The people who affect house prices

For sale signThe value of a home is determined by lots of factors – how attractive it is, how many bedrooms and bathrooms it has, the size of the garden. There's also proximity to transport links, schools, shops and amenities.

However, various people can also directly and indirectly affect how much a home is worth, for good and for bad.
Estate agents
A profession that isn't loved by many, but estate agents are still key parts in many property chains. They have the power to push a price higher, depending on how many other people are in the running for a home and how liberal they want to be with the truth to the buyers.

In some cases, they can also do more harm than good by initially overvaluing a property, leading to it sitting on the market for months. The worst case scenario here is the home eventually sells for less than it would have done had it been priced realistically in the first place, as buyers can see it has been on sale for some time.

Sometimes a quick-moving solicitor can be the difference between getting the home at the price you want and getting into a bidding war or missing out entirely. If the buyer needs a quick sale, they're more likely to do a deal with someone who has a flexible solicitor who can push through the sale so it suits them.

Research by Halifax concluded that anti-social neighbours could take £31,000 off the price of an average home.

If you're selling, you should declare any problems you've had on a Seller's Property Information Form, otherwise you could face a claim later on. Find out more in What should you declare when selling your home?

Potential buyers who had the time and inclination could drive or walk past at different times of the day. Or you could have a chat with some locals in a nearby pub.

Could you pay less for your home insurance? Compare policies now

Local councillors
While an increase in Council Tax might not be too much of a deterrent to a potential buyer, plans to grant permission for new homes, a mobile phone mast or wind turbines could knock an asking price down.

If you're a buyer, the local council should have details of any future planning applications and you can search them for a small fee. It might also be worth picking up a copy of the local newspaper to see what is going on in the area.

On the plus side, permission for a new supermarket (the arrival of a Waitrose has been seen as a sign that an area is on the way up) and other amenities could be good news for both buyer and seller.

Teachers and school governors
An outstanding local school can add around 8% to the value of a home, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. On the flipside, a not so good Ofsted report can take off a similar amount.

If you're concerned about a school's performance, and not just because of its effect on the price of your home, one way to get involved is to become a governor. This will take up some of your free time but in return you will hopefully be making a difference to your local community.

10 top ways to add value to your home
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The people who affect house prices

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."

A lot of traffic in an area obviously has an effect on air quality. This hasn't been so much of an issue in the past, as the information wasn't readily available.

However, since 1997 each local authority in the UK has carried out studies of the air quality in its area. If an area falls below a national benchmark for air quality, it has to be declared an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA). This will now show up on the searches conducted during the conveyancing process.

Recently, some residents of the Llandaff area of Cardiff expressed concern that it had become an AQMA due to an increase in traffic and the potential implications for house prices in the area. Whether this does become a more widespread issue remains to be seen.

Mortgage availability is a key driver of property prices. After all, if no-one can take out a mortgage, then prices will stall and eventually fall as people who absolutely have to sell cut their price. We've seen this happen in parts of the UK in recent years, as lenders tightened up their criteria following the credit crunch.
Conversely, good mortgage availability will mean more people are competing for properties, and this can be to a seller's advantage if their home is particularly desirable.

The Government
Much broader, but Government policy can have an impact on property prices. For example, initiatives such as the current Help To Buy scheme, which offers an interest-free loan of up to 20% of a home's value, have been credited with pushing house prices up, as more people have the means to buy.

Similarly, a buoyant economy with strong employment gives people the confidence to buy and leads to an upward shift in house prices, while rises in unemployment have the reverse effect.

And planning restrictions, at both a national and local government level, affect the number of homes in a particular area. If there is a shortage of supply in a sought-after location, then prices will almost inevitably rise.

10 wealthiest small towns in the UK
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The people who affect house prices

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

The UK postcodes deemed 'high risk' by car insurers
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The people who affect house prices
BD 2,9,10
BH 3-5, 7-9

M 25-29, 32, 34-35, 38, 43, 45-46

CR 0,4,7
DA 8,14-18

DH 5

N 2, 4-6, 8, 10-11, 13, 15-17, 19, 22

RM 1, 6, 9-10, 12

LS 1-13, 15-16, 19, 26-27

E 10-15, 17

IG 3, 9-10

S 4, 9, 11, 13-14, 60-61

SW 1, 3-7, 10, 12-20

W 1-2, 5-6, 8-9, 12, 14

WC 1-2, 99
CH 41-42, 44
CF 5,10-11,14,23-24,63-64
NW 3, 10
DN 1, 4-5, 11-12
EN 2-4
HX 1, 3
NE 2-3, 7, 12, 27-29, 32-33, 36-37, 39
OL 1-5, 7-9, 15
SE 1-2, 4-8, 10-11, 13-19, 21-28
SK 1, 4, 14-16
SM 4, 6
TS 3-4, 6, 10, 20
TW 1, 9, 11
WA 13
UB 5, 7-8
WF 3, 11
WN 1-4, 7
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