Tackling potential problems before they become a stumbling block is always a good idea. By Vicky Shaw

BUYING and selling a home can be a stressful process at the best of times. But some drawbacks with a property could make potential buyers completely lose interest and sabotage a sale altogether.

Being as prepared as possible always helps, so it's important to be aware of the aspects of your home which may make it difficult to sell. If they're tackled effectively and at the right time, this could boost your chances of finding a buyer.

NAEA (National Association of Estate Agents) Propertymark has revealed the most common issues that can scupper the sale of a property - to help people feel better prepared...

1. Nuisance neighbours

Whether it's a dispute over boundaries, shared access to driveways or anti-social noise, falling out with your neighbour is not only stressful but can affect the sale of a property. To avoid the risk of comeback later down the line, honesty is the best policy if you've had a dispute with a neighbour.

2. Structural problems

If your home has any serious structural defects which aren't necessarily visible on first inspection, this can put serious doubt in the minds of buyers - and their mortgage provider may refuse to lend against the property. If you're aware of a major structural problem with your property, try and fix it before putting it on the market.

If you are not in the financial position to repair the issue, get an appropriate contractor to give you an estimate for repair. You should disclose everything to the buyer and provide the documents on how to remedy the issue. You'll help to put buyers' minds at ease.

3. Japanese knotweed

The invasive plant with deep roots can damage the foundations of your home and significantly devalue it if it's at risk of subsidence as a result. If you think you can see any in your garden, call a professional to excavate it as soon as possible. It can also potentially affect your ability to get a mortgage on the property.

Somerset County Gazette: BUYING: A couple in the process of buying a new home. Picture: iStock/PABUYING: A couple in the process of buying a new home. Picture: iStock/PA

4. Rail timetable changes

If you're in a commuter town, any changes to train timetables which make it more difficult to travel to the nearest city could potentially affect the saleability of your property.

5. Planning permission

If you've had any work carried out while you have been living in the property, such as extensions or conversions, make sure you obtained appropriate planning permission and building regulations, and have access to these documents. If you haven't got the right documents, you may find that you must pay retrospectively before agreeing a sale.

6. Properties without a lengthy lease

If you are selling your property with a shortened lease, you should provide this information as early as possible - don't wait until you've got an interested buyer to tell them.

7. Being on a flight path

If your property falls within an airport's flight path, noise can cause issues, but the impact this has on a home depends on how busy the airport is - and even the type of aircraft used. Prospective buyers may be going into the purchase with their eyes and ears open, so be honest with them on how much you can hear and the times of day you're disrupted.

8. Parking disputes

Issues can arise with street parking if a neighbour leaves their car in the space closest to your property. If you're thinking about selling your home and have a parking issue with a neighbour, try to have a friendly word before any viewings - often simple courtesy will resolve the problem. If you share a driveway with your neighbour and there's a dispute over a lack of space, check your house deeds to find out where the boundaries lie.

Somerset County Gazette: SOLD: Beware the pitfalls of buying and selling. Picture: iStock/PASOLD: Beware the pitfalls of buying and selling. Picture: iStock/PA

9. School catchment areas

Parents always want to ensure their children get into the right school, so the closeness of your home to popular local schools is a big consideration for families. Those keen to move are usually prepared to pay a higher premium for a property in their chosen school catchment area. However, school catchment areas can change, so it's worth keeping an eye on this so you can be transparent with buyers.

10. Underlying damp

If damp isn't taken care of, it can cause major damage to a home. While many cases of damp need simple and inexpensive treatment, in extreme cases the building's structure may be at risk, resulting in lengthy and costly remedial work. If you're concerned about damp, a surveyor can help. You may need to factor this into your house price, or if the damage is minimal you can potentially cure it yourself.

How... the diy frenzy is switching to the outdoors

DIY season is in full swing and it's not just homes being revamped - gardens up and down the country are being given a new lease of life too.

People in their 20s are planning to spend the most on their outdoor space, at £1,193 on average (compared with £790 for people in their 40s, and £536 for those aged 60-plus), according to research from AA Financial Services. And plants and bulbs are the most common item on people's garden-upgrade shopping lists, the survey of more than 1,800 people found. Gardening tools, outdoor furniture, barbecues and bird feeders are also among the most popular items people plan to buy - while greenhouses, climbing frames, hot tubs, tree houses and outdoor music systems also featured.

A fifth of those surveyed admit they won't necessarily be getting their hands dirty themselves, though. Some 20% plan to hire a gardener to do some work for them, with under-30s particularly likely to say this. The survey also found families with children were planning to spend around five times as much on their garden as those with no kids.

Warren D'Souza, head of insight at AA Personal Finance says: "The heavy spend by young people underlines the nation's enduring love affair with gardens and how important they are for families with young children. Our advice is for people to shop around for good deals on the more expensive items and if people are using finance, it makes sense to consider a competitive personal loan rather than more expensive point-of-sale retail finance."