It is the burning question for anyone looking to sell something: how can I get the most for what I have? Selling a car normally involves a thorough clean inside and out, paying special attention to that dubious looking stain on the dashboard that's had you puzzled and slightly on edge ever since you spotted it. Selling something smaller on eBay is simpler still: a few flattering photographs and a favourable description that only omits some of the item's minor flaws and you're good to go. But how do you go about selling your home, or more importantly, how do you add as much value as physically possible without getting Grand Designs and Ground Force involved?
We thought it would be interesting to find out what people look for when buying a new home, and what they generally try to avoid. So, with this in mind we asked people up and down the country to choose from a list of factors that would both persuade them to buy certain properties, and dissuade them from others. The data we got back yielded some interesting results, so we've used it to compile a list of 3 key areas you may need to address if you want to add value to your home.
With over half of respondents citing local crime rates as their biggest concern when searching for a new place to live, it appears that those living in deprived areas are at an immediate disadvantage. Unfortunately, if you do live in such an area and find that Alfred's taken off in the batmobile then you may have your hands tied somewhat. It's therefore worth mentioning that what this list aims to do is address the elements that we CAN control, rather than focus on those we can't...
1. Give your home a 'light and airy feel'
Crime aside, when asked what would encourage people to buy a property the most, a 'light and airy feel' came out on top with 17% of the overall vote. Making sure that your rooms receive plenty of natural light can therefore stand you in good stead. Again though, circumstance does have a say and if you live in a heavily built up area where natural light is scarce, you may feel slightly impotent. Tom Pratt, manager of LightBulbs Direct and one of Britain's brightest minds on the subject of lighting, has some advice that will hopefully cheer those that find themselves in this situation though:
It’s really interesting to see that such a high proportion of the public would be put off by dark and unlit rooms when looking for their new home, so we would recommend to anyone in the housing market to ensure all their light bulbs are working correctly and their property is bright and welcoming.
Bright, energy efficient LEDs are great at mimicking natural light and a well-planned lighting scheme can certainly make your home appear brighter, fresher and more open. So, if you do live in a flat, cave or Manchester, then a refresh of your lighting is always an option.
Contrary to popular opinion though, lighting doesn't just serve as a mundane way of stopping people from bumping into their furniture when it gets dark - it can also be used to decorate the home and make it a more pleasant to live, so giving some thought to HOW you light it might also be worthwhile.
2. Efficiency is key
Over a third of respondents said that they would be prepared to spend up to an additional £15,000 on a property with a high EPC rating. Curiously though, only 60% actually confirmed that they knew what an EPC rating was.
I'll admit it. I didn't at first either. However, with a little digging it turns out that EPC stands for Energy Performance Certificate and is an assessment of a home's energy efficiency, set on a scale of A to G. Any new appliance you buy for your home will normally come festooned with stickers, most of which pertain to its energy consumption; look out for the one with a series of coloured bars that get progressively greener towards the top - this is its EPC rating.
19% of respondents said they wouldn't purchase a home with an EPC rating below C, so make sure all your major appliances (from light bulbs to washing machines to dishwashers to fridges) have a rating of C or above. 'For buyers conscious of EPC ratings and energy-efficiency, investing in energy-saving light bulbs can significantly reduce household bills and also last up to 90% longer than other bulbs' - says Tom.
It's worth noting that this is good practice even if you're not looking to sell anything at all. Kitting out your home with energy efficient appliances can shave hundreds of pounds off your energy bill each year whilst slashing your carbon footprint.
Another pertinent point to be stressed - especially at this time of year as we hurtle towards winter - is the value in ensuring that your home is properly insulated. A building's ability to retain heat has a huge say in how much energy it uses, so make sure your windows aren't haemorrhaging heat and ensure there's plenty of insulation in your loft - if you have one.
3. Put in the hard yards
It goes without saying that most people probably wouldn't fancy moving into a house that looks half finished or unloved. Even those that aren't inherently lazy might resent handing over their life savings for a house without a fully functioning toilet. In fact, 31% of respondents said they'd be put off buying a property if it required a lot of work.
Now, we're not implying that a loft conversion or turning your garage into a fourth bedroom are your only options (though that would certainly help), but making sure that the light switches work and that the kitchen has had a facelift since the 80s is going to do you a world of good. And for the love of god, make sure the bath's plumbed in.
Other factors that people consider when buying a new home include size - with 24% of respondents stating that a small property would put them off - and a building's style (such as Georgian, Victorian etc.) with 13% of people expressing a fondness for historical buildings of a particular period. Again though, your ability to address these particular stipulations is somewhat predetermined so it's best not to worry about these too much.
This list is by no means exhaustive - there are hundreds of incremental adjustments that you can make that will add value to your property, so let your imagination run free - the options can be as wild as building a swimming pool in the garden or as mundane as replacing your fridge magnets - it's all a matter of how much you're willing to spend.
Finally, there is a wealth of material on our blog that highlights the importance of lighting within the home, including specific guides for the bedroom and bathroom. There's also an article on Eurovision, so check it out...