Preparing your property for selling

When you sell your property, the main goal is usually to achieve the best possible price at that time from the open market. Whilst many different external factors will affect this, such as the style of the property, the asking price, the location etc, there are also things that you can do when preparing your home for sale so that the process goes as smoothly and as quickly as possible, and gets you the price that you were hoping for. So, here are a few tips that you could keep in mind when preparing to sell; even the smallest of changes can make a big difference in the way that potential buyers view your property.

Good preparation is likely to result in a relatively easy sale

The more you do to get your property ready, the stronger the chance of selling it quickly and for a good price.

First impressions matter

Make it look as desirable as possible for the potential buyers: garner their interest and you will have a better chance of catching their hearts and possibly making a sale. You don’t have to go overboard, but selective use of flowers, new cushions, rugs or other soft furnishings, subtly scented candles or oils and ironed bedding will make a significant difference to the presentation of your home. Borrow your friend’s new set of scatter cushions just while your house is being marketed. Make sure that all bathrooms have their loo seats closed and neatly folded towels in appropriate colours – keep a set just for viewings: whatever you used that morning needs to go into the airing cupboard!

Influence what the viewer sees as they enter the property

A well-kept external landscape is vitally important, even if you are not a fan of gardening. Avoid overgrown lawns, messy bushes and blatant weeds. It may take grass treatment to get the lawn looking good, but the increase in appeal of the house will more than make up for the cost. Get a few seasonally planted tubs or troughs to brighten up the entrance area as you can always take them with you when you move.

Make sure that bins and recycling boxes are not littered across parking spaces, and that any outside toys are stored appropriately and not left for viewers to walk over.

Potential buyers will usually enter the house through the front door, so retouch the paintwork if it is chipped, make sure that it is not covered by cobwebs or insects, and clean any windows surrounding the doorway. Purchase new doormats inside and out which are only used for viewings. Ensure your house number or name is clearly visible and that your doorbell is fully functioning.

The signals that people get when they first walk into the house will influence their feelings towards it during the rest of their tour, so ensure this area is clean and well put together. It should be comfortably lit and relatively open to give the feeling that the property has plenty of space. If your porch area is usually a dumping-ground for muddy shoes and smelly trainers, buy appropriate storage and hide them for the viewing. You can even consider using the boot of your car for this!

Make sure the property is clean and tidy to emphasise its space and versatility

To make a room look bigger, remove excess furniture and leave only as much as is needed to make the room seem lived-in. You may have to rent a storage unit or sweet-talk a friend to hold your extra items, but it will help viewers believe they are buying a bigger house.

Make sure the house is spotless, without dirt, evidence of insects or clutter. Organise belongings, vacuum rugs, curtains and soft furnishings, mop and re-varnish the floors, and remove anything that looks tired or faded. This will lead the viewer to a more favourable impression of the property and less likely to make a disappointing offer.

Be aware of strong smells too: a property with an unpleasant odour will cause people to emotionally turn around as soon as they walk in. To prevent this, try to remove the smell for good by addressing its source, be it the kitchen bin, dirty laundry basket, or that pet bedding which needs a wash. Keep windows open and consider the use of subtle room fragrances like sprays, oils or candles. Try not to eat fish pie or other strongly-scented foods for a few days before a viewing and remember that smells often linger on soft furnishings too.

Speaking of smells, beware of your pets! Some agents advise that visible pets are a no-no during viewings because they not only distract owners from showing their home, but they can also be off-putting if someone is allergic to them or just plain fearful of jumping dogs. However, they can also be an area of shared connection with a potential buyer so you will need to gauge it for yourself, as to how you manage your furry friends. Unusual pets, such as reptiles, arachnids and free-flying birds are definitely best housed in a your best friend’s home whilst viewings take place, though. Prior to viewings, clean all pet hair off the furniture and the floor and put away their food bowls and litter trays, just in case.

Perform sensible repairs

Repair all holes in walls, skirtings and doors. Ensure that there is no evidence of past water ingress, and that any missing roof tiles are replaced. This will show a viewer that the property has been well taken care of over the years.

Consider how the colour of the walls impacts upon a viewer: very dark colours or large prints can feel dated and will not appeal to the majority of viewers. Try to choose colours that reflect the newest styles in home decor.

If major repairs are needed, be honest with the prospective buyer: the Home Report should flag anything up and as long as the selling price is adequately adjusted to take this into consideration, buyers will welcome your honesty.

Think about lighting

Lighting makes a huge difference, so consider the different environments of each room: while a bedroom could be lit by low-level lamps to seem cosy, for instance, in the lounge on a dull winter’s day you might want to consider using daylight simulation bulbs.

Be wary of low energy lighting that might take a little while to reach its full brightness. Have lights on in advance so there’s no warm-up needed.

Offer to include your light fittings in the sale: presumably you will have chosen them as they are in-keeping with the style of the property, but if there is any one that you are particularly attached to, ensure that a qualified electrician puts in a suitable replacement.

Kitchens sell houses

There is much truth in this old adage, and if a viewer is trying to make up their minds between similar properties, they will most certainly be drawn to a property that can offer a well-kept kitchen with quality appliances. As before, make sure you show it off to its best advantage by removing all items from the work surfaces, except perhaps your toaster, kettle and trendy coffee-machine.

Repair or replace any door or unit that is tired or damaged and don’t be surprised if viewers want to see inside any deep pan drawers or corner cupboards.

Decide in advance if you are prepared to part with any of your white goods or that pink Smeg fridge, so a viewer knows exactly what will be included in the sale price.

Minimise the impact of sticky fingers!

It is doubly difficult to prepare a house for viewings if you have children in the property who can’t or won’t understand the importance of being super tidy and ordered. Think outside the box where possible: schedule viewings for when the children are at a relative’s house or see if you can arrange swapsies with a friend. Use black bags and child locks on kitchen cupboards to hide any last-minute washing up, abandoned clothes or toys, and use the opportunity of a house move to de-clutter where possible. It is also highly likely that your prospective buyers will have had some experience of the chaos that accompanies children and so will be understanding and appreciative of any efforts you can make to present your property in a calm, ordered way.

If you need more inspiration, go and visit some show homes, so you can see what you are competing with. Don’t let the experience stress you in terms of thinking how much work you might still have to do, but consider what overall difference you might achieve by altering small details here and there. Ask a friend or relative whose opinion you trust to look over your prepared property once it is ready and give you an honest opinion, and remember we can always advise you too. Try and emotionally detach from the process as much as you can and see your property in an objective light: do you need to reduce the quantity of family snaps on the piano, so that Mrs Jones can imagine her family there instead? The properties that sell the fastest are always the ones that are beautifully staged and in ready-to-go condition. This won’t be possible for everyone in every circumstance, but a little preparation could go a long way. Best of luck!