- Property transactions are down and it may be trickier to secure a sale
- Some features homeowners love may be off-putting to a potential buyer
- We asked estate agents what the biggest turn-offs are
With property sales down by 10 per cent since pre-Covid levels, now is a tricky time to sell your home.
But what are the features and centrepieces that can turn buyers off?
Some of these fancy home additions listed by property experts, below, may surprise you — but they’re likely to end up hampering a sale.
If you have a huge garden where you can shelter a pool behind high hedges, then it may add to the value of your house. But if you have a modest suburban plot, it’s a different matter.
‘I think I lose two out of ten buyers if a house has a pool,’ says Jason Corbett, of Rowallan Buying Agents. ‘They cost around £10 a day to heat and they are a safety concern.’
You may think that ponds would be a selling point — especially given the popularity of wild swimming.
But the dangers of drowning or having a heart attack (due to the cold) outweigh notions of the good life for most buyers.
Hot tubs can also be a turn-off. It’s a personal matter: most people simply don’t like the idea of bathing where someone else has bathed before them.
A beautiful garden can be a selling point, but over-ornate flower beds and borders can have the opposite effect.
‘Anything too fiddly can be off-putting,’ says Robin Gould, of Prime Purchase. ‘I recently saw a house with a wonderful garden which needed two gardeners to tend to it, costing £25,000 a year. Not many can afford that commitment.’
Large expanses of decking are also best avoided.
‘It becomes green, slimy and unattractive in time,’ says Carol Peett of West Wales Property Finders. ‘Decking also provides a cosy home for rats.’
So ignore the advice of the daytime television gardening programmes and rip up the decking before you sell.
A Georgian-style orangery is likely to add to the look of any home, but a ramshackle lean-to conservatory (defined as having 75 per cent of the roof glazed) full of abandoned exercise bikes and broken sofas will put off buyers.
‘Cheap uPVC windows in a period house, also look terrible,’ says Nick Wooldridge, of Stacks Property Search.
‘Especially if the original windows would have been sliding-sash and they have been replaced with top-hinge windows.’
Your eye-catching staircase may be your pride and joy, but it won’t help you sell. ‘Open tread, glass or cantilevered staircases look lovely but they are dangerous,’ says Marc Schneiderman, of Arlington Residential.
‘I showed a house with a statement staircase in Hampstead, London, to dozens of potential buyers.
‘All stated the staircase as their reason for not buying and the ultimate purchaser made an offer conditional on the vendors changing it.’
They used to be purely functional but nowadays bathrooms are subject to the whims of interior designers, sometimes to disastrous effect.
‘A rolltop bath in the bedroom brings a touch of boutique hotel luxury,’ says Michael Holmes, an expert at the Homebuilding & Renovating Show.
‘But the 1990s move to bring the WC into the bedroom was a step too far.’
Other trends that are past their sell-by date include the television in the wall over the bath, double ‘his and hers’ sink units and loos behind glass in the en-suite.
Many homeowners have a room dedicated to their own personal interests, be it a nightclub in the attic or a fully kitted out gym in a reception room.
I once met a man whose cellar was a shrine to Southampton Football Club, complete with turnstiles at the door and life-size cardboard models of the star players.
They won’t help you sell your home.
‘The more niche your centrepiece is, the less chance you have of impressing a potential buyer,’ says Charlie Warner, at Heaton & Partners.
There can be little doubt that your home should be environmentally friendly. However, to sell quickly, it also needs to look good.
‘Eco bling — experimental-looking homes with tiny windows, turbines that never seem to turn, and roofs shrouded in too many solar panels are all a big turn-off,’ says Michael Holmes.
‘Badly ageing, untreated timber-cladding, too, is a sign of a self-builder trying too hard to express green credentials.’
The experts’ advice is simple when it comes to preparing a house for sale.
‘Don’t try to make a statement,’ says Ed Jephson, of Stacks Property Search. ‘Avoid personalised quirky styles. Light fittings, paint colours and wallpapers should be aimed for broad appeal.’
Emma Fildes, of Brick Weaver buying agents, warns against gaudy sofas, inappropriate art and murals — particularly those depicting the vendor’s family.
‘The craze for stencilling the walls with slogans such as ‘Live Laugh Love’ has run its course and they may well put off a buyer,’ says interior designer, Julia Kendell.
‘And for goodness sake, paper over that jarring feature wall.’