Research

Four out of five homebuyers would reduce offers for poor maintenance

Two people sit on the stairs in a house that is being decorated
  • Research suggests poor maintenance could knock 14% off a house price
  • This is equivalent to more than £40,000, based on current UK house price values
  • Loose roof tiles, blocked drains, cracks in walls and unserviced boilers are among common concerns from would-be buyers
  • But three in five residents delay dealing with minor maintenance issues in their own homes 

Four out of five homebuyers would consider reducing an offer if they found maintenance issues when viewing a property. This is in spite of the current climate of soaring house prices and lightening-speed sales in some areas.

The finding comes from a new surveyof 2,000 UK adults, conducted by insurer Aviva. It reveals more than half of viewers (54%) would “definitely” reduce an offer, while a third (32%) would possibly do the same. A further 7% simply wouldn’t make an offer at all, if they discovered problems while viewing.

The study was commissioned to highlight the importance of looking after one’s properties, ahead of colder weather conditions. Separate studies have estimated that between 14% and 20%can be knocked off the value of a residence, if certain home maintenance tasks are neglected. Based on the average UK house price of £286,000, this could mean a reduction of between £40,040 and £57,2003.

The Aviva study also reveals the most off-putting maintenance issues for home viewers as follows: 

The most off-putting maintenance issues

Home maintenance issue

Percentage of home-viewers who would find this off-putting

Signs of damp or dry / wet rot

65%

Cracks in the walls / ceilings

59%

Loose or missing slates / roof tiles

46%

Blocked drains

44%

Draughty or unsecure windows / doors

43%

Unserviced / out-of-date boiler

41%

Loose / overflowing guttering

35%

Dripping taps or showers / leaky toilets

29%

Uninsulated loft / roof-space

29%

Wobbly / worn / crumbling paths, paving or steps

28%

However, despite people admitting they would be concerned by poor maintenance, many admit they don’t always act immediately when it comes to their own homes.

When asked what they would do when faced with a minor issue, such as a loose tile or a wobbly fence, two fifths would deal with it straight away. But more than a third (35%) would get around to it when they had the time, and one in five (20%) would leave it until it became a bigger problem. A sneaky two per cent would ignore it in the hope someone else would deal with it.

When questioned about why they would delay a task, the most popular answer was that they couldn’t afford to put things right (35%). A quarter of people say they are too busy to deal with minor maintenance issues, and 23% wouldn’t know how to fix them. One person in eight (13%) says they have better things to do with their time.

Kelly Whittington, Property Claims Director for Aviva UK, says: “Home insurance is there to assist customers when weather events occur, such as the storms and floods we often see during the colder months. Each year we help thousands of customers whose homes are affected by extreme weather. However, people should be aware general wear and tear issues are usually not covered. So if a maintenance issue is left unchecked and it’s made worse by weather, they may not be able to claim if the damage was pre-existing.

“Our research suggests millions of householders are disregarding minor issues around the home. But left untreated, a small snag can turn into a major issue – particularly if poor weather exacerbates an existing problem, such as a loose roof tile or wobbly guttering. This can mean more time, greater effort and additional expense may be required to put things right.

“Now is the perfect time for residents to review their homes so they can start to tackle any problems – either themselves or using a professional where appropriate - ahead of the wintry weather. By taking steps now, people could save themselves time, money and disruption in the long run.”

Joanne Richards, Senior Area Director for Connells, adds: “During 2022 across the Midlands, demand and house prices have remained high, with properties so far this year achieving 101% of the asking price. However, breaking that down we do see that properties that have been maintained to a high standard, both internally and externally, genuinely tend to achieve the best results with offers being generated at asking price or higher.

“Those that have not been maintained to a high standard are the ones that potential purchasers will try to negotiate on price, either at the point of offer or during the transaction, particularly after a survey. Offers will and can be reduced to reflect works required.”

Aviva has the following home maintenance advice for UK householders:

  • Review your roof. Look out for any missing or damaged tiles or slates and replace where necessary. Loose tiles are vulnerable to high winds and rainwater can spread far and wide, so make sure it can’t get in.
  • Clear your gutters and make sure they’re securely fixed. Debris and greenery can fill up guttering and weigh it down, so now’s a good time to make sure they’re empty and sturdy.
  • Use an expert where appropriate. If there are any jobs where you don’t feel confident or safe doing yourself, call in a professional.
  • Secure any wobbly fences and gates and replace any missing panels. These are susceptible to damage during stormy weather.
  • Call a chimney sweep. If you plan to enjoy a real fire this year, ensure your chimneys are clear and safe to use before you light your stove or fire.
  • Book in your boiler for a service. Make sure you choose a qualified engineer.
  • Check grouting and seals around your bath or shower and replace if there are any gaps or damaged sections. Water can do untold damage if it gets behind tiles.
  • Insulate your loft. This can help to stop heat escaping from the top of your house, so may help to keep energy costs down.
  • Look for signs of damp or mould. This is the biggest turn-off for house-hunters, so if you find any, take steps to deal with it as soon as you can.
  • Monitor walls for new cracks. Small shrinkage and movement cracks are normal after hot, dry weather, particularly in plaster and wood, but signs of subsidence are normally visible on external walls too. Keep a close eye if any cracks are vertical.
  • Check your doors and windows for any gaps or damaged seals. New seals and door brush strips can prevent the wind from whistling through.

More information about the impacts of extreme weather and building resilient homes can be found in Aviva’s Building Future Communities report. Residents can also find out more about winter-proofing their homes in The Aviva Edit

-ends-

References

(1) Unless stated otherwise, all data relates to a study of 2,001 UK adults carried out by Censuswide research on behalf of Aviva in July 2022.

(2) A study by Yes Homebuyers in 2021 estimated that poor upkeep could reduce the value of a property by 14%, while WeBuyAnyHouse reported that mould, damp and a messy garden could reduce a property’s value by up to 20%.

(3) According to ONS, the average UK house price was £286,000 in June 2022

Media enquiries

Sarah Poulter

UK External Communications

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