A shopping cart containing wood-block houses, with a red jagged arrow pointing down, showing the decrease in the property's value at sale/purchase. SAM Conveyancing's top 10 things that cause property values to decrease & how to fix them
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10 things that cause property values to decrease & how to fix them

19/10/2022
(Last Updated: 22/02/2023)
214
16 min read
There are many factors which affect property prices in general, which are beyond our control. Supply and demand, government schemes such as the Stamp Duty holiday, wider economic downturns and even the time of year. (Higher in summer and lower in winter).

We watch the trends and share our knowledge and experience in our monthly newsletter, so you can be prepared for the fluctuations in the property market as a whole. We discuss the 10 things that cause property values to decrease which are within your control below, so you can:

  • Make an informed decision to purchase a property which is more likely to retain or increase its value
  • Avoid making common changes to the property can cause its value to decrease
  • Solve these problems where possible

Negotiating a price reduction is a fine art. Read more in How to successfully negotiate the house price

How much will it devalue my house?


Flood
In a high flood risk area you property value could decrease because of the premium for the annual insurance and the risk of future flood damage.
£10,000 to £30,000
Dated Decor
The effect on the property's value will be lower for the cost of decorating, but may be higher than this estimate if you have to replace a whole kitchen or bathroom.
£1,000 to £3,000
Energy & Infrastructure
The decrease in the properties value could be considerable as some buyers see these as an "eye sore".
£5000 to £15,000
Contaminated land
The reduction in the house price is difficult to quantify as some cases cannot be remedied at all.
£20,000+
Infestation
Get quotes from local infestation removers and use this to make any reduction precise.
Under £2,000
Pets
Estate agents are inclined to reduce prices by up to 5% as buyers are put off by pet odour. This is incorrect as a good deep clean is relatively affordable.
£300
Subsidence
If your property requires underpinning, this can devalue the property by tens of thousands. Check to see if the seller's insurance covers the repairs as a new buyer won't be able to make a claim for a pre-existing defect.
£40,000+
Building Defects
Like other defects you should get a quote before agreeing to any price reduction.
£3,000 to £15,000
Building Regs
The challenge is that you don't know if the building works require fixing which could mean pulling down plaster board to inspect load bearing walls and electrical sockets.
£5,000+
Neighbourhood
Whilst living in a neighbourhood that is close to a desirable school may add thousands to the property's price, being in a high crime area could reduce the property value by thousands.
£10,000+

What causes property values to decrease?


    1

    Flood Risk

Flood risk is becoming a rising concern (pardon the pun) with the environmental impact of global warming. Many properties in flood plains across the UK are affected by steep declines in house prices, with certain affected houses in Carlisle, falling by 40% in just one month, back in 2015. This often makes homeowners in affected areas worry that they will never be able to sell their properties. However, you can still sell if your house has flooded in the past.

Often, in the case of flash flooding, prices bounce back, but it can take years. In areas where sea levels are due to rise, however, this decrease in house values might not recover at all. This interactive map from Climate Central shows their projected flood level in 2050.


The solution

Aside from doing all we can to slow down climate change, the solution is to buy a house which is not at risk of flooding. Extra cautious buyers may want to avoid any locations flagged for sea-flooding on the map above altogether, and all sensible homebuyers investing in bricks and mortar, will want to get a fast and affordable Flood Risk Report, to ascertain the risk of flooding to the property here and now.

This flood risk report is based on historical data from the Environment Agency in England and Natural Resources Wales, in Wales. It gives information on overall flood risk, including river, sea, surface and ground water, as well as historic flooding and more. Delivered within 2 hours*.


If flood risk is identified, that doesn't necessarily mean the property is a no go. If your report states that further action is required, we can arrange an in-depth flood risk appraisal, for £234 INC VAT.

    2

    Dated Decor

Whilst we instinctively want to save our cash to furnish and decorate our new homes, it can be really cost effective to give the property a spruce up before selling. If the walls, fittings and furniture look old, your property's value will decrease.

The solution

Renovate the house where it will make the most impact, particularly kitchens and bathrooms. When choosing your materials and colour palette, aim for timeless and neutral. If you really can't afford to do the work, even a thorough declutter and a lick of white paint will brighten the place up, make it appear bigger, and help it sell for a better price.

    3

    Energy & infrastructure developments

Energy and infrastructure include a range of developments which could cause property values to decrease. For example:

  • Fracking
  • Wind or solar farms
  • High speed or Crossrail
  • Pipelines

Some of these may actually increase property value, for example, property might be cheaper while construction is underway due to noise and pollution, but then increase once completed due to being a convenient commuter location. However, ground works which may affect subsidence risk, such as fracking, may drag house prices down longer-term.

The solution

Check before you buy. The energy and infrastructure report identifies any identified impact Get a quick and affordable Energy and Infrastructure report for a fixed fee of £42 Inc VAT. Delivered within 2 hours*.


    4

    Contaminated land

Contaminated land is a factor which more often affects properties built on ex-industrial sites. Contamination includes:
  • heavy metals, such as arsenic, cadmium and lead,
  • oils and tars
  • chemical substances and preparations including solvents and gases
  • asbestos or radioactive substances

These substances, at high enough levels, can cause serious harm to people & animals, as well as significant pollution to surface and ground water. This risk and the related cost of decontaminating the land can cause property values to decrease.

The solution

Order an environmental report for a fixed fee of £69 Inc VAT. This report includes several factors in one:
  • Contaminated Land;
  • Flood;
  • Energy and Infrastructure;
  • Ground Stability;
  • Radon; and
  • Other Influential Factors.


What if a risk is identified?
You can purchase Residential Contaminated Land Indemnity Insurance, for ease, which will cover the cost of complying with a remediation notice. However, these policies can range upwards of £180. If a risk is identified, it is often cheaper to contact the environmental health agency and/or the local council to confirm or deny actual contamination on your property.

    5

    Infestation

Rodents, rot, woodworm, termites and Japanese Knotweed are just a few examples on infestation which can bring the value of your property down as they pose a risk to the sanity and structural safety of the building.

The solution

These are important to look out for when buying a property - one mouse shouldn't put you off, but if there are 100 more hiding in the walls, you could be looking at a costly expense. In the worst case scenario, rodents can chew through wires and cause an electrical fire, burning your house to the ground. This risk could bring the value down and put buyers off altogether. Whether you book a level 2 or a level 3 RICS survey before your purchase, your surveyor will be on the lookout for warning signs of infestation.


What if a risk is identified?
If there are signs of infestation in a house you own, or are looking to buy, you'll need to get a specialist in as soon as possible. The longer you bury your head in the sand, the worse an infestation can take hold, with serious consequences for the value of the property (not to mention your safety)!

    6

    Pets

Pets cause wear and tear which can cause property values to decrease. Scratch marks, muddy pawprints, and particularly smelly carpets have been known to knock the price down by around 5%.

Many pet owners become immune to their own pet's smell and if you're an animal lover, its unlikely to offend you. However, we rely on our sense of smell for many unconscious decisions and if a buyer can smell your dog, it can create a real mental block to imagining themselves living in your space. If they still love the property, concerns over expensive deep cleaning or even reflooring can bring the value of the property down.

The solution

Be sure to rub down and refinish any scratch marks on the woodwork and scrub or repaint muddy shake splatters on the walls. Most importantly, neutralise any odours before your valuation and viewings. Shampooing your carpets and soft furnishings is a worthwhile expense. It may help to ask a friend who lives in a pet free home to give your house an honest sniff-test.

You'll also want to fill in any digging-holes in the garden, keep the pets out of the house, and put pet beds, bowls and toys out of site during viewings.

    7

    Subsidence

Man-made and environmental factors can cause soil shrinkage. Your first warning of a potential risk will be either in the ground stability section of your environmental search when you purchase the property, or in the form of cracks appearing in the building itself. This can be a sneaky one, as even a really solidly built house is at risk if the ground underneath it could subside. Subsidence is likely to decrease property value and in the worst cases, the building could be condemned.

The solution

In many cases of subsidence, the solution is as simple as cutting down a tree, whose roots are interfering with the foundations. In others, the building may need underpinning. We recommend all buyers get a subsidence report before buying property. If the property is deemed at risk, our structural engineers can carry out a specialist subsidence survey to determine to what extent the property is affected.


    8

    Building defects

As well as the specific issues listed above, there are other defects with the property itself which cause property values to decrease. For example:
  • Rising damp
  • rotten windows & doors or frames
  • Leaks
  • Worn or unsafe wiring
  • Faulty drainpipes
  • Missing, damaged or insufficient insulation

The longer that issues like these are left, the more they can damage your property's value. If you've not moved in a long time, you might not be familiar with the EPC (energy performance certificate) required for all sales. Poor insulation and damaged doors, windows or roofs can affect the energy efficiency rating which will bring the value of your house down further.

The solution

If you're buying, these defects will be checked for in your homebuyers' report or building survey. We strongly recommend that you get one of these as well as your lender's valuation, as they serve different purposes.


If you're worried about defects like these in a house you already own, make sure you ventilate and maintain rooms, roofs and woodwork and get problems mended properly before they escalate, which brings us on to the next point:

    9

    Building works

Building works carried out without planning permission or building control sign off, can cause property values to decrease. It is easy for homeowners to assume that any 'improvement' would be a boost to the property value. Don't fall for this well-intentioned mistake; always check if the work you are doing requires:


These requirements give any prospective buyer assurances that the work is of an acceptable quality and that they won't be ordered to undo it by the council. If your work should have either of the above but doesn't, the value of your property could decrease quite significantly due to the potential cost to the buyer if they have to repair shoddy building work or remedy work which did not meet planning codes.

The solution

Step one is to get planning permission, if required, and to employ a member of the competent persons scheme to undertake any work which is covered by building regulations - they will provide a certificate of compliance when their work is completed. If it is too late for that, you may be able to get the work retrospectively signed-off with a letter of regularisation.

Step two is for your buyer to purchase indemnity insurance through their solicitor, which is relatively affordable and will offer some protection against these potential costs. However, the seller is usually expected to knock this cost off of the price of the property. In some cases, the buyer may need to get a structural engineer in to assess the integrity of the building and may seek to negotiate this expense off of the value of the property also.

What building works cause property values to decrease?

Knocking a wall through to create an open plan kitchen/dining room can increase value as part of a larger renovation creating a much higher spec family home. However, in many cases knocking through two rooms can actually decrease the value of your property. Where one room served as a smallish kitchen/diner room, buyers (especially buy to let landlords) will see the second as a potential extra bedroom, lost.

    10

    Neighbourhood

When a neighbourhood is suffering socially and economically, the value of property decreases. Warning signs of localised economic downturn include:
  • Closure of the local school, or poor ratings
  • Closure of public services such as libraries, pools, & municipal facilities
  • Diversion of public transport, for example, some bus services are cut
  • Rising crime rates
  • Foreclosures

The solution

These factors are largely external and beyond our individual control. You could get involved in community projects, such as neighbourhood watch, community gardens, or campaigning to keep public services running. Or, you could spot the signs early, cut your losses and move to a more up-and-coming neighbourhood. The problem with the latter is that the more people in one neighbourhood who do this, the further the property prices can fall.
Frequently Asked Questions
Age
Neighbour
Development
Increase
Damp
Subsidence
Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager
Written by:

Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.

Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Reviewed by:
Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.

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