Homebuyer turnoffs revealed

News: Shelia Manchester balloon

September 12, 2013

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While most estate agents are crying out for more homes to sell, as homeowners stick with what they have, rather than trade up – or indeed down – those wanting to sell seem equally stymied.

At least six people I know have their home on the market, but have not had any luck, even following price reductions, change of agents, domestic titivation and updated photography. I’ve even been asked to write pieces extolling the virtues of their lovely homes for them to pass onto their agents, or to blog, or tweet, all in the cause of shifting the millstone.

We were triumphant earlier this year, when we managed to sell our house, which had been home for 11 years and so, they ask: “What’s the secret?”. What indeed; that is the question on the tip of many an estate agent’s tongues, as they conduct endless and frequently fruitless, viewings and negotiations.

Sadly, it appears that there is no secret. If there’s a market for your type of property and its price is good, it will sell, but, despite encouraging noises from statisticians and mortgage lenders, the market isn’t good.

Inevitably then, housing experts are regaling us with research, top tips and yes you’ve guessed it, crucial advice to selling homes. Having done all that the seller can  in terms of preparing a house for sale, this latest advice focuses on what actually deters buyers from buying.

Move with Us, a massive network of estate agents, conducted research which has found that the biggest turnoff for buyers is to be shown around the property by the owner. Mad as this may seem, many buyers feel awkward talking to the seller, says Robin King, Director at Move with Us: “Although the homeowner is the person who really knows the property best, potential buyers can often feel uncomfortable in their presence as they are unable to view the property freely and ask whatever questions they like. This can prohibit the potential buyer’s ability to fully explore and evaluate the property and decide whether it is their ideal home.”

“Psychologically it’s important for a potential buyer to feel comfortable as soon as they walk through the door, picturing the property as their new home. Indeed, for most people, this illusion can be broken if the existing owner is present. Furthermore, if there’s any tension between the existing owner and buyer, feelings of negativity can be associated with the property, actively putting off the potential buyer.”

There’s worse news from haart, one of the UK’s largest agency groups. Their recent research found that even more off-putting than having to meet the owner, most buyers have a whole list of no-nos – most relating to noise – when searching for their dream home.

The traditional whinges are to be expected: trainlines, motorways, flight paths, noisy motorbikes and vans etc., but we have clearly become a nation of party poopers. The most common turn off is people enjoying themselves. 54% of buyers said they would not buy a property next to neighbours who held regular parties and played loud music.

Paul Smith, CEO of haart estate agent says: “We Brits are renowned for our prudent behaviour and this survey highlights just how significant this mind-set is when it comes to buying a home. It is usually quite simple to scope out whether a property is affected by noise from nearby traffic, train lines or motorways, however, it’s not so easy to spot the livelier neighbours in just a handful of visits.”

Indeed, Mr Smith refers to other issues, buyers do not like barking dogs (are there dogs that don’t bark?) or crowing cockerels (ditto). The final turnoff though, ironically, is loud ‘bedroom activity’. 43% said they wouldn’t move into a property with sexually expressive neighbours, even if it was available at a discount. Those who said they would consider buying next to such homes, clearly of ill repute, said they would demand a reduction of 16%.

The question is – how do they know?

Having taken a well-deserved summer break, we’re delighted that Sheila Manchester returns to provides us with insightful articles.