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News: DIY could ruin your chances of selling

DIY-weary couples up and down the country may well be celebrating findings from a new report which finds a spot of do-it-yourself this Easter may prove a costly mistake - especially if you're planning to sell your home.

With the Council of Mortgage Lenders reporting record mortgage lending figures for the first two months of this year, it is likely many homeowners will be doing-it-themselves this Easter hoping to add a few extra pounds to their property before putting it up for sale.

However, anyone planning a spot of bathroom DIY to follow the growing trend of replacing the traditional bath with just a shower or wet room should think twice - the end result may actually put off potential buyers. More than one in three (35%) buyers surveyed by Yorkshire Bank said they would not consider buying a house that did not have a bath.

Gary Lumby, Yorkshire Bank's head of retail, said: "Easter is often the time when the housing market starts to pick-up and - after recent record lending figures - 2006 looks like no exception."

"It is also the time of year when many homeowners decide to carry out a few home improvements before putting their home on the market."

"However, doing some DIY this Easter may actually be a bad move. I'm sure this will be welcome news for many hoping for a quiet, long weekend ...our research shows some DIY projects can actually put off prospective buyers."

"Our advice to homeowners is don't ditch DIY totally. But do think carefully about the work you are planning to undertake as you could actually be reducing - not adding - value to your home."

Yorkshire Bank has drawn on five year's worth of its own housing market research to put together some 'Top Tips' for potential sellers this Easter:

  • Don't rip out the bath (especially if you live in the Midlands!)
    Nationally, Yorkshire Bank found one in three (35%) buyers would be put off buying a house that didn't have a bath. However, in the Midlands this figure is even greater with more than half (54%) saying they could not live in a house with just a shower.
    Gary Lumby added: "Wet rooms may be the in-thing to have. However, as our research shows, rather than making a property more appealing to prospective buyers, ripping out the bath may actually be putting them off."
  • Is the work really essential?
    If you can't be bothered doing any DIY this Easter then don't panic. One in three first-time buyers (32%) and one in five (20%) home movers would in fact prefer to buy a house that needed some work doing to it so they could make their mark and also add value.
  • Encourage the neighbours to spruce up
    Asking your neighbours to tidy up their home is also worthwhile. Although your house will be subjected to intense scrutiny by buyers, so will next door's! Yorkshire Bank found one in three (34%) potential buyers would be put off buying a property if the neighbour's house was in a state of disrepair or had an overgrown garden.
  • Waft the whiffs
    Ensure your property smells nice for prospective buyers. More than one in five (22%) buyers would be put off a home with a 'nasty niff', such as smoke or smelly pets, even if the rest of the house is perfect.
    Gary Lumby added: "If you're on good terms with the neighbours then a friendly word about their overgrown lawn could save you losing potential buyers. And while we all love our pets, giving them a good wash and the old favourite of filling the house with the smell of coffee and fresh bread to get rid of bad smells really is a winner."
  • Ensure your home is energy efficient
    Gas and electricity prices are now at such a high level that one in three (33%) first-time buyers would give a property that was not energy efficient - and lacked the basics such as double glazing and cavity wall insulation - the cold shoulder.
  • Hold out for the asking price?
    Now is perhaps a better time to hold out for the asking price on your property than in the recent past. The number of buyers willing to offer above the asking price to secure a property has risen by eight per cent in the last 12 months - from one in seven (13%) to more than one in five (21%).
    Confidence in the housing market is also at a 15-month high, with more than one in two (55%) people expecting house prices to rise in the next 12 months.
    Gary Lumby said: "Spring is a key period for the housing market and, after a promising start to the year, buyers are growing in confidence. As a result sellers are in a strong position to achieve the best possible price for their property."

Yorkshire Bank offers two guides - 'Successful home selling' and 'Successful home renovating' - that may be of interest to home improvers this Easter. Copies are available at branches of Yorkshire and sister bank Clydesdale.

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