SellingUp/Populus survey: the property dealbreakers that could ruin your sale

Any estate agent will tell you about typical property buyers’ most obvious deal breakers: think location, space, condition, transport links, crime, local schools and so on. But what about the many hidden factors that could make an otherwise keen property buyer reduce their offer – or worse, lose interest in the purchase entirely?

When a buyer changes the price they are tearing up the contract

Does having a bad mobile reception matter to buyers more than living next door to a cemetery? What about energy efficiency – it may be a legal requirement but do buyers really take any notice of that Energy Performance Certificate?

SellingUp has conducted an exclusive survey with Populus, one of the UK’s leading market research firms, to look into some of the lesser known reasons that potential buyers may be put off entirely, or encouraged to make a reduced offer.

Survey question & summary of results

populus_logo2Populus, on behalf of SellingUp, asked a 1000+ sample of the general UK adult population the following question:

Imagine you are looking to buy a property, and you noticed there was an issue. To what extent do you think each of the following would influence your offer on the property?

Poor/unreliable mobile phone signal

no_phone_signalIn what is possibly a testament to the modern obsession with being constantly connected, almost a quarter of people (23%) said they would cut off from a property deal if they discovered it had a bad mobile reception. Exactly 30% said they would reduce their offer (17% by a few hundreds pounds, and 13% by several thousand). A bad signal didn’t set alarm bells ringing for 10% who were not bothered and would proceed without reservations.


Messy/dirty, badly in need of cleaning

Television ‘house doctors’ are constantly advising property sellers to de-clutter, tidy up and give their place a thorough clean in order to attract the maximum number of buyers. According to our survey it’s smart advice. Almost one in three (28%) of potential buyers said that when faced with a property that is messy and very dirty they would reduce an offer substantially, while 27% would try to get the price down by a few hundred pounds (presumably to cover the cost of a cleaning company and a skip). A mess-averse 15% said they would pull out altogether.

Evidence of pests (e.g. droppings, mousetraps)


No one likes pests, and potential property buyers are no exception. Evidence of an infestation such as droppings or mousetraps would be enough to send almost half (44%) of buyers scurrying off. Around a quarter (23%) would be inclined to make a substantially lower offer and 16%would drop the price by a few hundred pounds. A mouse-sized minority of 3%would have no reservations in proceeding despite the potential presence of some pesky house guests.


For the full answer to this question and the survey results go to

Reprinted with permission.

Adam McHenry

A property professional specialising in the sale and rental of character properties . Joint owner of a family run estate and letting agency covering the Rugby, Lutterworth & Coventry area, I enjoy talking about all things "bricks and mortar" as well as fine food, drink and James Bond trivia. My "boss" is Valerie, my wife, and we enjoy spending time on our boat when we are not working. Running a 24/7 business is challenging but rewarding and we are here to give advice to those looking for help with any property related questions or queries. I look forward to speaking with you soon!