The period between January and New Year is often a time for planning. We may plan holidays, New Year’s resolutions and plan things with our families. Those plans might include moving house or selling a property. This could be the result of a decision to separate, moving in with a new partner, a new job or a business venture. In each of these cases, there is a reason behind the decision to move or sell. It’s all about new beginnings. Whatever the motivation, there tends to be a priority – either speed of sale or the amount of the sale proceeds. It’s important to think about this before you put your property on the market (or even if you’re struggling to find a buyer for a property that is already on the market).

Maximising Your Speed of Sale

How quickly the property sells is important for a number of reasons. If you’ve ever had a property for sale you will know how stressful it is so the shorter the period the property is on the market the better. It delays you achieving those plans which are the motivation behind the sale. Such a delay can have practical implications such as extra rent or mortgage payments, family being separated (if one person has to relocate for work) or missing the opportunity to purchase your dream property. It should also be borne in mind that the longer property is on the market, the greater  the risk that it becomes “stale“ i.e. people who are looking for properties will have seen the property several times and may decide not to look at it, or at least will expect to negotiate a sizeable price reduction.

Image of a row of For Sale boards one of which has a sold slip on it.
Image of a glass jar containing coins labelled "house fund"

Maximising Your Sale Proceeds

You may want, or need, to achieve the maximum possible sale price for the property. Perhaps in order to enable you to buy the property you want to buy or, in the case of a separation, because each party needs the maximum in order to buy an alternative property. In order to maximise the sale proceeds you want your property to stand out from the other properties available and to stand out in a good way. If the market in your area is stagnant, then there may be more properties for potential buyers to choose from which makes it more important that yours stands out. There is a link to with the problem of a property becoming “stale “, the longer property has been on the market the more likely it is that offers will be fewer and lower.

 

Why Does Presentation Matter

Presentation has always mattered. Prospective buyers always form an opinion when they view a property. Yet it is more important than ever when selling a property these days. Why?

  • Expectations. With the advent of the Internet, people’s expectations, have soared. Whether it’s the online portals, estate agents websites or social media platforms. People’s expectations are much higher. 
  • Online property searching. Since prospective purchasers are doing their property hunting online, if they don’t like what they see they will scroll past and you might not even get them through the front door. 
  • Buyers will have most likely made a decision as to what properties to view before contacting an agent to book a viewing. They may even have been able to book a viewing online without actually speaking to an agent. In the past, with buyers visiting all the local agents, agents would have had an opportunity to recommend properties that buyers might not have initially been interested in. Although those conversations would still take place ,if they are not happening face-to-face in the office there isn’t perhaps the same opportunity to build rapport.
Image of a cosy snug
Picture of a camera because image is everything

Professional Marketing

Allied with the presentation of your property is your marketing. The two go hand in hand. With so much depending on the online appeal, it means that not only the content of the images, but the quality of the images matters. With any property, the images need to be taken by a professional photographer. You may wish to include video content and perhaps even drone footage. Your property needs to stand out from the competition and in a good way. Therefore when selecting an agent to market your property, check whether the agents use a professional photographer or at least gives you the option of professional photography. Images taken on a smart phone, no matter how good the phone is, simply aren’t the same.

Obstacles

Home staging is  not a concept that many people are aware of even though it has existed in the UK for a number of years, and some sellers do have certain assumptions about selling a property which can act as an obstacle to them understanding how it can benefit them and their sale. People have preconceptions about the attitude of potential buyers, and this can stand in the way of them understanding why staging can make a difference and why it’s worth investing time effort, and yes, perhaps money, in preparing their property for sale. So it’s worth exploring some of the objections that sellers may have.

 

Image of a contemporary kitchen with pale grey units and pink tiled splash back
Image of a messy room

“People Can See Past The Clutter”

When we are selling a property, we all know when the buyer moves in, the property will be empty. We will have moved our belongings out. So sellers imagine that buyers will understand that and will see past whatever is there at present. Some people are very good at seeing past what is there whether it may be clutter or existing decor and they are able to visualise how your property can be. However many people are unable to do so which means that you risk reducing the pool of possible buyers which means fewer offers and any offers being lower than they might otherwise have been.

 

“There’s No Point Doing Anything”

It is also easy to assume that any potential purchaser will want to make changes to the property, to “put their own stamp“ on the property as it is often referred to. There are two problems with this assumption. Firstly, whilst it is true that most buyers will want to put their own personality on a property and make it their own, they might not want to do so immediately. This means if the buyers think that there is a lot to do, and especially if they think that they will have to do it before they can move in, they will look for another property that won’t require that. Whilst they’re not necessarily expecting to find a perfect property, they want something that they feel comfortable moving into and making changes at their own pace or when they have funds available. Secondly, there are those who quite simply want that perfect property, they want to move straight in and start living their new lives.

 

Image of a kitchen cupboard hanging off
Image of Uk Bank notes

“I Don’t Want To Spend Money If I’m Selling

It’s understandable that if you are selling a property, you don’t want to spend money on making changes because you feel that you won’t see the benefit yourself. I always advise sellers to consider any money spent on staging their property as an investment rather than a cost. In most cases that investment will be a lot less than the enhanced selling price and even if that expenditure doesn’t add value some things need to be done simply in order to make a property sellable. I once sold a property where there was off-road parking for one car. Parking on the road was limited, so it made sense to add additional parking which I did. This was a not insignificant expense and possibly was not reflected in the selling price, but it undoubtedly made the property more sellable.

 

Target Market

When making the decision to sell, it is very important to assess your property including assessing your target market. How you present your property should be determined by the likely type, or possibly types, of buyer. If you have lived in the property for any length of time your likely buyer may not be the same as you, it may more likely be the person you were when you bought it. In order to give your property, the best chance of selling it needs to be presented to appeal to the people who are likely to buy it. This might mean changing things such as furniture or decor.

 

Image of a hallway with stairs leading up. There is a console table at the end and artwork on the wall at the bottom, of the stairs
Mood Board

The Difference Between Home Staging and Interior Design

I have mentioned how cost can be an obstacle to people embracing the concept of home staging. They believe that staging a property is going to be expensive. One reason for this I think, is that people confuse the concept of home staging with that of interior design. Interior design is all about personalising a property to suit the needs and wishes of the owner. It’s personal to them so it often involves a complete redecoration and refurnishing of a space. Home staging on the other hand is all about depersonalising the space so that it will appeal to the maximum number of potential buyers. It starts with what is already there. As a home stager I will look to see what can be done with what is already there, perhaps repurposing or moving furniture or accessories to a different room. Buying new may be necessary but I will keep it to a minimum.  I will offer a rental service which means that in appropriate cases I bring in suitable items rather than them having to be purchased. For an unfurnished property I will prepare mood boards illustrating my ideas for how the room or area will look.

 

Low Cost Or No Cost Actions

There are two activities which sellers can undertake at no cost although it might involve some time and effort. The first thing to consider if your property is occupied is clutter. Clutter in the form of too much furniture makes space feel small so the potential purchasers dismiss it. It also takes the form of the ornaments etc which act as a distraction when people are viewing.The second thing is cleaning. Prospective buyers want a property to be clean when they view even if they aren’t particularly house proud themselves. It shows that the property has been cared for and that the owner cares about the viewer. There is nothing worse than going in to a house and feeling that you need to go away and have a shower afterwards. Not only does a feeling that the property is dirty make viewers feel uncomfortable, in my opinion, it also shows a lack of respect towards prospective buyers. If you are expecting people to embark on what is most likely the most expensive purchase that they will ever make, I think it is simply a matter of courtesy to at least ensure that your property is clean and tidy.

Image of cleaning products on a counter top

Working With Me

One thing that is different about me is that I spent a number of years working in estate agency. Initially I worked as a part time viewing representative. This role involved showing potential buyers round properties. As part of this process I would listen to people and try to help them see how a property would work for them. I subsequently worked as a sales negotiator which involved registering applicants, taking details from them of what they were looking for and helping them to find the right property for them. Undertaking these roles meant that I heard the comments that potential buyers were making as they viewed (what they liked and what they didn’t), I saw how they would look inside cupboards and basically got a very good idea of buyers’ thought processes. This background means that I have a very good understanding of the sort of issues around presentation that do actually matter to potential buyers and some of these might surprise you. I have also worked as a conveyancing solicitor so I am familiar with the legal process. I’ve moved several times so I understand exactly how stressful moving or just selling a property can be.

Summary

If your plans for 2024 involve selling a property there is always a priority, whether it’s the speed of sale or the amount of the sale proceeds achieved, and it’s important to think about this before you put your property on the market. Presentation matters because prospective buyers do their house hunting online, which means that not only do the images which people see when looking at your property need to be appealing, but the quality of those images needs to be professional. Sellers might have assumptions about the attitude of potential buyers which can stand in the way of them understanding the benefits of staging a property. These can include things such as “people can see past the clutter”, “there’s no point doing anything” and “I don’t want to spend money if I’m selling“. You need to consider the target market i.e. who is likely to buy your property and you need to present it accordingly. Home staging is not the same as interior design and the starting point is working with what is already in place. There are lots of actions that sellers can take which involve minimal or no financial expenditure so staging your property does not have to cost a lot of money.

If you would like to learn more then call me on 07745 876182 to arrange a free no-obligation chat. I cover the Wirral, Cheshire and North Wales