What is putting buyers off your home?

From damp to clutter and nasty smells: the 20 things putting buyers off your home

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One of the great mysteries of the housing market is why some properties just won't sell. After endless months on the market, and hundreds of people trooping around your lounge, there's still nobody prepared to take it off your hands. As an owner, it can be impossible to think objectively about what's stopping people from wanting your home.

However, you don't need to tear your hair out wondering what is putting people off, because researchers have revealed the 20 things most likely to be scuppering the sale.

1. The research, by GoCompare found that by far the biggest turn-off for buyers is damp - which would put 67% of people off buying a property. Any damp patches, stained walls or ceilings should be treated, and then redecorated, otherwise people will be wandering around your home assuming it's a cold and miserable place to spend the winter in.

2. The second most serious problem is a property in a poor state of repair - which would alarm 60% of people. You might not think the peeling paint on the windows or the wobbly back door is anything to worry about, but buyers will assume that this is the tip of the iceberg, and that the closer they look, the more things they'll find that they need to repair.

Ben Wilson, from Gocompare.com home insurance said: "If you're looking to sell your home it's important to make sure it's well presented, both inside and out, to make it as appealing as possible to would-be buyers. Buying a home is a big financial commitment and most house-hunters will want to think that the property they're buying has been well looked after by its current owners."

3. A lack of parking would put 55% of people off. If you have the time and energy, it's not impossible to change your front garden into a parking spot, and apply for the right permissions to lower the curb. In areas where parking is a problem, this could definitely make your property stand out from the crowd.

4. Some 54% of people would be worried if there was no garden. In many flats there's really nothing you can do about this, and you have to hope to sell to the 46% of people who don't mind. However, if there's some garden belonging to the building, then it may be worth at least asking whether it's feasible or affordable to buy some of the garden from them. Even if you don't choose to do this, you can pass the information along to the estate agent and any potential buyers.

5. Bad smells - from pets to food and cigarettes - put off a shocking 53% of people. If you are a fan of smelly food or you smoke, you'll need to air the property thoroughly before any viewing - or consider curbing your habits until the property is sold.

6. Unfinished building work would put 53% of people off. Even those who don't mind doing some work on the property are going to be concerned about jobs abandoned halfway through. Wilson warns: "Unfinished or badly carried out work can be expensive to remedy and can detract from the value of your property as well as deterring potential buyers." So it's worth doing everything you can to finish jobs before you try to sell.

7. Poor natural light and dark rooms worry 46% of people. You can, however, work with what you have. It's worth looking into how you light rooms to make the most of them. At the very least, your windows should be sparkling clean and your curtains minimal in order to let in as much light as possible.

8. Small rooms are off-putting for 45% of people. It might not be worth knocking through a couple of rooms at this stage, but if other people on the street have done so, then it can be something you point out to potential buyers when they are looking around.

9. Bad DIY leaves 42% of people worrying that your home could be a money pit. If repairs need to be done before you can sell, ask yourself if you have the skills to do a good job, or whether it's worth investing in a professional.

10. Small kitchens are a turn-off for 40% of people. If you have a small kitchen, then it's worth considering how a buyer could make the most of it, or knock it through into another room. It's important to have something to say to keep them interested if they walk into your kitchen and say 'oh this is small...'

11. A dirty house would put off 36% of people - which is perhaps the easiest problem of all to solve. Wilson said: "Bad housekeeping can kill a sale. During a viewing many buyers will try to imagine themselves living in the property, so a dirty home and nasty niffs can be a big put-off. A good spring-clean is one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to create bright, fresh airy rooms and increase the saleability of your home."

12. Stone cladding, rendering or pebble dash on the outside walls are off-putting for 27% of people. The work required to remove it is highly unlikely to repay itself at this stage, so you are left making the most of what you have. Try to make more of a feature of the garden, so there's at least some curb appeal when people arrive.

13. Wooden windows would put off 23% of people. This is an odd one, because there will be as many people looking for original period windows, or sympathetic wooden double-glazing, as there are looking for UPVC. In any case, if you have wooden windows, it's vital to make sure they are in a good condition.

14. An outdated kitchen would put off 23% of people. Rather than considering a makeover, you can be surprised how much difference a coat of paint and refurbished cabinet doors can make.

15. An overgrown garden puts 21% of people off, so even though you are moving out, it doesn't mean you can afford to leave the garden for the new owners to worry about.

16. Artex or textured ceilings would put 19% of people off. Given the proliferation of these finishes, it's arguably something that a potential buyer can overcome if your home has everything else going for it. However, if your textured ceilings are something of a feature, it could be worth looking into the cost of having them skimmed.

17. General untidiness would put 16% of people off - so it's unforgivable not to tidy up before a viewing.

18. Dated or over-the-top carpets would put 14% of people off. Whether or not you choose to do anything about this will depend on just how many of them you have, and how much they dominate your home. If you have struggled to sell for a while, you could at least consider replacing some of the most striking ones with a neutral carpet, so people can see past the swirls to find the potential in your home.

19. Cluttered rooms apparently put 13% of people off, so you should have a sort-out before you market your home, and try to pare things down to the bare minimum.

20. Dated or over-the-top decor puts 13% of people off, so a very large tin of white paint could make all the difference.

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