year, but others are less optimistic, claiming that prices will fall by 2.4% and won’t even begin to recover until 2025.

Fitted bedrooms specialists, The Sliding Door Wardrobe Company has spoken to property experts to help you avoid the biggest mistakes people make when trying to sell their homes.

An unwelcome feeling

They say you should bake bread when you have a house viewing so potential buyers feel welcome. But during our freezing, dark winters, one of the best things you can do is make sure your house is well-lit and warm.

The level of heat and light during your valuation can drastically affect your valuation.

Edward Taylor, Director at Fine & Country explains: “Generally light and bright spaces are hugely attractive and would increase the saleability and value of a space. We are also finding buyers are increasingly looking for more energy-efficient homes with good heat retention.

"A south-facing aspect with lots of natural light can help with heat generation too.”

A recent survey revealed that 81% of Brits actively hate winter, with 49% citing dark mornings as the main reason and 32% blaming having freezing hands. By keeping your home warm and well-lit during a valuation, you will tap into the feeling of comfort and relaxation that so many of us are seeking at this time of year, encouraging a more favourable view of your space.

Overgrown gardens

A messy garden is never a great first impression, but it can be even worse if you’ve got problem plants growing near your house. Japanese knotweed is a particular plant to watch out for as it spreads extremely quickly, choking everything in its path! You may not notice it in the winter, but when summer arrives, small bamboo-like shoots will begin to appear.

Japanese knotweed has infested most of the UK, with Bolton in Lancashire faring worst, experiencing 652 infestations within a 4km radius. The weed can reach heights of over seven feet and it’s very difficult to remove once it has a grip on your garden!

As a seller, you must state if Japanese knotweed is present on your property and so far its presence has knocked £20 billion off UK house prices. The best way to move forward is to call in a team of professionals who can remove the weed using a specialist weedkiller before your all-important valuation.

Peeling paint and mould

Failing to redecorate and leaving unsightly mould on display can affect your valuation. This includes more than just the areas inside your home – think about how your property looks from the outside, covering everything from fencing to your front door.

Estimates show that 3.8% of houses in the UK have some kind of problem with damp – that’s around 912,000 homes. Problems with damp in the home can lead to significant mould and peeling wallpaper or paint. Depending on how bad the mould infestation is, it can devalue your home by up to 30%!

It’s often tricky to deal with damp and mould within your home, but simply painting over the problem is never a good idea.

Edward comments: “Mould issues can be common in poorly ventilated properties, especially in bathrooms that don’t have windows or adequate airflow.”

If this is the case in your home, try to limit the amount of moisture by opening windows and letting fresh air circulate.

The best way to get a mould problem under control is to call in a team of experts who can safely remove any spores. If you want to get mould under control yourself, remember to always wear rubber gloves and protect your nose and mouth with a mask.

Crazy clutter

Research reveals that your home valuation could decrease by 10% because of clutter. Edward agrees clutter that is not dealt with before a viewing “could affect the marketability of a property and the potential for it to achieve the very best price at sale.”

Before your valuation, make sure everything has a place. You should be aiming for your house to look like a show home that the new owners can put their own stamp on – not somewhere you’ve already claimed as your own space.

Dominic Poulter from Northwood Estate Agents suggests that clutter would not necessarily directly affect your valuation – as long as you were willing to clean up the mess.

He explains: “I would see past a little clutter and advise the homeowner of how to make their property look the best it can for the professional photographs. First impressions do definitely count, but we’re here to help the seller get the best price for their home – it’s actually my favourite thing about carrying out valuations!”

Add value to your home by investing in fitted furniture and clever space-saving hacks, so the clutter takes care of itself. Fitted storage solutions that are bespoke to your home are extremely attractive to estate agents and potential buyers– they could add thousands of pounds to an initial valuation!

A house without a name

If possible, give your house a name, or at least make sure the number is visible from outside. This gives the space an identity. This can also help alleviate any concerns about a potentially disturbing past or superstition linked to the house.

For instance, if your house is number 13 or has been previously linked to criminal activity, giving it a different name can give it a new lease of life.

Edward says: “A disturbing or difficult past will definitely affect a valuation and there are certain things we must disclose to a potential purchaser, for example, if a murder has taken place on the property.”

Research has shown that a disturbing past can knock £100,000 off your average property price.

Dominic comments: “If the area is perhaps seen as less desirable, we would take this into account when looking at the valuation and take a look at comparable properties in the same location – how much have they successfully sold for? But ultimately the price will depend on the seller’s intent – do they need a sale tomorrow or are they willing to wait? It all depends on circumstance.”

Unknown bespoke additions

Make sure you emphasise anything that comes with the house, such as extra land, a unique feature, or fitted furniture.

Dominic says: “Extensions and unique additions can help sell a property, so you should always make sure the person carrying out your valuation is aware of any additions you have made.”

You should also mention features like double glazing or being in a good school district that aren’t immediately obvious! This can help to enhance the value of your home to potential buyers who are looking to invest in a desirable area.

Underlying issues

Deal with any underlying issues, such as structural or water damage, before listing the property to avoid problems further down the road. If it’s something you cannot take care of yourself, you need to report the issue to your estate agent so they are aware of it before they try to sell the house.

Dominic explains: “If the homeowner is aware of an underlying issue, they have to declare it and so does the estate agent. Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to issues. It’s also important to disclose any issue surrounding the property, such as a problem neighbour.”

If you’re thinking of selling your house, make sure to take care of any issues before you invite an estate agent for a valuation to ensure you get the fairest price possible! Remember to avoid these common mistakes and make sure your home is warm, inviting and free from clutter.

Edward recommends leaning on your estate agent: “A good agent will give you specific advice on what could make a difference for potential purchasers. Their bespoke, expert advice will ensure you get the highest valuation possible for your property.”

“While we see a variety of very interesting properties, the most enjoyable thing about valuations is the variety of people I meet.”

Your agent will work in partnership with you to ensure you get the valuation you and your property deserve.

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