The 10 biggest turn-offs stopping people buying your home

Cluttered house puts off house buyers

Selling your home is a stressful business, and at a time when buyers are being incredibly picky, it can take endless viewings before anyone shows any real interest in taking it off your hands. It's easy to get fed up with the endless cleaning, tidying and preparations for viewings - and to decide that buyers will have to take you as they find you. But that would be a huge mistake. A new study has revealed ten things you need to sort if you're going to stand any chance of selling your home.

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The study, by internet blinds provider, found that the average buyer looks at 11 houses before making an offer. It means you'll need to suffer through an average of 11 viewings before selling yours.

It then asked buyers to name the things that were most likely to put them off a home - which should be the areas where you focus your preparations.

1. Dirty rooms (53%)
We all have different views of what constitutes a clean home, so when you're selling, it's best to err on the side of 'immaculate'. If you have a big family, a well-used house, or pets, it's worth getting a professional deep clean before you start, so you can just top it up on a regular basis - and again before each viewing. You may not notice the fact that the bathroom shelves have got dusty or that there's dog hair on the skirting boards, but your buyers certainly will.

2. Single-glazed windows (47%)
There's not a vast amount you can do about this, but you can avoid drawing attention to it. If you have taken obvious and dramatic draft-proofing measures, and stuck anything over the windows, it's best to undo them before any viewings, or buyers will assume that the house is constantly freezing.

3. A death in the property (41%)
Nobody is suggesting you'd leave evidence of this kind of thing. However, if you are selling on behalf of an elderly relative who passed away in the home, it might be best to hide away any signs that someone was living there in their last few months - including any medical aids or equipment.

4. Evidence of dog ownership (40%)
Clearing up the hair is a good start, but don't overlook the smell either. It's well worth getting an honest friend to come round and tell you if they can smell dog. If it's a problem, you can air the rooms and invest in air fresheners. Even if you have an immaculately clean dog, it's worth clearing away baskets and bowls, so it doesn't ring alarm bells.

5. Mould issues (38%)
It's not a good idea to hide a mould problem - you need to solve it. This usually means much better ventilation of the property, and possibly a dehumidifier. Once you have solved the problem, it's worth getting rid of any mould from earlier. Wash the windows and walls thoroughly, paint over any stains with specialist paint, and consider replacing any sealant where mould has become established underneath.

6. Cluttered rooms (29%)
You may well have got used to how much furniture you have, and the quantity of belongings in each room, but as a basic rule of thumb, you will need to remove at least a third of your possessions to make the rooms look clear and uncluttered. If you can't bear to part with them, you can put the extra items in the garage, or rent some space for the short-term. It may seem like a lot of effort, but it's worth every second you spend clearing the clutter.

7. Untidy gardens (25%)
Gardens add so much to a property value that you're doing yourself a massive disservice if you don't make the most of yours. It's worth doing heavy weeding, serious pruning, and laying down a layer of bark, so the garden looks neat and defined for viewers. At this time of year, you'll also need to be out there every weekend to maintain it - regardless of how green your fingers are.

8. Old fashioned carpets (22%)
What you choose to do about this will depend on how much of it you have, and how much the property is worth. Buyers will automatically reduce the price in their mind if they don't like the look of the carpets - and some will be put off entirely - so if there's just one or two offenders, and the rooms are relatively small, it may pay to replace it with something cheap and neutral.

9. Strange current owners (20%)
This seems an odd one, but there's no telling what buyers will make of you - no matter how nice you are. It's one reason why some people will leave the viewings to estate agents - just in case they don't hit it off with the buyer. If you choose to do viewings yourself, try to be nice, and if you don't like the look of your potential buyers, try not to make it obvious - you don't need to like them in order to take their money.

10. No central heating (17%)
This one isn't something you can do much about, but again you can try not to make too much of a fuss of the cold. If you cover the furniture with throws and blankets, and leave cardigans and slippers strewn about the place, people will see it as a freezing nightmare. If you leave the place clear of this kind of clutter, they can make up their own minds as to whether they'll be able to live without central heating.

Given that clutter is seen as less desirable than a house with no central heating, and dirty rooms as more of a problem than single glazing, clearly it's well worth putting in the time and trouble to prepare your home carefully before each viewing - no matter how fed up with it you get.

The ten most valuable home improvements
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The ten most valuable home improvements

If you have the cash (and the planning permission) by far the best way to add value is to increase the floor space, by either converting the attic or extending into the garden. Work that adds an extra bedroom will typically add 12% to the value of the property, so a £20,000 outlay will easily add at least this much value. 
If this is beyond your budget, you should focus on increasing the space through clever storage solutions. In a bedroom, for example, by investing in clever under-bed storage, adding high shelves, and investing in taller wardrobes, you can turn a cramped single room into a spacious one - or convert a single into a double.

This is a surprisingly cost-effective way to boost the value. Admittedly you'll have an outlay of anywhere between £5,000 and £30,000, but if you choose a style that complements the architecture of your home, match the flooring to the rest of the downstairs, and make sure the conservatory feels like part of the rest of the house, you can add 7% to the value of the property.
If you live in an area where parking is in high demand, then by turning the front garden into a drive you can add as much as £40,000 to the value of the property. You may need planning permission, and you will have to apply to the council to have the curb lowered, but the time and money will be repaid several times over. Rather than chucking down tarmac, it's worth looking at a garden that incorporates greenery, which will mean you're not contributing to the flood risks in the area.
If you are selling in the near future, this is important, because you need to entice people in. At the very least paint the front door and touch up painting on the windows. You should also fix any guttering and give it all a good clean. Your home should stand out for the right reasons.
This is where most people will spend a good chunk of their time at home, so not only will you add value, you'll also benefit from any changes most. If you can stretch to a new kitchen you could add 5% to the value of your property. However, if you don't have the thousands of pounds required for that kind of change, just by replacing the doors for something more modern, putting down stylish flooring, and investing in fashionable appliances, you can add significant value.
You don't need to spend much. If you already have serviceable white suite, you can add a chrome heated towel rail, glass screen instead of a shower curtain, new mirror, or even a power shower, and you can add value to the property without the disruption and expense of a new bathroom.
This isn't cheap, but if the house is short of bathrooms, building one can add 10% to the value of the home. Increasingly buyers will come to expect them, so you'll dramatically add to the number of potential buyers by being able to tick that box.
The Energy Saving Trust estimates that if you upgrade from an old gas heavyweight boiler to a new condenser boiler, someone living in the average three bed-room semi could save around £500 a year. The costs involved mean that it could take just over three years before you start seeing a financial return, but from then on you're in the money.
In a poorly insulated attic, around 30% of all the heat in your house is going straight upstairs to escape out of the roof. This simple DIY job will save you £200 a year or more on your heating bills - so will pay you back almost immediately.
Artex ceiling or wall

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