Renovating property: how to turn an ugly duckling into a swan


First impressions matter when it comes to houses, but a little work can make a big difference, says Max Davidson.

Worried your house is looking shabby? Well, you should be. Very few things put off buyers more quickly than a property that, however smart inside, is an eyesore from the street. Perhaps the paint is peeling, or the windows are hideous, or the roof slopes at an odd angle. Whatever the problem, the property will lack what is known in the trade as “kerb appeal”. This is the indefinable something that lures buyers in off the street and persuades them to part with their money.

“Properties with immaculate exteriors tend to sell much more quickly,” says Giles Hannah of London estate agent VanHan. “At the moment the average property in prime central London is taking just seven weeks to sell. But if a property has an exterior that is unattractive, for whatever reason, it can take four or five times longer, particularly if there is no development potential or the property is listed.”