‘Hey, let’s put our property on the market and hope it takes a really long time to sell!’
When you’ve made the decision to sell you don’t want to hang about. A good agent will help you to get the price right, and bring buyers to your door. But what those buyers see, and the way they experience your property … well that’s largely up to you. Here are some simple, cost-effective ways to make your property sparkle and be the one that buyers remember … for all the right reasons.
First impressions count
How does the outside of your property look?
Property apps and tools like Google Earth have made it a doddle to identify the location of properties for sale from the comfort of your sofa. For buyers who are moving locally the next step is often a drive-by. For you as a seller this represents an opportunity to help yourself … take a walk outside and have a long hard look at your property. What will a potential buyer see?
Consider how your house looks in comparison to properties next door and nearby. And cast a critical eye over your paintwork, paving, fencing, gutters and garden. If these are looking a little shabby, buyers will notice.
A property that looks cared for from the outside creates an expectation that the inside will be the same. And that’s just the hook you need to get buyers through your (obviously spotless and sparkling) front door.
When you’re living in a place it’s easy to overlook its minor imperfections – peeling paint, wonky paving slabs, the comically over-grown hedge – these are the things that make it home in your eyes, and don’t spoil your quality of life. But all that potential buyers see is the work and expense required to put them right.
Not a great start.
Be honest with yourself about the first impression that the outside of your home offers to visitors. You’re aiming for neat, tidy, and well-kept. And the sooner you take care of these little niggles, the more enjoyment you’ll get out of them yourself before you move, too.
Embrace lean living
Have you allowed enough of a blank canvas to allow their imaginations sell it for you?
So, you’re selling a dream. Creating space. And to achieve that it’s vital that your home is as free from clutter as possible. No-one expects minimalist perfection in a property, but a bit of tidying goes a long way. While you’re selling, lean living is the way to go.
Find homes for those washing and ironing piles. Put toys away in boxes, in cupboards and under beds. File or stack paperwork and magazines neatly. Look at every surface – shelves, worktops, windowsills, mantelpieces, hearths, tables – and take stuff off them until at least three-quarters of the area is visible and free from stuff, and the remaining items are arranged in an appealing way.
If your reason for sale is because you’ve outgrown your home you may struggle to create a feeling a space. Packing non-essential items and placing them in storage is one option, but if finances are tight consider whether you could stack some boxes neatly in the garage, shed, or even at a relative’s home for a brief time.
When you’ve lived in a property for a while it’s surprising how much stuff you accumulate that you neither need, nor really want. Removals cost money, so minimising the amount of stuff you eventually have to take makes sense, and will help declutter your property too. Sell items in good condition on eBay or Gumtree, or make donations to charity shops.
One final point here is about depersonalising your space. Happy family photos, quirky framed prints on the wall, endless houseplants – these are the kinds of things that make your house a home. Now we’re not suggesting you remove every trace of personality from your home, but buyers want to focus on how their world could look in your space, and that’s not easy to do when it’s filled with someone else’s reality. A few choice personal items leave traces of personality and provide lifestyle inspiration – too many, and you may as well place a sign on the door saying ‘Go Away, this is MY place!’
Be sensible, and pack away all but your most special personal items. It’ll make you value the rest even more when you finally unpack them to create your space in your new home.
Roll up your sleeves …
Do your property scream, i’ve been looked after?
Once you’ve created some space it’s time for a spring clean (yes, even if it’s actually winter). No matter how assiduous you are about keeping your house fresh, there will always be those grubby little hard-to-reach corners that get left undone, cleaning jobs you always seem too busy to do, and stale smells that linger. Over time, these little things that don’t bother you on a daily basis can all add up to a not-quite-clean feel in your home.
Now is the time to address that.
Clean the oven. Move furniture and get rid of the dust that lurks beneath. Clean your windows, inside and out. Scrub or mop hard floors – several times. Vacuum down invisible cobwebs from corners. Use a carpet refresh powder. Use a grout cleaner on tiles, and apply fresh sealant around baths and sinks. Put a chemical cleaner down drains. Apply lime scale remover to baths, sinks, taps and toilets. Clean door handles everywhere. Dust blinds, curtain and picture rails. Wash and iron curtains and bedding.
If you smoke, leave some bowls of vinegar around the house for a few days – it will be stinky for a while, but the vinegar will absorb stale tobacco smells from your soft furnishings, and the vinegar smell with quickly disperse when you open windows and let fresh air flow through your home.
You may already do some or all of these things regularly, and that’s great. But look around and see if you can spot other areas of your home that would benefit from the rubber-glove treatment. There’s usually something to be done.
A truly clean house really does sparkle. It looks, feels and smells fresh and bright. And from a sale point of view it’s definitely worth the effort.
It’s no single thing that makes the difference, but a combination of elbow-grease and sweet-smelling cleaning products that reach into every nook and cranny and combine to create an overall impression of cleanliness. And clean means cared-for. In a buyer’s mind this translates to a realisation that they can move-in-with-no-effort-required.
Now that’s appealing.
Light but not-too-bright
Have you set the right mood?
Ambient lighting can have a significant effect on the mood in a room. Think about what each space in your home is used for and aim for lighting that enhances that, instead of clashing with it.
A glaring centre light complete with a bright, high-wattage daylight bulb will feel out of place in a cosy living room, for example – standard, table or wall lights are more appropriate here, with warm bulbs that produce lighting that embraces you as you enter the room.
Place lights in dark corners around your home, and be sure to replace any bulbs that are broken. And don’t be afraid to turn on lights for photos and viewings, even if it’s sunny outside.
And strategic mirror-hanging in areas where light and space are limited can help to create a feeling of space, too. Hallways, small rooms and dark corners can all benefit from a bit of, ahem, self-reflection.
Colour me happy
Will the buyer have the same taste as you?
There are so many amazing colour schemes and wallpaper designs to choose from these days and chances are you’ve gone bold in one or more of the rooms in your home. And good for you: it’s important you love the home you live in.
The trouble is, vivid colours and statement patterns send out a whole variety of messages and generate a veritable sea of different emotions – all of which are experienced in a slightly different way by every different person. That sassy lime green you’ve enjoyed on the walls of your kitchen, and the ‘70s pattern signature wall in your living room may have brightened your world, but could be your potential buyer’s worst nightmare.
It’s not always necessary to remove all things bright and beautiful from your home to snag a sale … but it helps. Here’s why.
Remember that schmaltzy stuff about dreams and space that we talked about earlier? Well apart from the fact that not all people’s tastes are created equal, statement styles tend to bring the walls into the character of a room and can make a space feel smaller.
Neutral shades and pale colours may not be your thing, but they offer the best background onto which potential buyers can project their own ideas about how your property may look with their life in it. Add a splash of colour with a few accessories instead to make a room feel warm and inviting.
Remember – it’s all about helping people imagine themselves in your space.
So grab a paintbrush, and put your bold ideas into storage. Just for a little while.
Scary hairy …
Unfortunately not everyone likes pets…
Yes, your pets are part of the family.
We applaud that.
When selling it’s important that you aim to make traces of your pet as invisible as possible. Ask a friend to look after your dog or cat when you know you have a valuation or viewing. Put bowls and baskets away, or in unobtrusive corners. Keep litter trays spotless and fresh. And do all you can to remove hairs and stale animal smells from soft furnishings.
If you have hamsters, mice, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs and the like be sure to refresh the sawdust in their cages daily, and whizz around with the vacuum before any valuation or viewing (stray sawdust is as bad a pine needles at Christmas for getting everywhere in the house).
For more obscure pets it’s best to keep them as tucked away as possible. Your pet tarantula, python or gecko may be a little charmer, for example, but please recognise that simply being in the same room as one of these creatures may freak a lot of buyers out.
The bottom line where pets and selling are concerned is cleanliness, fresh smells, and a discreet presence.
The external living space … your garden
Don’t fall on this final hurdle!
The space outside your home is as important as the space within. Think about the dream-scenario again. A garden is like an extra room where buyers will imagine themselves relaxing and entertaining.
If it’s overgrown, weed-filled, with broken fencing, cracked patio slabs and rotten decking … well, it’s not really being presented in the best possible light, is it?
Cutting the grass, clearing up any pet mess, trimming hedges and shrubs and clearing weeds gets you started and requires virtually no financial outlay. If you have a little cash to spare, fix any broken boundaries and gates, and invest in some inexpensive patio furniture, outdoor lighting, pretty bedding plants and some choice potted plants.
If your potential buyers are sitting on the fence about the house, an attractive garden could be just the thing to help them decide to buy. And after all, that’s ultimately what you’re trying to achieve.
Take advice from those who know
At Underhill Real Estate Agents we have extensive experience in advising sellers in Exeter on how to prepare their homes for sale. If you’re thinking of putting your property on the market then give us a call today on 01392 434172 to see how we can help you.