Nice house, shame about next door
Are your neighbours bringing down the value of your home?
When my family and I moved into our current home, we were given an exuberant welcome rarely experienced by parents of three young children. The house we had bought was a wreck, a ‘derelict squat’ as one kindly friend put it and was bringing down the entire street’s image.
When our neighbours heard that a family was moving in to renovate the house, all reservations of the anticipated additional racket were completely overshadowed by their dream of no longer having to live next door to the grottiest house on the street.
Three years on and our house is completely renovated and more than holds its own in an appealing and friendly road where no house is in a state of disrepair and therefore, in estate agent speak, it is a ‘highly desirable’ street.
As a nation we're spending more money than ever doing up our houses in order to maximise their value, but what if you're being let down by your neighbours?
The fact that the condition of next door can be detrimental to the desirability or even value of your own home was borne out when both our next door neighbours went on to sell their homes quickly and at their asking price very soon after we had finished our renovations – something neither had dreamt previously possible.
We took on a renovation project through financial necessity and ended up with not just a beautiful home worth a good deal more than we had paid for it, but had also enhanced our immediate locale.
Channel 4 recently ran a series called Streets Ahead in which presenter Sarah Beany helped residents turn their roads into more desirable places to live. When neighbours came together to spruce up their streets, they ended up with homes up to £20,000 more valuable (based on before and after valuations carried out by local estate agents).
Unruly bushes or overgrown gardens can make a street look unkempt and unloved but could be the result of something as innocent as your neighbour not having the tools or the physical ability to keep their gardens tidy – a simple offer of help can be just what is needed.
Dealing with the smallest things can sometimes make a big difference. If your road is covered in litter or leaves, sweep them up before a viewing – it might not be your job and precisely what you pay council tax for - but it could make all the difference to a sale.
And it’s not just aesthetics that matter, one way of making your immediate neighbourhood more desirable is to ensure it’s a safe place to live in. Knowing that neighbours will keep an eye on your home while you’re away or be vigilant of things like fly tipping, car dumping or graffiti, can really improve quality of life. Chiswick is blessed with a number of Neighbourhood Watch Groups but it’s not only criminal activity such schemes can tackle; the council can be lobbied for things like better street lighting. For details about local groups contact www.neighbourhoodwatch.net, or Chiswick Police.
September 20, 2005