Property prices have been rising for such a long time (across most of the country) that it's easy to forget that they can go down as well as up. For years all you had to do was buy, wait and sell, in order to make a killing on a property - especially in London. However, times are changing, and price rises are stalling. It means that if you do the wrong things with your property you could end up losing money.
See also: Landlords make most profits in Lancashire and Merseyside, says Rightmove
See also: Rising house prices 'cover rail fare rise in eight days'
The 'wrong things' are often projects people undertake to improve a property, but end up putting off buyers, and destroying value.
It's vital, therefore, to know what the 'wrong things' are, and there are ten sure-fire mistakes.
1. Doing half the job
Unfinished renovations are enormously off-putting, because immediately you're not selling someone their dream home - you're selling them a problem they have to solve before they can move in. If you start a project, therefore, you need to be certain you can finish it.
2. Doing a poor job
Bad workmanship will worry buyers. If the kitchen cabinets aren't straight, or the shower is hanging off the wall, it not only tells buyers that they need to fix these specific things, but it fills them with concern that everything they touch will fall apart - and the house will need constant work.
The house should suit your needs, but if you tailor it too specifically, then you could end up putting off potential buyers. Converting the dining room into another bedroom, replacing an entire back garden with a swimming pool, or transforming the spare room into a sauna will definitely reduce the number of people you can sell to - which is going to damage the sale price.
4. Losing a bedroom
There are still plenty of people who consider value in terms of the number of bedrooms, so think very carefully before losing any. You may want to knock two rooms together to make a larger room, or convert one into a big bathroom - but you will be reducing the value in many buyers' eyes.
5. Fashionable decor
When you decorate a room, if you opt for very fashionable wallpaper, paint colours or carpets, you are freezing that room in time. It means that even if you only decorated a few years earlier, anyone looking around will feel they need to start from scratch. If you're keen to follow fashions, then cushions, lampshades and pictures are easy to update on a regular basis to ensure buyers aren't put off.
6. Particularly in the kitchen or bathroom
Think really carefully before you install an incredibly trendy orange kitchen. Anyone buying it in a few years time will think of it as that incredibly unfashionable orange kitchen. They'll factor in the cost of a new kitchen into any offer, and it will depress the price.
You might love the idea of a textured wall treatment, wallpaper or ceiling, but if potential buyers aren't huge fans, they will worry about the cost and work involved in changing it. Putting a plaster skim on every ceiling in the house is messy and expensive, and it will make plenty of people bolt for the exit.
8. Painting the exterior
Estate agents will tell you all about the importance of kerb appeal, but all your trimming and polishing will be for nothing if you have opted for a particularly striking paint scheme for the exterior. Think very carefully before embracing something bright and unusual, it will put a lot of buyers off before they even get through the door.
9. Removing period features
People buy period property for the features, so ripping out fireplaces and ceiling roses will damage the character of the property, and reduce its appeal.
10. UPVC windows
If they are in keeping with the character of the property, then they are a useful and practical addition to the house. If not, there are plenty of people who will not consider buying your home at any price.