Sam Dunn: 'My house just won't sell. Will a kitchen revamp help me shift it?'

House Doctor
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The Independent Online

Question: My house has been on the market – at what I think is a reasonable price – for nearly six months with a few viewings but no offers. I'm now sorely tempted to spend up to £2,200 on a cosmetic kitchen revamp and some wooden decking in the garden to make it more attractive. As my house is on for £245,000, it's not much of an outlay, but is it worthwhile? I'm desperate to sell. Katheryn Smith, Carlisle



Answer: There's a simple acid test for any house on sale – the market. And sadly, it looks as if yours is failing it miserably. The average time it takes to sell a home now stands at 8.4 weeks, according to Hometrack, leaving your 26-week stint on sale as proof that something is definitely amiss.

"In this scenario, there are two rules to follow," says Gavin Brazg of website TheAdvisory.co.uk: "First, no viewings means your house is overpriced. Second, lots of viewings but no offers implies your home is priced correctly but something is putting off buyers – and usually that's presentation."

So it's possible that a £2,200 revamp could be worthwhile – however, don't move a muscle before you talk to your estate agent.

After so much time on the market, they should already have given you plenty of feedback as to what might lie behind your lack of sales success – and if presentation is one of the culprits.

And, if they haven't offered you a shred of advice, a speedy change of agent is in order – you need an agent on who is on your side, not an indifferent sales partner.

Your priority is to work out why your property isn't attracting offers, so ask your agent or others if it's down to its appearance to avoid spending money to no end.

Applying the same two rules, it could also be the case that you've overpriced your property. When the market is flooded with properties, says Jonathan Barry at Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward estate agent, it can be worth spending cash to make your home stand out: in this market, however, if your home isn't selling after six months, "price is probably an issue."

"I'd put it back on at a new lower price, and make it clear that you're open to offers," he says. "A £5,000 difference in price, for example, can mean an awful lot to a first-time buyer."

You can check to see the kinds of prices at which similar properties in your area have recently sold: go to Upmystreet.com.

If you still feel that a decorative change will make a difference, it may be worth considering a few cosmetic touches.

Start with this trio of old tricks: make sure your hallway is pristine, it's the first thing potential buyers see; buy flowers for viewings; and be there to answer any questions – you know your home better than anyone.

Find the right home for you at independent.co.uk/propertyfinder

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