Study reveals the secrets that makes a home sell

sold property

Estate agents don't have the best reputation for clear communication. As they show you round the shoebox above a kebab shop you can't help but recall details of the 'easy-to-maintain' property that's 'close to local amenities'.

However, while over-sugaring the pill does no-one any good, we can learn a valuable lesson from the language of our local estate agents... a lesson that could make all the difference when you're trying to sell your home.

Phrases that pay

Estate agents may go a bit over the top in their glowing property descriptions, but in each local area they have learned the phrases that pay in property descriptions. When we're trying to sell up in this environment, it's worth understanding the features they tend to highlight, and see whether we can accentuate those aspects of our property.


Aviva has published the results of a study of over 5 million property listings. It said that the most striking trend nationwide was for high-spec interiors, which are mentioned in 257,000 property descriptions.

Some of these are impractical to install in a bid to sell, but we can work on the quality of the finishes in some areas, such as installing a granite work surface, or marble flooring.

Other high-spec features which can be a doddle to install are ceiling speakers, walk-in wardrobes and built-in entertainment centres. Some properties even list the brands of appliances such as Smeg or Miele, which you could take with you when you go but which give off an air of quality.

Commenting on the research, Heather Smith, director of home insurance at Aviva said: "We all fall in love with properties for different reasons, and while the character and charm of a home is a matter of personal taste, it seems that assets such as smart flooring and on-trend kitchen brands are as important to some buyers as transport links and schools."

Are UK house prices set to rocket?


It's worth understanding the role your garden plays in selling your property. In London, gardens merit the most mentions in estate agency blurb, because space is at a premium. If you have a property in the capital with a garden, make sure curtains are thrown open and window sills are clear, so it can be seen at its best. Clear the clutter, and weed it to within an inch of its life, to make the space seem as big as possible.

Elsewhere gardens are more common, so to make it a selling point you'll need to do something bit different. If you're lucky enough to have a well-planted and mature garden facing south, that's a major selling point in itself.

If not, consider joining the trend of blurring the boundary between indoors and out. Some built-in seating, a patio and a heater, and you have an 'outdoor room' that merits an estate agency mention.

10 top ways to add value to your home
See Gallery
Study reveals the secrets that makes a home sell

Of course with all these things, the value it adds depends on the property you have to start with, and the kinds of improvements you make, but Which? estimates the cost of a new kitchen at £8,000 and HSBC calculates the added value to your property at £4,500 - which is a clear loss.

This has been done by 41% of people in the last three years, and 29% of people plan it in the next three. It's cheaper than a kitchen, and Which? estimates the cost at £3,000. This is roughly the same value that HSBC says it will add to your property - so you'll break-even.

It may be difficult, but getting your property ready for sale means depersonalising it. 

Clutter can distract viewers and more than half (60%) of the property valuers who took part in the 2012 HSBC Home Improvement Survey said that the number one way to increase a property's chance of selling quickly, and for a good price, was to de-clutter.

This has been installed by 31% of us in the last three years, and 15% plan it in the next three. Installing central heating is a disruptive job, and according to WhatPrice it will cost you around £3,235. However, this is the first of the top ten to actually pay off. Property expert Phil Spencer says it will add £5,000 to the value.

A quick splash of paint can work wonders on tired-looking walls, and sticking to neutral tones is the safest bet.

Keeping the colour scheme simple, fresh and inviting will help potential buyers to see themselves living in your home.

Some 18% have added one in the last three years, and 30% will in the next three. This is another huge job, but with more people struggling to move and deciding to improve instead, it's increasingly popular. The amount it costs will depend on an enormous number of things, from the area you have to work with, to the size of the extension. However, assuming you add a single room you could spend around £20,000. HSBC estimates it will add around £15,500 to the value of the property, so you are unlikely to gain as much as you spend.

According to Halifax valuers, loft conversions - which require lofts with a roof height of at least 2.4 metres - are a good way to increase the potential sale price of your home.

Be sure to stick to your budget, though. The average loft conversion will cost between £10,000 and £30,000, while HSBC's figures show that they typically add £20,876 to the value of a property.

Putting in new windows adds around £5,265 to the value of the average property and can reap big rewards when it comes to energy efficiency.

It is, however, sensible to ensure that your new windows are in line with the style of your property to maximise the added value - particularly as putting them in can set you back about £5,000.

Off road parking or a garage can be especially advantageous in areas where parked cars line both sides on the street.

Nationwide's figures show that adding a garage, which can cost anything between £8,000 and £25,000, can increase the value of your property by 11%.

Outside space is just as important as inside - especially when people are seeing your home for the first time.

While 63% of the HSBC survey expert respondents said that repainting or varnishing a front door would make a difference, only 23% of homeowners recognised this. Peter Dockar at HSBC said: "It is often the smaller jobs like painting the front door that can make all the difference when looking for a sale."


The ambiance of the area is often mentioned in property descriptions. There's very little you can do to change your area, but you can reflect it in the property.

Estate agents outside London often talk about peaceful or tranquil locations. This can be reflected in the interior decor, with subdued tones and country-styling. Within London it's far more common to mention the cafe culture and local entertainment. If this is one of the draws to your property, you can reflect this in modern photographs of this sort of culture on your walls.

The basics

Schools and transport links merit a mention in estate agency brochures. Of course, you cannot change these, but it's worth doing your research and making any buyers aware of the positives.

Schools are a particular selling point in the South East. It's worth checking the catchment areas, and highlighting this to any buyers. Transport is also a big deal in a commuter area, so time the walk to the station, and check the timetables for journey times, so you can offer a clear and informed picture to buyers.

10 wealthiest small towns in the UK
See Gallery
Study reveals the secrets that makes a home sell

Windsor is top of the tables for the UK's wealthiest towns and villages, according to research published by WealthInsight. The Berkshire town is home to 850 dollar millionaires (people with assets of more than US$1m, or £653,424)


Weybridge is second in England with a population of 19,500 and 800 to 850 millionaires.

Sevenoaks has a population of 18,500 and between 800 to 850 millionaires.

Andrew Amolis, analyst at WealthInsight said Beaconsfield's position, at number four, was "unsurprising." "It has the highest average house price outside of London (over US$750,000 per home). It also has the highest average income per household of US$110,000."

Henley-on-Thames, at number five on the list, is the town where numbers of millionaires is growing fastest, the research suggests. The number of so-called high net worth individuals increased by 25% between 2007 and 2012. "This compares very well with general UK millionaire numbers which declined by 9% over that period," said Andrew Amolis, analyst at WealthInsight.

Marlow just missed out on a top five rank with 14,000 inhabitants and between 350 and 400 millionaires in residence.

Hale is the highest-rated town closest to Manchester with a population of 15,300 and between 300 and 350 millionaires.

"Alderley Edge is considered to be the most affluent town in the North West, particularly Whitebarn Road which is one of the most expensive streets in the UK," said Andrew Amolis, analyst at WealthInsight.

Bray is number nine on the list and is home to Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck restaurant. Bray has a population of 4,600 and counts more than 300 millionaires among its residents.

Ascot finishes tenth in the list with a population of 11,600 and between 250 to 300 millionaires.


More stories
Read Full Story