This is a question homeowners and landlords often ask in the belief that having new aesthetic work carried out on a property may improve its chance of selling. With very many people looking to sell in anticipation of Brexit, I want to look at those factors that actually affect property values and those that should be taken into consideration.
Supply and Demand
The first determination of value is supply and demand. Is the property market generally rising or declining? It may be that the national average value may be down, but that your locality may not be.
If there is a surplus supply of any commodity and no demand for it, the price is likely to be very low. If demand outstrips supply, however, the price will be higher due to scarcity or a perceived scarcity. So, put simply, if all homeowners and landlords decide to sell at the same time, property prices would fall.
So, what is your first step towards selling your property? Answer: You ask us to carry out a free valuation.
Be assured, we won’t just whip out ‘comparables’ from Rightmove or Zoopla; we will carry out meticulous research and provide you with a detailed comparison matrix and local market report that will give you a much more realistic valuation than any other agent.
Location, Accessibility and Aspect
It is a truism of property valuation that the key factor is ‘location, location, location’. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter what aesthetic improvements you make to a property, they will not help the appraisal if that property is in a bad location. If a desirable area has high demand, such as it being a good school’s catchment area, property prices there will always remain high.
Accessibility is a key factor in a city like London. Does your property have good access to commuter routes and public transport like the Underground, the DLR, overground trains and rail networks, and night buses? Does it have proximity to a particular A-road, or even accessibility to good schools?
You’re probably wondering what ‘aspect’ is? Well, aspect is how and where a property is situated. You’d be surprised how many buyers and even tenants select a compass app on their mobile to check if a garden is south-facing or a bedroom is east-facing. A fantastic view from a loft bedroom seems appealing, but if that loft bedroom is situated on top of a hill, it could be exposed to severe weather. Is your property unknowingly in a historically flood-prone area? You can get a history of a property here.
Property Type, Style, Age, Size, Condition, Ownership Status
Sometimes, the simplest things can be the easiest to forget. For example, if your property is a Victorian terraced house, it will have a lower value than a semi-detached or detached house. And surprisingly, even less than a bungalow! You’ll need to check if your property is competing against these types of property in your area.
Does your property have any style elements that add to its kerb appeal, for example, a pretty, wrought-iron garden gate in front of your house? Or an ornate gable that makes your house look like a fairy-tale gingerbread house? We’ve put together some ideas for you that can help enhance your property’s visual appeal: Maximise your kerb appeal.
In regards to a property’s age, you’ll have to work out for yourself whether this is a positive or negative influence. Some buyers may prefer original stripped wooden floors and single-glazed Victorian windows, for example, exactly because they are original features. Age of a property can both reduce and increase value depending on demographics.
The relative size of a property matters. Normally, a smaller area is cheaper than a bigger, but ‘size’ could also be the size of the land the property is sited on. To give you an example, a larger garden is still generally considered an advantage.
Condition of a property can simply mean it has sparklingly clean windows, fresh paintwork on outside railings and around the main doorframe and threshold. Is the property tidy-looking with neutral décor that will appeal to the majority? If you have a garden, is it neat and well-maintained?
Moving on to ownership. Is your property a leasehold or freehold? If leasehold, how many years are left? Properties with leases that have less than 80 years to run have become increasingly difficult to sell. Carry out some research to discover what you need to do to extend your lease.
Planning and Building Regulations
If you’ve lived in a property for a while, take a moment to check if there have been any alterations. If so, did you or the previous owner have planning permission to carry them out? What about building regulations approval? There are certain small additions to property that are ‘permitted developments’ but this would be different if your property is a listed building or is located in a conservation area.
It is important to find out whether the necessary approvals for alterations were obtained. If not and they should have been, then this will have a negative effect on the property’s value.
“What about adding a ground-floor toilet?”
Properties certainly have to stand out to sell and different features will help to distinguish one from another. Whether adding a porch and extra toilet will help is a common question. Fundamentally, our view is that these do not affect a property’s value, and if they do, then the effect is only marginal. However, for some, an extra toilet or porch could add to the property’s appeal and thereby have a positive impact on value; for example, a downstairs WC would be a useful feature for a mobility-impaired occupant.
There are few other, often-overlooked factors that can affect property value.
We touched on environmental factors such as flooding earlier but what about invasive plants? Have you inherited or been affected by your neighbour’s invasive plant? Japanese knotweed, for example, is so invasive and detrimental to a property that it can dramatically reduce the prospect of lending, even if it was merely reported to be present in the immediate neighbourhood.
Look carefully into your property’s construction method. In the latter half of the twentieth century, it was common practice for properties to be built with brick or stone external walls and thermal block internal walls with pitched roofs covered in tile or slate. But was your property built using concrete and steel beams? Is it timber-framed and built in the 1980s? Such properties are hard to get a mortgage for, so don’t be surprised if you haven’t had much luck selling these types.
The Green Deal can also affect value. This was a government scheme to help homeowners make energy efficient improvements to their properties. Although this scheme no longer operates, the original loan was and remains linked to the property, not the occupiers, so this too can affect the property’s value.
Look into local issues. Is there a plan to build a factory near you? Yes, this can happen, even in London. What about new incineration or landfill sites? Will there be a release of green belt to new developments that was previously untouchable? What are the crime rates in the area? All of these can affect the value of a property.
So, what’s the verdict?
We’ve looked at the various factors that can affect property values and it is clear that aesthetics alone will not increase the value of your property. Our recommendation is firstly for you to have clarity about the timing of your sale (i.e., do you need to sell as soon as possible or can you wait for the best price?) and to consult a trusted agent like us who will provide you with a carefully researched and customised appraisal rather than a one-size-fits-all valuation.