Property prices have soared at a record pace as desperate buyers have jostled for the limited number of new homes on the market.
Yet even though demand is high, sellers are not guaranteed to turn a profit from their bricks and mortar. From interior faux paus to dubious paperwork, sellers could unintentionally shave tens of thousands of pounds from their property price, or even kill a sale altogether.
We spoke to property experts about the most common ways you could accidentally damage your house price.
1. Too much ‘you’
Robin Gould, of buying agency Prime Purchase, warned an over-personalised property was a big deterrent for potential buyers.
“I viewed a property on behalf of a client which had an outdoor swimming pool with a tiled mural of the owner on the bottom. Why any buyer would want a lasting reminder of the previous owner is beyond me,” he said.
“Unsurprisingly, the client didn’t buy it. But if the vendor did eventually find a buyer, one of the first jobs would have been to retile the pool, which could easily have cost hundreds, if not thousands of pounds.”
A survey of more than 2,000 adults by GoCompare Home Insurance found one in ten would be put off buying a home with over-the-top décor or carpets. An untidy house was a red flag for 18pc of respondents.
Being too bold with colour and styles in rooms which were expensive to change, such as kitchens and bathrooms, was especially off putting.
Buyers often loathe to undo something which has recently been finished, but not to their tastes. Some flare in styling is fine and features like curtains and paint can be easily changed, but bigger, bolder fixtures can start causing issues.
2. Overdeveloping your home
As the saying goes, less is more. Overdeveloping a house and making it too big for its plot can knock tens of thousands of pounds from its price tag.
Owners have the best intentions when extending or adding to their house, but if it doesn’t balance with the garden space then it can really devalue a home.
It really does depend on the price of the property, but say a house was on the market for between £700,000 and £800,000 then overdevelopment is capable of reducing the price by £50,000.
3. Suspect paperwork
With so much time spent indoors since the pandemic hit, many owners turned their hand to home improvements. But planning and consent rules can be complex and it is not always clear what changes need permission. This, warned Ms Cull, has often led to issues when selling.
Sellers not getting the necessary consents or building regulations for works in both listed and unlisted properties can really damage the price, or even kill the deal altogether. On top of this, a serious breach of consent can involve hefty fines
In some lucky cases retrospective permission, awarded after works are completed, can be granted, but anyone buying the property risks instead being ordered by the council to revert the property back to its original state.
4. Getting the garden wrong
Since the pandemic began outdoor space has become the most valuable property feature. The so-called “race for space” amongst buyers has caused double-digit price rises for homes with large gardens and other green space.
The survey of house hunters by GoCompare found more than half of buyers would now be deterred from buying a home without a garden.
But over-complicated and poorly designed gardens can also reduce a property’s value, rather than add to it, Mr Gould warned.
“Everyone loves a garden but if you make it too fiddly and all-consuming, it can be very off putting,” he said.
“I viewed a property recently which was on the market for £2.5 million and it had two full-time gardeners. The cost of gardening was north of £25,000 a year, which is too big a commitment for many. The first thing any buyer is going to do is put a bulldozer through it.”
5. Over-ambitious pricing
The average house price rose by 10pc in the year to November 2021, according to mortgage lender Nationwide, and an acute shortage of homes on the market means a record number of sellers are achieving above asking price.
However Robert Peel, of estate agency Antony Roberts, said putting your house up for sale at too high a price is “one of the most damaging things” a seller can do. This tactic frequently costs vendors around 5pc of their potential sale price, he warned.
“The strongest market response is always in the first two weeks of exposure. Lots of people waste this optimal sales period by being too optimistic on price and dampening their response,” Mr Peel said.
“If you reduce the price at a later date in order to agree a sale, you won’t get what you might have done if you’d been realistic from the start and had competing buyers.
He added: “It happened to a flat in St Margarets, in Richmond, last autumn, which started with an asking price of £500,000 and ended up selling for £460,000, when it should have achieved £480,000 with a £475,000 starting price.”