12 potential deal breakers for property buyers

The average UK property takes 102 days to find a buyer, according to official stats from the Post Office. At 65 days on average per property, the fastest-selling area at the moment is the West Midlands, with Redditch, in particular, boasting a 45-day selling time!

But sometimes it can take even longer – especially if your property features a few ‘deal breakers.’ The trick is to find out the most common deal breakers for prospective buyers and how to remedy them. We spoke to several leading property experts to find out how you can break the deal breakers!


1. Noisy neighbours and roads with heavy traffic

Nobody wants to hear their neighbour’s parties or lorries and cars thundering past when they’re trying to relax at home. That’s why houses situated on A roads or next to loud neighbours can be a bit harder to sell. However, there is a plus side to this for the prospective buyers. Some house hunters actively seek homes near to busier roads as it may mean getting a premium property for a slightly lower price.

Remedy: Make sure all exterior walls are well-insulated, ensure there’s double-glazing throughout the property, fit all doors with weathering strips and replace any hollow doors with solid doors. Other more inexpensive ways of soundproofing your home may include fitting heavier curtains, filling a wall-to-wall bookcase on an exterior wall and placing rugs on hardwood floors.

2. Bad broadband

A rural area may mean you’re surrounded by beautiful scenery but it also potentially means poor broadband speeds. Hamlets and villages in rural parts of Gloucestershire, North Yorkshire and so on tend to have slower broadband speeds (depending on the provider), whereas cities and their suburbs tend to have the fastest broadband speeds.

Remedy: A few options might include installing a satellite dish or buying a WiFi signal repeater/ WiFi boosters to strengthen your broadband speed.

3. No / limited parking

Off-road parking is one of the most sought-after features of a property, especially in more built-up areas! However, off-road parking doesn’t completely guarantee the safety of a car, as it does depend on the area. So, it may be a good idea to stress to the viewers that the neighbourhood is a safe placefor on-street parking. 

Remedy: If you have a front garden / yard but don’t really use it, you might want to consider transforming it into a simple tarmac or concrete driveway. Make sure you seek planning permission for this, especially if it involves dropping the kerb on a public footpath in front of your house/ If you don’t have parking it’s always important to let viewers know where the nearest free car park is and the parking times outside your house (if applicable).

4. Stamp Duty Land Tax

Patrick Cannon, a leading London tax barrister, explains how Stamp Duty Land Tax may be a deal breaker for those buying a new property: “Many buyers who are now prepared to take the plunge are insisting the sellers reduce the asking price to help absorb the eye-watering stamp duty cost that the buyer will have to pay. These discussions can become fraught and prove to be deal-breakers although there is anecdotal evidence that serious sellers are willing to play ball.”

Remedy: Obviously, it’s not up to you how much Stamp Duty Land Tax a buyer has to pay for the property. But there are ways you can sweeten the deal – instead of lowering the price of your property you could throw in shelving, carpets and some white goods with the house. It’s all about negotiating with the prospective buyers. However, it’s important to be aware that this is often not acceptable to mortgage lenders, and even including other incentives can sometimes affect a mortgage. 

5. Damp and mold

Damp patches and mold on the walls and ceilings put off an average of 80% of prospective buyers, according to official stats from Strutt & Parker. Removing just the mould and damp, and not dealing with the source of it, can cost around £250 per room. Not only is damp and mold unsightly, it can make life very difficult for people with existing problems such as asthma and those with poor immune systems.

Remedy: You can use anti-damp paint for the walls to help prevent damp and mould from reappearing. However, it is advisable to get it treated properly – it could save you months of waiting to find a buyer and also a few grand on negotiating the price. Simon Woodcock, Managing Partner of Robinson Jackson Estate Agents, advised: “Many deal breakers are unseen and only show up in the survey – such as damp or subsidence. Sellers usually have two options if a major flaw is uncovered – rectify the problem at their own expense before completion or get quotes for the work and reduce their asking price by around the same amount.”

6. Poor energy efficiency rating

Britain’s houses are some of the oldest and coldest in Europe, meaning it can cost a small fortune to heat them. The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of a home is now more important than ever before. Buyers are starting to realise that a home with a poor energy efficiency rating could be a potential deal breaker.

Remedy: A spokesperson for Everest Windows said “A quarter of household heat is lost through the roof. Loft insulation is easy to install and a relatively inexpensive place to start when improving the energy efficiency of your home. The recommendation of rock wool is 270mm minimum depth. Older windows can be responsible for 40% of the heat loss in your house. Installing high performance glazing will make a significant difference to the energy efficiency of a home. If your house is suitable (seek professional advice) for cavity wall insulation you can expect a considerable retention of the third of heat lost through uninsulated walls.”

7. Any major building works

Unless you don’t mind targeting people looking for a fixer-upper, any major building works such as dilapidated ceilings, rotten flooring and subsidence (property sinking into the ground) can put off your average prospective buyer.

Remedy: Renovations shouldn’t be a major game-changer – Rightmove reported that 90% of house hunters would consider buying a fixer-upper. It may be worth targeting buy-to-let house hunters as they are likely to have an open-mind about properties requiring renovation because they’re likely to have a strong network of builders, plumbers, electricians and so on, so they’re able to get the best prices.

8. Tired interiors

General shabbiness is, unsurprisingly, one of the most common deal breakers for a property. If there’s lots of clutter around the house, for example, it may give the viewers the impression that there’s a lack of storage space. Shaan Ahmed, founder of property crowdfunding platform UOWN, said: “The biggest deal breaker that we find is shabby looking interiors, and bad pictures of shabby looking interiors. We always make sure that a property is dressed well before any viewings or photos are taken.”

Remedy: Shaan explains it’s the small things that count, as refreshing the interior “doesn’t have to be expensive, and can be as simple as draping a blanket over a tired sofa or putting a nice bowl of fruit in the kitchen. Creating a good impression with small meaningful touches can be the differential when a potential buyer is evaluating a few different opportunities.”

Ugo Arinzeh, MD of Onyx Property Consultants, agrees that changing the little things can make the biggest transformations: “Lighting is a key element that many people miss.  Choosing the right lighting can add so much to a room and will help to create the right ambience. From spot lights for general lighting to decorative chandeliers and pendant lights, there are loads of options available that will suit all budgets.  As previously mentioned, one of the simplest and best ways to update a room is to simply paint. Many people are afraid of painting and stick to standard white, but painting taking advantage of the vast selection of colours on offer can truly transform a space and create everything from a peaceful haven to a wow effect.   

9. Textured walls and ceilings

Nothing could be worse than stubborn wallpaper refusing to budge, right? But there’s something that’s one step more difficult to remove – textured walls and ceilings. Once popular in the 70s and 80s, textured ceilings can actually be a deal breaker for viewers.

Remedy: Ugo advises “ If buyers see too much work in having to customise a space to suit their needs, this may turn them off from making an offer, or they will reflect a discounted value in the offered price.  Depending on the age and date of the wallpaper, it may need to be removed or painted over to neutralise the look.”  

10. Odours

Bad odours can be very off-putting to viewers, especially if the smells are the type to linger when you’ve moved out. This includes cigarette smoke, pets and even cooking smells.

Remedy: Ruban Selvanayagam and James Durr, co-founders of Property Solvers,  have some great ideas on eliminating odours: “Obvious as it may sound, spending a day or two giving the property a good clean will work wonders. This means getting rid of any signs of cooking, pet smells or other lingering odours. Ensure the upholstery, cushions covers and sheets are fresh.  Remember to aerate the property before viewings and you may want to add in some flowers and plants to make the home feel ‘alive’.”

11. No kerb appeal

Kerb appeal is essentially the attractiveness of the outside of your home and it’s often the lead photograph on the online property listing. So, the state of the front of your house can determine whether or not a house hunter will click on your listing on Rightmove, Zoopla and so on.

Remedy: The Property Solvers team explained it’s vital to improve your kerb appeal: “People will often make up their minds within the first 10 seconds of visiting the property. For this reason, create ‘kerb appeal’ by ensuring the exterior of your property looks welcoming. A tidy garden, clear entrance path, external lighting and a nice mat in the entrance hall are all subtle touches that can often create a great first impression”

12. Outdated bathroom or kitchen

The avocado bathroom suite may have looked good in the 70s, but now they’re seen as outdated. The reason potential buyers are put off by outdated bathrooms and kitchens not, say, living rooms, is because it’s a lot more expensive to replace them. But why should you spend the money replacing the bathroom in a house you intend to move out of soon? Ugo from Onyx Property Consultants adds “Most other rooms it will be a simple case of painting and perhaps changing flooring/carpeting, but since kitchens and bathrooms include fixtures and appliances, they can become dated fast so it’s important to spend money to keep them up to date.”

Remedy: You don’t have to spend a fortune renovating your bathroom – just a plain white suite will do. As for the kitchen cupboards, all you really need to do is inexpensive touches like updating the kitchen units handles or repainting the cupboards. In fact, the team at Property Solvers say: “Make sure the grouting in the bathroom is looking smooth and neat. If things are looking bad or outdated, it may be worth investing some money into re-tiling. A simple white or pale grey usually makes a good impression.”

Golden rule

Some deal breakers can’t be changed, although there are ways to get around this. Simon from Robinson Jackson, says “If a seller knows that their second bedroom is a box room really only suitable as an office, obtaining planning permission for an extension or a third bedroom will give potential buyers options without the construction cost.”

“Buyers need to be realistic when agreeing on the value of their home, taking in to account how much it may cost a buyer to put issues right and also a ‘compromise’ factor,” advises Simon, “It’s sensible for sellers to look at what properties like theirs in their immediate location have recently sold for, so they’re not pricing themselves out of the market. They can use Zoopla, Land Registry or their estate agent’s database to find out sold prices.”

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