This is the second in our three part series about preparing your home for marketing. Be sure to check out the links at the end of this article for the full series.
We’ve recently started watching Kirstie & Phil’s Love It Or List It on Channel 4, and we think it’s a great programme to help you reinvigorate your home. If your minds made up and you want to sell, it’s important not to become complacent that you are going to move and therefore stop keeping up appearances. Presenting your property at its best is never more crucial than throughout the sale process if you want to get the best price in the shortest possible time.
Hopefully by this stage, you’ve decluttered and are free of the possessions that you simply don’t use. A tidy, clutter-free and well organised home is much simpler to present at its best and will allow you to focus on the imperfections that may otherwise have been ignored amongst all the clutter. Our 7 steps to presenting your property at its best will help you to make some inexpensive, quick and simple alterations that might give your property the wow factor and result in a quick sale.
Step 1 – Become your own critic
There’s a famous saying “Familiarity breeds complacency” and this can be particularly true when it comes to your house. When you live in the same property day in day out, you become blinded by items that others might pick up on immediately. How many times have you walked past that scuff on the wall or a stain on the carpet? Perhaps those weeds have grown another 2 inches since you last looked or your windows have inherited an extra layer of dirt?
We aren’t suggesting that you don’t take pride in the appearance of your property but it’s easy to become immune to some of the items that your buyers may find off-putting. The best way to identify what needs doing is to walk through your front door as though you are viewing for the first time. Think about what might put you off or what stands out like a sore thumb and don’t forget, the outside of your property is just as important.
Make a list of all the things your buyers may find off putting, or better still, invite a friend or family member over and ask them to write a list of all the things that stand out to them. Once you’ve made a list, set about sorting out the quick wins. A lick of paint on a scuffed wall or removing the coffee stain on the carpet. When you minimise the list of imperfections, those viewing your property are likely to be more forgiving if they don’t feel as though they’ve got a mountain of work to do before they can call it their home.
Step 2 – Cut the grass, weed the garden and sweep the driveway
This is the first impression prospective buyers will see. Start off on the wrong foot here and you might find that less important blemishes become magnified for those super critical viewers. Spring is the perfect time to get out in the garden and start making that difference.
If you’ve got a garden, cut the grass regularly once it starts to grow in the spring sun. Let your buyers imagine themselves lazing in the garden on a hot summers day, don’t allow them to fear having to clear an overgrown jungle before they can enjoy it.
Weeds start to grow rapidly in the spring so it’s always best to get some good weedkiller and start attacking the problem. Once they’ve died, don’t just leave remnants of a weed infestation for everyone to see, pick up the weeds and dispose of them.
If you’re feeling super adventurous, you can pick up a decent pressure washer from your local DIY store and start blasting the driveway, walkways and patios to restore them to their original state. Again, setting these great first impressions don’t have to cost the earth and may simply make the difference when prospective buyers come to view your property.
Step 3 – Refresh the carpets, rugs and walls with a good deep clean
We aren’t asking you to spend thousands of pounds on new carpets or paint for your walls, there’s little point in trying to make your home fit a prospective buyers taste because it might be that they like a different style. With that said, when your house looks clean, tidy and stain-free, you’re removing the obvious factors that a buyer may find off-putting.
It’s relatively inexpensive to hire a carpet cleaner from your local DIY store or supermarket and a good steam clean can remove those stains leaving your carpet as good as new. If you’ve got stains or scuffs on your walls, try touching up those areas if you’ve got some paint left over. Equally, a hot soapy sponge may help to remove any blemishes.
If you’ve got an old faded and tatty rug on the floor, we recommend folding it up and packing it away for viewings. Equally, if you’ve got a stain on the carpet that you simply can’t remove, you could try and cover it with a new rug or piece of furniture. Whilst we don’t want you to deliberately hide problem areas, the chances are, your buyers might replace carpets to suit their style, therefore, there’s no point highlighting the ugly just for the sake of it.
Step 4 – Clean the windows, plump the cushions and dust the cobwebs away
These are quick and simple wins that can help your property to look instantly better. As we enter spring time and the sun starts to blaze in through the windows, you can be sure that it will start to highlight any dust or dirt lying around.
Give the windows a good clean internally and externally so that they shine. A decent window cleaning solution from your local supermarket should do the job and will leave your property looking great. Don’t forget the window trim as well.
If you’ve got cushions on your sofa, give them a good plump up before a viewing and if you haven’t got cushions, you might consider buying some to offset a bland sofa and add some life to the sitting room.
Hopefully by now the winter spider infestation will have subsided making it the perfect opportunity to dust those cobwebs away from the dark corners of your skirting board, ceilings or light fittings.
Step 5 – Make your house light and welcoming
This is something that you could easily overlook when preparing your house for sale. Downlighters and table lamps can create a cosy atmosphere in your living room and bedrooms; up-lighting can add a splash of drama and great for highlighting any attractive ceiling features. We would recommend that you steer clear of using overhead lighting as it tends to be stark and a bit clinical.
Lamps, downlighters and picture lights, however, can change the look of a room instantly, for the better. Retailers like Ikea, The Range and Dunelm Mill are superb for lighting, and are very reasonably priced too. Your outlay here will pay dividends with the photos and the viewers.
The smell of a home is also an important consideration when you’ve got people viewing. If they walk through the door to the dogs half eaten breakfast or a bin that’s still got the leftovers from last nights dinner, these unpleasant scents could create a negative vibe. Get in the habit of placing some lightly scented diffusers around the house and if it’s warm outside, open the windows as much as possible to let a fresh breeze rid your property of a stale smell.
Step 6 – The kitchen is king so give it a crown
The kitchen is one of the most popular and best used rooms of the house. We all like the idea of baking a cake on a lazy Sunday morning or eating dinner as a family around the table, so it’s important to make the kitchen feel like a hub for the family to enjoy. Replacing a dated kitchen can cost thousands, so we don’t recommend you go to these extremes, but there’s no harm in a little makeover!
We don’t mean to be disrespectful when we say this but we are no longer in the 70’s or 80’s. If you have an ageing kitchen that’s from an era gone by, you could breathe some new life into it by painting the cupboard doors or replacing the work top with something a little more modern and stylish. Whilst expensive granite work tops may be all the rage, you can get some ample laminated chipboard alternatives that are inexpensive and could change the whole style of the kitchen.
If you’ve got doors with a wood stain coating, it’s worth considering a light or bright colour to make them look modern and sleek. We probably wouldn’t go as far as replacing the flooring but if you’ve got old tiles that have cracks and imperfections, you could consider a cheap alternative of laying a screed with a modern laminate wood effect on top.
The key here is to not spend thousands of pounds trying to second guess someone else’s style but a few hundred pounds can go a long way to reinvigorating the kitchen area. If someone walks into your kitchen and they see something that’s old and shabby, they will immediately deduct the price of a new kitchen off their offer and for what could cost very little to refurbish could cost you thousands when it comes to agreeing on a price for your property.
Step 7 – Dust off your tool box and start fixing
When an item is broken, we naturally have the perception that it’s going to cost money to put right even if it’s as simple as tightening a screw or hammering in a nail. If it’s broke, fix it! Your viewers will find themselves creating a list in their head of all the things they have to do if they buy your property. The key here is to minimise that list by addressing any areas of the property that could do with some light DIY.
Focus on cupboards and doors. Do they close properly? Are they hanging off their hinges? Quite often a couple of twists on the screwdriver to tighten things up will work wonders and leave your doors perfectly aligned. If you’ve got nails in the walls from where pictures used to be hung, it’s worth taking them out, filling the holes, sanding back and applying a fresh lick of paint.
Check the black rubber trim on all windows and doors as well. There’s nothing worse than opening a door with the trim falling off and it can create the perception that the doors and windows need replacing when they don’t! You can usually feed the trim back into place or if it’s become damaged, you could look to glue it into position.
Again, it’s the silly little things that may you may have become so accustomed to that can end up being the items that are seriously off-putting for those viewing your property. When people highlight areas of concern, it can quite often result in a lower offer for your property, therefore, the economics of spending a couple of hours of your day doing some DIY could save you a whole lot of money when an offer is made!
We definitely don’t suggest spending thousands of pounds on a property that you are about to move out of but when you can make some major improvements on a shoe string, it’s certainly worth the time and a little bit of money to ensure your property is presented at its very best.
It’s a competitive out there right now and it’s most certainly a buyers market. With new homes developments popping up here, there and everywhere, there’s simply too much choice and definitely not a shortage of property on the market for sale.
We often find that potential buyers are looking for a deal somewhere along the line. We’ve all become a little more price sensitive and we tend to make sure our money goes that bit further which means we are more likely to offer less money for something that’s not perfect.
There’s two important elements to consider when preparing your property for sale. 1) Attracting the attention of buyers in the first place and 2) Getting the price you deserve for your property. We hope that you find our articles useful when it comes to selling your property.
If you want to read a little more, why not check out our next article about Preparing Your Property For Viewings.