10 ways to devalue your home

Rachel Wait takes a look at some of the potential areas that could reduce the value of your property...

I’m currently in the process of getting my flat ready to go on the market. And that means giving it a good tidy up, a major de-cluttering, and a bit of a paint job.

After all, I want to get the best price I can for my flat, so I need to make sure it's in tip-top condition.

Of course, while there are several things you can do to help boost the value of your home, there are also many things that will simply bring the price of your property down. So here are ten things that can devalue your home:

1. Dodgy DIY

It’s easy to think you can do a spot of DIY around your home and no one will be able to tell the difference. But if there are obvious signs of dodgy DIY, such as lumpy plastering or uneven floors, this could bring down the value of your property.

Buyers will simply be wondering how much it will cost them to carry out the repairs, and as a result, they will either want to offer a lower price or they’ll go elsewhere.

2. Old-fashioned bathroom

Personally, I can’t stand old-fashioned looking bathrooms complete with avocado/peach/burgundy suites. In fact, it’s the one thing that really puts me off a property the second I look at it. Carpets and bathrooms don’t mix either.

So if you are hoping to get the very best price for your property, it may be worth thinking about investing in a modern (white) bathroom suite.

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Sell your home

If you want to obtain the best possible price when selling your home, then these ideas should help.

There’s no need to go crazy and have a waterfall shower head and a bath big enough to swim in. All you need is something a little more 2011 and a little less 1975.

Just make sure that if your builder is going to concrete all over your bathroom floor and ban you from using the toilet all night that he actually informs you of this in advance. That way you should avoid being greeted with a ‘no entry’ stick across the bathroom doorway when you get home from work. Speaking from experience, this really isn’t a great situation to be in...

3. Badly designed kitchen

Similarly, a badly designed kitchen won’t go down too well. Lino flooring is old-fashioned, as are brightly-coloured Formica work surfaces and cupboard doors.

So if your kitchen is looking a little dated, it might be time to modernise it a little!

You don’t have to spend a fortune either. If the cupboards themselves are fine, you can simply replace the unit doors and fit new handles. You can also pick up new worktops pretty cheaply.

Larks & Larks is a great place to start looking as it sells a wide range of kitchen items at reasonable prices. IKEA also has a good selection.

And again, if you’ve got carpets in your kitchen – get rid.

4. Smelly pets

As much as you love your four cats and three dogs, potential buyers might not share the same affection for them.

While the odd pet here and there is unlikely to make a significant impact, if you do have a lot of pets running around during viewings, or if there’s cat hair everywhere and an unpleasant smell lingering in the lounge, it’s likely to drive down the offer price.

And of course, not all pets are furry and cuddly. If I walked into a property and there was a large snake sitting in a glass cage, I’d be straight out the door!

5. Noisy neighbours

Unfortunately, if you’ve got noisy neighbours, this can also bring down the value of your home. Of course, the buyers may not find out until they’ve already moved in. But if you’ve had a serious dispute with a neighbour, you have a legal responsibility to tell potential buyers. So try and stay on the right side of your neighbours!

You also might have a problem if there’s a TV blaring or arguments going on next door while you’re showing potential buyers around. So you may need to have a quiet word with your neighbours to encourage them to keep the noise down – or only have viewers over when your neighbours are out.

6. Living on a flood plain

You may have to be prepared for lower offers on your property if you live on a flood plain. A local authority search will show whether your property is situated in an area prone to flooding, so you won’t be able to hide this.

However, if you’ve taken steps to try and prevent flooding, make sure you inform potential buyers as this should help to keep offers at the level you want.

7. Neglected exterior

Given that the exterior of a property is the first thing potential buyers will see, it’s important to make sure it looks good.

John Fitzsimons looks at some simple ways to boost the value of your home.

If your front door is looking a little worse for wear, give it a good lick of paint or replace it all together. And make sure the windows have been given a good clean and that there are no major cracks in the brick work.

It also wouldn’t hurt to tidy up and de-weed the front (and back) garden and have some colourful plants out the front too to welcome viewers as they arrive.

8. Unexpected developments

Unfortunately, there’s not always a lot you can do if a new building development suddenly gets the go-ahead, spoiling the view from your garden - or if you live near an airport, and the runway is due to be expanded. After all, even if you raise your objections, more often than not, developers get planning permission anyway.

However, while this is likely to reduce the value of your home, you need to be upfront to prospective buyers to gain their trust. If you’re seen to be hiding things, this is likely to put buyers off even further.

9. High crime rates

Unfortunately for sellers, it’s just got easier for buyers to find out about crime rates in your area. And that’s all thanks to the Home Office’s new crime mapping website which allows users to see the total number of crimes that took place in certain neighbourhoods in the last month.

So, of course, if a potential buyer looks up the crime rates in your area and sees they are high, this is likely to drive down the value of your home.

Meanwhile, Up My Street allows you to view a full profile of a particular neighbourhood, including crime figures, average income, demographic make-up and typical professions. You can find out more about these websites in The website that can devalue your home

If you do live in an area that has a high crime rate, you can help mitigate the problem by fitting solid, approved locks on doors and windows as well as installing an alarm. It’s also well worth setting up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme if there isn’t already one in your area.

10. A spooky past

I was watching an old episode of Cheers a few weeks ago – the one in which Carla buys a new home and can’t understand why she got it at such a bargain – until she discovers the house has been built over a graveyard.

Unfortunately, if there are rumours of ghostly goings-ons in your area or there has been a death in your property and potential buyers find out about this, they may be a little reluctant to buy your home at the asking price, or even buy it at all!

So, again, always make sure you're upfront about these matters to potential buyers. And of course, if you’ve never seen a ghost prowling round your home and you believe the rumours to be a lot of nonsense, you can say that too!

More: Forget fixes and turn to trackers | Top 10 property websites

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