Home improvements that add value and the issues that take it away

Easy-to-fix issues that could devalue your home by up to £100k

Alongside classic home improvements like a kitchen refurb or an extension, our research showed the pandemic has led to cleanliness becoming more important than ever to buyers.

If you’re looking to sell, a dirty home could now seriously spoil your chances of getting a good offer. 43% of potential buyers say they now wouldn’t even arrange a viewing for a property if it looked unclean in the photos, and well over half (61%) say they’d place a lower offer if a property wasn’t clean when they viewed it.

There’s also a host of other easily fixable issues like scuffed paintwork and overgrown gardens that could lead to buyers reducing their offers. You could lose out on almost £10,000 just by having a messy and cluttered interior, and a dirty bathroom could mean potential buyers would look to pay around £9,000 less than if your bathroom looked sparkly clean.

The top 15 issues most likely to devalue your home in 2021 (and how much they’d knock off)

1Signs of damp / mould £9,571
2Cracks in walls£9,495
3Mess and clutter inside £9,290
4Scuffed paintwork and marked walls £9,254
5No double glazing £9,144
6Peeling wallpaper£9,023
7Dirty bathroom £8,966
8Rubbish / debris in the front garden / in front of the house £8,963
9Broken / missing fence panels in the garden / outside space £8,957
10Bad smells inside £8,947
11Dirty kitchen £8,882
12Outdated decor £8,851
13Dirty / stained furnishings, like carpet, curtains and sofas £8,849
14Overgrown garden £8,817
15Broken / damaged windows £8,624

Whilst these issues could knock tens of thousands off your asking price, most of them can easily be fixed in less than 48 hours and without breaking the bank.

So, if you’re looking to sell and you’re wanting to get a higher offer for your property, here’s how to fix all 15 of the issues most likely to devalue your home in 2021.

Signs of damp or mould
If it’s a surface issue, then cleaning off the mould using warm water and bleach is a great way to remove the mould and subsequent staining that it can leave behind. Leave to dry overnight and then apply an anti-fungal treatment to prevent future mould growth.

Cracks in walls
For hairline cracks, use ‘crack-free ceilings’ paint to cover them and stop them coming back. For small unsightly cracks in plaster, often found around doorframes and staircases, use filler and then paint over. For anything bigger, it’s best to seek professional advice.

Mess and clutter inside
Mess and clutter can be overwhelming, so we’d recommend you tackle it room by room, starting with the lounge and kitchen. If you’re tight for time and have a photographer coming or a viewing happening shortly, focus on clearing surfaces and floorspace, making any beds and opening all the curtains or blinds to allow rooms to look bright, airy and inviting.

Scuffed paintwork and marked walls
A repaint can completely reinvigorate a tired interior, and if you opt for white, it’s not only more affordable, but it’ll make your home feel bigger, fresher and cleaner, which should entice more buyers and higher offers.

No double glazing
This is one of the few items on the list that doesn’t have a quick fix, but could still increase your property value substantially and will keep your heating costs down until you sell. Seeking professional help is best for installing double glazing – find rated window fitters in your area.

Peeling wallpaper
There are two options for sorting this issue – you can either strip the whole wall and repaint it, or hang a different wallpaper for a complete refresh. Alternatively, if you have some of the original wallpaper left, just strip the peeling section, and rehang a new strip to repair the individual section.

Dirty bathroom
We all know that cleaning a bathroom is one of the least glamourous jobs in the house, but considering it can knock almost £9,000 off homebuyer offers, it’s well worth doing! To go one step further than shiny taps and clear shower screens, you could also look to replace the silicone around the bath. It’s fiddly but it will dramatically upgrade the look of your bathroom if the old one is coming away from the edges or is discoloured.

Rubbish or debris in the front garden
It’s a cliché for a good reason – first impressions count. So, if there’s rubbish or debris in your front garden, make sorting this a priority before putting your home on the market. Move unsightly bins to the back garden if possible and tidy the space so it looks well-kept and inviting. If you have large amounts of rubbish to clear, you may want to rent a large rubbish container or hire a local removals service to take care of the job for you.

Broken or missing fence panels
This is definitely one of the issues that can appear more labour intensive and costly than it is. Fence panels tend to come in standard sizes so it should be fairly easy to replace damaged or missing ones. A simple toolkit and a friendly helper is all you’ll need.

Bad smells inside
Bad smells could be caused by a multitude of things, such as kitchen rubbish or clogged drains. Removing all waste, especially expired food, and cleaning out bins is a good start. Popping a box of baking soda in the fridge will help to absorb any nasty odours in there, and placing a cup of white vinegar in the dishwasher and putting it on a cycle will often do the trick. For washing machines, combining two cups of bleach and a hot water cycle should sort out any washing machine smells. If the odour is coming from your drains, you may need to bring in a drains expert to help locate and unclog them.

Dirty kitchen
Remove everything from the surfaces and wipe them down with anti-bacterial spray to disinfect your kitchen. Make sure you also wipe all cupboard fronts and the front of your fridge door so there are no unsightly splashes of last night’s bolognese for buyers to see. Also wipe the oven door and hob, and clean the mesh under the extractor fan so there’s no nasty grease on show. When it comes to viewings, remove as much as possible from your surfaces to give the feeling of space and cleanliness.

Outdated décor
A quick and affordable fix to freshen up outdated décor is to paint your walls white and ensure you have no more than 3 complementary colours in each room’s colour scheme. Stick to muted colour pallets for a classier and more sophisticated look. Hanging mirrors opposite windows can also help to open up a room and bring in light, which is particularly helpful for when photos are taken. If your carpets look tired and old fashioned, cover them with a rug in each room. You can get some really decent ones for between £50-£100 and they can really make a difference. General rule of thumb is plain rugs for patterned carpets, and vice versa. Berber rugs are very on trend and would instantly update a space.

Dirty, stained furnishings
Luckily, you can find a lot of tried and tested information online about how to treat various stains with simple household items, such as white vinegar, baking soda and bleach. Simply search for your issues, e.g. ‘red wine stain on sofa’ and the internet should provide a cost-effective and pain-free solution. For anything more stubborn or if you’re working with fragile materials, seek professional advice.

Overgrown garden
If you’re keen to tackle this yourself, get some decent gardening gloves and some strong secateurs. To give an immediate effect of more space, focus on cutting back overgrown bushes and plants. Remove leaves and debris off patios and lawns, and get the hose out to give walls and patios a clean. To make the outdoor space more inviting, add a handful of potted plants around the perimeter and dress the patio with some outdoor furniture.

Broken or damaged windows
Broken or damaged windows are a real turn-off for most homebuyers, so although it’s best to bring in the professionals for this issue, it’s something that’s well worth investing in. We’d recommend that you find a local window expert who can provide you with a quote to repair or replace your windows – you can arrange a quote through our site and agree on a fair price with a skilled and rated tradesperson.

Home improvements that add the most value post-pandemic

The pandemic has also changed what many buyers are looking for in their next home. Now, there’s more emphasis on the need for outdoor space, home offices and home gyms, and our research shows self-contained annexes, summerhouses and open plan living space can add more than £30,000 on to the value of your home.

Understandably, after a year of lockdowns, home improvements that enable outdoor entertaining have massively shot up in popularity. An outdoor cooking area, garden bar, and garden room can now add almost £23,000 onto your asking price.

The top 20 value-adding home improvements in 2021

1Self-contained annex £14,385
2Loft conversion £12,951
3Kitchen extension to create a large kitchen diner £11,514
4Newly renovated kitchen £10,649
5Summerhouse / garden room £9,188
6Newly renovated bathroom £9,011
7Garden office (office room, built in the garden) £9,008
8Walls knocked down to create one open plan living space £8,999
9Landscaped garden £8,547
10Walls built to create separate spaces for more flexible living £8,123
11New driveway £8,012
12Home gym £8,004
13Home office (inside the home) £7,630
14Bespoke storage £7,409
15New wooden flooring £7,255
16Outdoor cooking area – BBQ / pizza oven £6,859
17Garden bar £6,687
18Home bar (inside the home) £6,575
19New carpet £6,396
20Vegetable patch £6,093

So, if you’re thinking of ways to improve your home to maximise its value, choose some of the options above, and you may just increase the value of your home by more than £50,000.


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