While moving can be an exciting time, estate agents warn that it’s easy to make blunders while trying to sell your home which could potentially knock value off your property – and some of these may be quite surprising.

Mark Bentley, president of National Association of Estate Agents Propertymark, cautions: “Sometimes the improvements and changes you have made might make the property less attractive to buyers. So before you start marketing your home, it’s worth taking stock and making any necessary alterations, to give you the best chance of securing your asking price.”


For those in two minds about making changes, he suggests: “You can ask friends or family for their honest opinions. Or your estate agents can help advise on any small changes you may want to make before placing your home on the market.”

Of course, the extent to which something would add or take away value from a home can vary, depending on factors such as individual circumstances and local market conditions.

What to avoid to sell your home

With that in mind, here are some of the key factors that NAEA Propertymark members have experienced as having a negative impact on a property’s value…

1. Over-personalisation

People’s homes suit their personalities. But if you like your decor big and bold, it may be worth toning it down a bit – unless you can find a buyer who has a similar taste.

Typically, modestly-decorated homes are most desirable, as homeowners can easily see how they could make it their home.

2. Property condition

how to sell your home
Consider how viewers will see your space (Thinkstock/PA)

Tell-tale indications of damp, cracks on walls, a poor roof condition, an old boiler, and single-glazed windows can all impact on the value of a property – and interest from buyers.

These can be fairly quick-fixes, so it’s worth making sure you get them done before you start viewings.

3. Bad presentation

Show off your home at its best. Everything should be clean, clutter tidied away, and any outstanding DIY jobs should be finished.

If a home smells fresh and clean, it has a much greater chance of selling quickly. Consider getting some plug-in air fresheners in a neutral scent, such as the Ambi Pur Cotton Fresh Air Freshener Plug-in Starter Kit, available on Amazon.

4. Swimming pools

They may be great fun in the summer, but swimming pools in the UK can put some potential buyers off – although others may be wowed. As well as the issue of maintenance, pools take up space, and some buyers may see them as a hassle.

If a property has an outside swimming pool that is run down, owners might want to consider filling it in. But if it’s great condition, then selling the home in the summer could show the pool off at its best.

5. Not having the right paperwork

If you have had work carried out while living in the property, such as extensions or conversions, make sure you obtained appropriate planning permission and building regulations, and have access to these documents.

If you haven’t got the right documents, you may have to pay for them retrospectively before agreeing a sale.

6. Dark rooms

If you’ve planted lots of bushes and trees close to the windows, your home may appear gloomy to buyers. Frosted glass windows or netted curtains can also sometimes have the same effect.

If this isn’t a quick fix, at least make sure there is ample lighting in the room. A white LED will create a more natural lighting effect than a dim yellow bulb.

7. A garden full of weeds

If your garden is over-grown and unusable, potential buyers are likely to be put off. It may be worth forking out for a gardener make your garden look more presentable.

Be especially wary of Japanese knotweed. The invasive plant with deep roots can damage the foundations of your home and significantly devalue it if it’s at risk of subsidence as a result. If you think you can see any in your garden, call a professional to excavate it as soon as possible. It can also potentially affect your ability to get a mortgage on the property.

8. Clutter

Clean each room from top to bottom, paying special attention to ‘high-impact’ rooms, such as the kitchen and bathroom. Things like too much furniture, children’s toys and unused gym equipment can make your property feel smaller.

If you’ve got too much to put away, consider renting a storage unit for items you don’t use regularly so you can store them until you’ve secured a deal.

9. Dated fixtures and fittings

Kitchens are often the focus for buyers, so it’s important they don’t look too outdated. Painting kitchens and replacing cupboard handles and old taps can be a cost-effective way of getting kitchens up-to-date.

Consider a neutral-yet-stylish light grey paint, such as Dulux Easycare Kitchen Matt Emulsion Paint For Walls And Ceilings in Chic Shadow, available on Amazon. Brightly coloured kitchens don’t tend to appeal as much as modern, neutral colours.

10. Over-improving

As well as not doing enough, you can do too much. For example, putting fake grass in the garden may have benefited your sporty family but it may not appeal to buyers who love the smell of a freshly-cut lawn. Keep improvements simple.

11. Not being energy-efficient

A home’s energy performance has become increasingly important. If your home needs an energy efficiency boost, consider steps to make it happen, such as installing double glazing.

12. Nuisance neighbours

Whether it’s a dispute over boundaries, shared access to driveways or anti-social noise, falling out with your neighbour is not only stressful but can affect the sale of a property.

To avoid the risk of a comeback later down the line, honesty is the best policy if you’ve had a dispute with a neighbour.

13. Structural problems

If your home has any serious structural defects which aren’t necessarily visible on the first inspection, this can put serious doubt in the minds of buyers. Their mortgage provider may even refuse to lend against the property. If you’re aware of a major structural problem with your property, try and fix it before putting it on the market.

If you are not in the financial position to repair the issue, get an appropriate contractor to give you an estimate for repair. You should disclose everything to the buyer and provide the documents on how to remedy the issue. You’ll help to put buyers’ minds at ease.

14. Rail timetable changes

If you’re in a commuter town, any changes to train timetables that make it more difficult to travel to the nearest city could potentially affect the saleability of your property.

Even planned repairs on railways can have a temporary effect, so keep an eye out for these. You may need to consider pushing back selling your house to avoid these.

15. Properties without a lengthy lease

If you are selling your property with a shortened lease, you should provide this information as early as possible. Don’t wait until you’ve got an interested buyer to tell them.

16. Being on a flight path

If your property falls within an airport’s flight path, noise can cause issues. But the impact this has on a home depends on how busy the airport is – and even the type of aircraft used.

Prospective buyers may be going into the purchase with their eyes and ears open, so be honest with them on how much you can hear and the times of day you’re disrupted.

17. Parking disputes

Issues can arise with street parking if a neighbour leaves their car in the space closest to your property. If you’re thinking about selling your home and have a parking issue with a neighbour, try to have a friendly word before any viewings. Often simple courtesy will resolve the problem, and could help you sell your home.

If you share a driveway with your neighbour and there’s a dispute over a lack of space, check your house deeds to find out where the boundaries lie.

How to sell your home
A quick sale is never guaranteed – so being as prepared as possible helps (iStock/PA)

18. School catchment areas

Parents always want to ensure their children get into the right school, so the closeness of your home to popular local schools is a big consideration for families.

Those keen to move are usually prepared to pay a higher premium for a property in their chosen school catchment area. However, school catchment areas can change, so it’s worth keeping an eye on this so you can be transparent with buyers.

19. Underlying damp

If damp isn’t taken care of, it can cause major damage to a home. While many cases of damp need simple and inexpensive treatment, in extreme cases the building’s structure may be at risk, resulting in lengthy and costly remedial work.

If you’re concerned about damp, a surveyor can help. You may need to factor this into your house price, but if the damage is minimal you can potentially cure it yourself.

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