10 Big Mistakes People Make When Selling Their House

10 Big Mistakes People Make When Selling Their House


As a surveyor that inspects houses  virtually everyday, it never ceases to amaze me the mistakes people make when selling their property.  Simple changes could have made a surprising difference to the purchase price achieved and speed with which they might have sold.


If your house is on the market here are basic mistakes you can avoid and simple changes that can make your house far more desirable and help you to achieve the highest price in the quickest possible time;


  1. First Impressions

The last thing you want is a purchaser to approach your house and then drive off without even getting out of the car. First impressions are more important than anything else you can do to improve saleability. You might not necessarily be a gardener, but we are all capable of cutting the lawn, trimming the hedge and sweeping the path and drive. Keeping the front garden tidy will make a huge difference to the initial impression you give. And of course a mattress in the garden, NO!

2.Paint the front

With a couple of pots and paint and some elbow grease, you can transform a tired looking house to an appealing home. Tatty paint makes some buyers wary; what else is wrong with the house? If you haven’t got the time, it’s worth paying somebody to do this for you, the chances are you’ll get more than you money back with a good offer. Keep the colours neutral and not to much of the jazzy stuff. You might think its cool but everyone’s taste is different. The teenagers room might have to stay black though. Believe me, the only thing that is more important than house presentation is avoiding the the wrath of a ‘young adult’.

  1. Don’t Buy a Cheap Front Door

This is a mistake many people make. You can buy plastic double glazed doors extremely cheaply but unfortunately that is exactly what they look like. If you already have a wooden front door it’s cheaper to renovate and paint it and it looks so much better!

4. Tidy the house!

It may sound bizarre, but you’d be surprised how many people leave the house looking a mess. Simply tidying the kitchen, putting things away and making the beds will make all the difference to the presentation of the house. Flowers on the table also so make a huge difference. Don’t put the coffee pot on, however, this is too much of a cliche!

Again you might have to just lock the teens room……

  1. Hide the Clutter

Most people have lots of personal bits and pieces on display that are extremely meaningful for them, for example numerous photographs, holiday trinkets and ornaments etc. However, these mean nothing to a prospective purchaser and while a few make the place homely, too many merely give the impression that the house is cluttered and smaller than it really is. Ideally you should remove the majority of them when the house is being viewed; you can always put them back afterwards. This may make the house seem bare to you but remember; the simpler the presentation, the easier it is for a buyer to visualise the home as their own.

  1. Keep The House a Comfortable Temperature

It goes without saying that a freezing cold house is unwelcoming, but few people realize a hot one has a similar impact. If it is a cold day outside, viewers will probably have their coats on and the last thing they want is to get boiling hot while viewing your house; it will only encourage an early exit.

By all means, light the fire if you’ve got one (not in the summer; that’s just wrong!), but make sure a window is open too.

  1. Stay Smell Free and Control your Pets!

Following nicely on from the last point, if you have a dog or other pets, the combination of animal smells and the property being too hot will soon turn off your potential buyers.  Many prospective buyers own a pet but the majority don’t. The chances are you have become immune to your pet’s smell but the buyers will notice immediately. They may even mistake the smell for a damp problem. So open the windows and freshen up the house a good hour or so before the buyers arrive (don’t overdo the air freshener!). If your dog is jumpy and barks at people coming to the door, arrange for someone to take him out.

  1. Don’t Follow Buyers Around.

The last thing buyers want is the vendor following them around. Usually the agents’ details will have a floor plan so unless you have a hidden passage, they can see exactly where everything is. Let them wander and get a feel for the house. Detailed information is no use to them at this stage when all they are thinking about is the big picture; ie could they live here? They don’t need to be told that you’ve just had the boiler serviced; that isn’t going to make them buy the property. Leave them to it so they can get a feel for the property. If you don’t like the idea of leaving them wandering on their own, go out and ask the agent to accompany. Also the agent is more likely to get honest feedback.

  1. Don’t Offer the Viewer a Drink as Soon as they Arrive

When the buyer arrives all they are thinking of is your home and what it looks like. If you offer them a drink they will either have to say no, which they might feel is rude, or they will end up having to carry it around. Also if they are really not interested, they might end up feeling they have to stay and be polite when all they want to do is leave.If they hang around then that’s a good sign and offering a drink then might be welcomed.

  1. And Finally……..

If you are still getting little interest it can really only mean one thing; you’re asking too much money. As much as we all like to think our house is the best in the neighbourhood, ultimately the market dictates the value. Everything is sellable at the right price…………


So stick to these principles and your house will be all the more appealing and likely to achieve a quick sale at a price closer to the figure you are hoping to achieve.


So, get sprucing and good luck!


If you are worried about a defect in your home or the one you are buying, go to www.askasurveyor.co.uk. You will be pleasantly surprised by the realistic cost of our sensible and pragmatic on-line advice.


Robert Desbruslais




And the biggest cause of damage to Buy to Let properties is…..?


New research shows that accidental damage to flooring is the main cause of insurance claims for tenants (42%), followed by furniture (22%) and damage to the property (18%).

The humble iron is the demon of buy-to-let properties, being the major cause of damage to floor coverings, such as vinyl and carpets, with an average claim of £380. Damage to the building including décor, curtains, blinds and outside areas has an average claim value of £566.

The claims data, analysed by LetRisks, also reveals that that the most expensive damage to buy-to-let property is fire and smoke damage.  Though it only constitutes 8% of claims, it responsible for the largest claims, with the average being £4,692 with some claims exceeding £100,000. This is followed by water damage, which constitutes 10% of claims, and has an average claim of £690.

Michael Portman, Managing Director of LetRisks comments: “This highlights the risks of letting a property, and the need for both tenants and landlords to protect their interests.

Recent TDS stats show that general damage to the landlords property constitutes 45% of tenant disputes. A well prepared inventory is paramount, as this will help protect the landlord against a dispute.  A thorough and professional check-in and check-out at the start and end of a tenancy is a must.

Whilst many tenants take out insurance cover for their possessions, this is a useful reminder for both tenants and landlords to consider the risks and how they could minimise them, by taking out the appropriate levels of insurance. Specialist tenant policies cover accidental damage to landlords’ property which helps protect the deposit and provides peace of mind.”

If you have issues with managing repairs, Ask a Surveyor can advise.



Buying a home: let the seller beware

house and keys

Article by Graham Ellis MRICS, Associate Director Residential (RICS)

Home moves can often be hampered – indeed in some cases scuppered completely – if information comes to light during the transaction process which puts doubt in the mind of the purchaser, their lender or their advisors.

This information is likely to be flagged up after a sale has been agreed, either in a valuation undertaken for the lender or in a separate home survey commissioned by the purchaser. In most cases it relates to things that might affect the value and/or the enjoyment of the property – especially if an unknown, possibly prohibitive cost is involved.

While damp, timber and structural movement are often cited as the most common defects that cause problems, homes are altogether more complicated entities. Mention of many other issues can send shudders through the backbones of purchasers, sellers and their advisors – issues which affect not only the building, but the environment in which it is located. Such issues as asbestos, flooding, Japanese knotweed, fracking, HS2, neighbour disputes and unsafe services regularly attract the attention of the media.

So how can purchasers safeguard themselves? Clearly establishing the facts is paramount. As the moving process at the moment is still very much based on the principle ‘let the buyer beware’, the seller or agent cannot be relied on for this information.

A purchaser is advised to obtain their own home survey (NOT a lender valuation) as a first step, then to heed any recommendations for further specialist reports or quotations for repairs – to build up as big a picture of the property as possible. Indeed, as lending criteria are tightened up a lender might also insist on this due to the limited contents of its valuation report and increased due diligence.

Is there any need to panic? No: provided the right information is obtained from an industry-recognised source, the matter can be managed and an acceptable solution adopted. This may impact on the value of the property and lead to a renegotiation of the purchase price, so the good will and understanding of a seller and their advisors is also required.

After a sale is successfully completed, could it come back to bite the parties involved in the future if certain information was found to have been omitted?

With a gathering momentum for increased consumer protection the market might well see a shift toward the principle, ‘let the seller beware’. Arguably, sellers and their agents should be better prepared to share information about a property – especially if a previous sale has fallen through.

Mortgage rates on the rise


Mortgage rates have increased around the UK over the last three months, Mortgage Brain’s quarterly product data analysis has revealed.

The analysis is calculated by comparing the lowest rate when purchasing property for £180,000.

The figures, which are up to date from 1 July 2014, show that interest rates on 5-year fixed rate products at 60% LTV have increased by 18% over the past three months from 2.35% to 2.78%.

At 60% LTV 3-year fixed rate products increased by 12% since April from 2.14% to 2.99%, yet 2-year fixed products decreased from 2.49% in April to 2.19%.

The rate on 2-year trackers at 60% LTV at remained level over the past three months at 1.49%, yet 5-year trackers saw rates rise 13% in June to 3.39%.

The gap between product rates at different LTV bands is widening, as the lowest 2-year fixed rate stands at 2.99%, 90% higher than the lowest rate product with a 60% LTV, which stands at 1.58%.

For 2-year trackers between 60% and 90% LTV the rate difference is 67%, with the lowest rates currently standing at 1.49% compared to 2.49%.

Mark Lofthouse, chief executive officer of Mortgage Brain, said: “While borrowers have benefitted from significant rate drops over the last 12 months, there are early signs that the market could be on the turn, especially within the three and five year term purchase schemes.

“For some time now the BoE has been hinting at a rate rise in 2015, and while it’s perhaps a little early to really see what effect the Mortgage Market Review is having on mortgage rates, we are starting to see ripples across the market.

“The next few months could prove quite interesting as things become clearer.”

A number of 2-year mortgages were cheaper during the second quarter of 2014, as 2-year fixed rates at 90% saw rates drop by 13% from 3.45% to 2.99% since April 2014.

The same product at 60% LTV meanwhile saw a modest 7% rise from 1.48% to 1.58%.

Interest rates on Buy-to-let products performed the best over the past three months, as out of the 18 products analysed only two 2-year and 3-year trackers at 60% LTV saw a rate rise.

Taking professional mortgage advice is crucial in order to ensure the best scheme for your circumstances. Our advisers can help.

New home registrations continue to rise

building contyractor.surveyor

The number of new homes registered across the country remains up compared to corresponding 2013 statistics, building on the high volumes seen over the past 18 months, according to the latest registration statistics from NHBC.

For the rolling quarter March – May 2014 a total of 37,975 new homes were registered with NHBC compared with 36,487 in the same three month period last year – an increase of 4 per cent and a continuation of the sustained growth seen during the year to date

Statistics for May show that the month had the highest number of registrations so far this year (13,220), but was down slightly by 5 per cent on last year’s corresponding month (13,914), which itself was the highest of 2013.

NHBC’s chief executive Mike Quinton said: “House-building levels have remained steady, continuing through May and consolidating the high volumes seen in 2013.

Overall we are seeing steady growth on last year’s exceptional figures and we obviously hope that this will continue throughout the remainder of the year as the sector continues its impressive recovery.”

Bank of England housing market ‘rhetoric’ scaring off buyers


Bank of England “rhetoric” and the Mortgage Market Review are both dragging activity downwards, the RICS has said.

While most surveyors reported an increase in prices, demand for property slowed back down to levels last seen at the beginning of 2013.

By contrast, new instructions increased for the first time this year.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “Rhetoric from key officials at the Bank, including Mark Carney, alongside the introduction of the MMR are already slowing momentum, particularly in London.

“Buyer inquiries in the capital are now slipping back, which suggests that the very sharp upward move in prices will flatten over the coming months.

“Elsewhere around the country, we believe the more hard-fought recovery should remain intact.”

Meanwhile, the Halifax has reported that – contrary to RICS findings – house prices slipped a little last month.

It says that, on a “seasonally adjusted” basis, the average UK house price was £183,462, down from £184,464 in May.

Annually, the Halifax puts house price inflation at 8.8%.

Stephen Noakes, the Halifax mortgages director, said: “Housing demand continues to be supported by an economic recovery that is gathering pace.”

Common property defects: My walls appear to be bulging and bowing

bulging wall1

The most common reason for bulging and bowing is where, in older properties, main walls over the decades have reacted to the inherent loading within the wall and pressure from the roof by outward movement.

Bulging and bowing can also occur where there is a deterioration of cast iron cavity wall ties in older properties.  Wall ties hold the outer and inner skin of brickwork of the main walls together.  In exposed locations or where very porous mortars have been used in the construction, moisture penetrates and rusts the metal.  As the metal deteriorates it expands and in conjunction with horizontal cracking causes the wall to bulge to accommodate the movement.

If you feel you may have an issue with bulging or bowing, contact Ask a Surveyor and we shall be pleased to advise.

Property defects: problems caused by structural alterations

structural alterations

This can be a major problem in many houses and can occur when homeowners have altered the layout of a property, or have made changes to structural elements of the building during extension works, for example, knocking through a load-bearing wall without fully considering the effects on the structure of the property as a whole.

Other reasons for issues occurring can be if the owner has decided to combine separate rooms into one to create an open plan layout, or if walls have been removed and rebuilt/reinstated, without obtaining the necessary statutory consents.  This often happens as fashions or family requirements change over the years.

If you think you are considering making structural alterations or have previous alterations that are affecting your property, it is vital that action is taken to rectify. Ask a Surveyor can provide advice and assistance.

Market Update – July 2014

housing market

Is the steam coming out of the property market?

Recent reports would seem to indicate a slowing down in the rate of property price increases and the changes lenders have made following the mortgage market review (MMR) have certainly added delays to the process of securing a loan as lenders go through a more detailed process to ascertain that any loans made are affordable by the borrowers.

There is often talk of the “ripple effect” that has, at its centre, Central London and whatever happens there tends to work its way into the wider UK market. Speaking with agents operating in Central London there is no doubt that there has been a “cooling down” of activity and the manic scenarios being seen only a few weeks ago with several buyers for every property have certainly reduced.

The Bank of England have also signalled that interest rates may need to increase a little sooner than previously forecast but have said that any rises will be small and incremental.

We are also less than a year away from a General Election and, in my experience, as we get closer to voting time there is likely to be a natural slowing down as the uncertainty of result causes people to “sit on their hands” and await the outcome.

At the time of writing however, the sales market remains strong as demand, in most price ranges, still exceeds supply. Yes we are seeing some slowing down of price rises but this is probably a good thing and property in prime locations is still attracting interest from large numbers of potential buyers.

The lettings market is steady and has gone through a period of adjustment as many “accidental landlords” have taken the opportunity of an improved sales market to sell and realise their property value. Rising prices also means that yields effectively reduce although yields remain good in comparison to other investments, particularly when you factor capital value increases over the medium and longer term.

A lack of fresh supply is ensuring good rental returns are being maintained and many landlords are looking to grow their portfolios, a clear indicator that confidence in the sector remains high.

Whilst new home numbers are increasing they are still pitifully below the levels needed to meet demand and this imbalance will help ensure that property values hold up and grow, albeit at more comfortable rates of growth in the weeks and months ahead.

Help to Buy has clearly assisted many, particularly first time buyers, to buy and has also contributed to improving confidence in the sector.

To conclude, my view is that the property market remains set fair for a good and positive 2014. I believe there may be some stuttering during 2015 due to the General Election but that the overall prognosis remains positive.

Rob Desbruslais BSc MRICS

Housing confidence doubles

Successful Business People Showing Thumbs Up.

Confidence in the property market has more than doubled in a year, research from Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank has revealed.

Over half (55%) of homeowners anticipate their home increasing in value over the next 12 months compared to just 25% last year.

The East of England and Yorkshire have seen the greatest boost, as 65% and 58% expect the value of their homes to fluctuate compared to 14% and 17% in 2013 respectively.

London (80%) and the South East (70%) are most optimistic regarding house price growth.

Confidence also rose in Scotland and Wales, where 45% and 42% expected the value of homes to increase, compared to 20% for both in 2013.

Andrew Pearce, retail director for Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks, said: “While some differences remain around the country, it is encouraging to see confidence returning to the property market so widely and so clearly.

“Without exception, there has been a strong rebound in confidence in the housing market in the last year across the regions.

“We are seeing this positive attitude reflected in the growing demand for mortgages, our own and in the wider market, and the overall level of housing transactions.

“Recovery is still in its early stages, and there must be care to balance the demand for mortgages so as not to see a repeat of past issues, but the wider economic measures are also pointing in the right direction for a sustained and sustainable period of growth.”

Housing transactions stand at their highest level since 2008 according to HM Treasury figures as consumer and business confidence continues to return.