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1 Aug 2020

Five features that could help you sell your house

Discover how long properties take to sell and how much value a garden adds

UK house sales take an average of 144 days from start to finish, according to a new report.

So if you're thinking of moving home to take advantage of the recent stamp duty cuts, you might need to get your skates on.

Here, Which? explains the key features that could make your home more attractive to buyers, whose priorities have changed after the Coronavirus lockdown.

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Government looks to kick-start property market

The property market is back up and running, and the government's move to cut stamp duty until March 2021 could see sales pick up in the next few months.

Home movers progressing up the property ladder in England and Northern Ireland are likely to enjoy the biggest tax savings.

The temporary stamp duty threshold of £500,000 means people buying a property for half-a-million pounds will save £15,000 in tax.

How long do properties take to sell?

New research by GetAgent claims it takes an average of 144 days - or around 20 weeks - to sell a property.

Its report found Wigan (86 days), North Lanarkshire and Bolsover (both 91 days) were the areas where homes sold most quickly.

At the other end of the table, the City of London (271 days), Aberdeenshire (269 days) and Moray (261 days) had the slowest sales.

These figures are based on the time between properties being first listed on the market and sales being completed on the Land Registry.

Earlier research by the Post Office in late 2019 found it takes an average of 114 days - around 16 weeks - to sell a property.

Features that make houses more attractive

The COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in people spending much more time at home and buyers reassessing their priorities - and there's more to it than location, location, location.

The prospect of spending less time at the office in the future has seen some buyers seek properties further afield, or prioritise those with more space.

If you're looking to sell, you'll need to think about the key features of your home and how you can accentuate them to buyers.

1. A south-facing garden

New research by Rightmove found homes with a south-facing garden sell for around 7% (£22,000) more than those without.

It also discovered that homes with gardens tend to sell more quickly and buyer demand is soaring as movers seek outdoor space after the lockdown.

Miles Shipside of Rightmove says a garden is 'certainly something to shout' when selling your home.

He says: 'The key is to have the garden looking its very best for pictures and viewings.

'A quick lick of paint to a garden fence or shed, mowing the lawn and putting out some garden chairs can give buyers the chance to picture their new lifestyle.'

2. A blank canvas

You can't magic up a south-facing garden, but perhaps you can do more to make your home look attractive to buyers.

Before getting a valuation, de-clutter your property and ensure it is clean and tidy, making the most of the available space.

If the property feels a bit tired, consider giving rooms a lick of paint (in a neutral colour) or replacing fixtures such as door handles and taps.

Take advice from a trusted local estate agent before making any major home improvements, however.

After all, you don't want to spend thousands replacing a kitchen only for a buyer to do the same as it isn't to their taste.

3. A home working space

COVID-19 has seen a huge shift towards home working and has pushed home office space right up the list of buyer priorities.

Indeed, recent research by the estate agency Savills found 44% of under-40s will prioritise a place to work from home when searching for a new property.

There was a time when the value of a home would be predicted based on the number of bedrooms, but it may be time to rethink the use of that box room.

Rather than cramming a single bed or futon into the spare room, could it be transformed into a home office instead?

home office

4. A good internet connection

High-speed internet has become a necessity rather than a feature, so expect it to come up when prospective buyers view your property.

You don't necessarily need to have a new set-up installed, but finding out whether the property is compatible for super-fast fibre broadband could make a difference. You can do this by inputting your postcode on provider websites.

Discover whether your current connection is up-to-scratch by using our broadband speed test.

5. Energy efficiency

Buyers are increasingly interested in ensuring their homes are as green as possible.

Before you sell, get an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) inspection done. This will show you your current efficiency grade (A-G) and your potential grade if you make improvements.

It probably won't be cost-effective to rip out a heating system or replace all of your windows, but consider whether major drawbacks such as expensive storage heaters could put buyers off.

As a starting point, look at your previous energy bills and compare how your home stacks up against average costs for similar properties.

And if you have a system (such as a smart thermostat) that monitors and allows you to control your energy usage, it's worth pointing this out to buyers.

lightbulb and epc

Preparing your home for sale

Selling your home can be a complicated business, but we're here to help.

Our step-by-step guide to selling walks you through the process from start to finish, including advice on everything from getting your property valued to exchange and completion.