Two almost identical properties in the same locality can have a value gap for a variety of localised issues. Here are six top factors which can damage value; Anti-social neighbours You can’t demand your neighbouring owners with bad habits move out, and even if your neighbours are tenants the landlord or managing agent has to gather evidence to achieve repossession on grounds of anti-social behaviour, and if the rent is being paid then they may not be minded to! Always walk a neighbourhood in the evenings when most noise is generated. Look at the state of gardens and outbuildings, and assess whether commercial activity is being conducted such as vehicle repairs. Illegal home improvements Even erecting a garden shed can require planning consent. If a property has been extended or redeveloped your solicitor must check that planning consent and building regulation certification is all in place. Flood plains Properties can be deemed “liable to flooding” without obviously being anywhere near a watercourse. There may be an underground stream, the surrounding land may be unusually flat and flooding can spread toward the property from a distant water course. You can check with the local authority, who will keep a register of properties subject to the risk of flooding, but it’s best to check with two or three insurance companies to test if the postcode has been effectively “blacklisted”. Judge a book by its cover Estate agents talk about “kerb appeal” and if the front of the property doesn’t look good, your first impression has been immediately ruined. Assess whether it is an expensive problem to fix (e.g. changing a drive, creating a proper porch) or really just a decorative issue that fresh paintwork will fix. Bad taste Poor décor and “acquired taste” colour schemes do affect value, if only that the new owner has to rip it all out. Understated, neutral carpets and walls make letting easier as the tenants can personalise their new home with a few items of their own furniture, and are more likely to settle long term. School catchment A lot of families are starting to rent long-term and, as such, it is time for landlords to start paying attention to amenities that are relevant to the family market. If you are in the catchment of an underperforming school you can wave goodbye to family tenants, and if the local school is highly rated it can add 10 to 20% to the achievable rental. Obviously you can’t make a bad school perform better, so market your property toward tenants who won’t need the school. If you are buying a property to let don’t assume that the closest state school is in the catchment. Good estate agents know which local schools have high OFSTED ratings and where the catchment boundaries fall. But be aware that, in the same way that you will achieve faster let times and better rents, such properties will sell quicker for closer to asking price. Contact your local Martin & Co office today to find out how you to keep your portfolio in great letting shape.