According to data from Rightmove, the average time to secure a buyer has doubled from a speedy 31 days in April 22, to 62 in January 2023. From my own (admittedly unscientific) research on the platform, there are properties that have been on the market for periods of between six and eight weeks and also properties that have had a price reduction (sometimes more than one). Whilst it seems true that the overheated market that we have seen over the last few years has finally run out of steam, I don’t think it is all doom and gloom despite what the media might suggest. Rightmove also reports that first time buyers are returning to the market which is a good thing for the market as a whole. However, in some cases sellers (and their estate agents) are going to have to work harder to achieve the sale than they have recently. There seems to be a bit of a stand-off at the moment with buyers unwilling to pay what they worry could be over inflated prices, and sellers who perhaps have not yet adjusted to the return of the market to pre-pandemic mode. So in this blog I am sharing some top tips to help you prepare your home for sale to give you the best chance of selling quickly and achieving the price you want.
Make Your Property Easy to Find
If you’ve moved house before, have you ever had the experience of waiting for potential buyers to turn up for a viewing or perhaps you’ve been notified by your estate agent following a scheduled accompanied viewing that the viewers didn’t turn up? If so have you ever wondered or been told that it was because the prospective purchasers couldn’t find the house? Maybe they gave up and went home.
When I was undertaking viewings during the time I spent as an estate agent, sometimes I would arrive at the stated destination but have difficulty identifying the actual property. I know that these days sat nav makes finding an address very easy but it isn’t always accurate, especially in more rural areas.
Giving up on finding a property may be an extreme reaction but it makes sense to make things as easy as possible for viewers so that they arrive relaxed rather than hot and bothered. A For Sale Board helps your property stand out and can alert potential buyers who might not have been actively looking. Ensure that your house number or its name is clearly visible from the road.
Enhance Your Kerb Appeal – The Entrance
Kerb appeal – it’s a phrase that is commonly used in property circles, but what is kerb appeal? Kerb appeal refers to the external appearance of your property and its surroundings. It includes the property itself and the garden or outside space, are they well-maintained, do they look attractive and instil in prospective buyers a desire to go inside? Let’s start with the entrance.
Check that the exterior of your property is well maintained, do window frames or gutters need repair? Refresh your front door, wooden doors can be painted and did you know that UPvC doors and window frames can be sprayed? Replace door furniture that may have become tarnished. Add pots or hanging baskets to create an attractive entrance.
Enhance Your Kerb Appeal – The Surroundings
Consider the driveway or path, it might need power cleaning or fresh gravel. Ensure that lawns are mown and flower beds weeded. If borders are lacking colour or interest add in some seasonal flowers, bulbs or shrubs. If you have invested in a statement plant you want to take with you, can plant it in its pot which makes for easy removal when the time comes. (Do remember to let your solicitor know if any plants are being taken when you move).
Attend To Any Outstanding Maintenance
One thing that often gets overlooked when moving is DIY and property maintenance. Especially if you have lived in a property for a long period time it is easy to not notice little niggles or even more major issues. Life gets in the way and you never get round to it. When you come to sell, however, be aware, your buyers WILL notice because they are seeing the property with a fresh pair of eyes. Why is it so important? If buyers see minor things that need attention they may question how well the property has been maintained and wonder if they aren’t going to encounter more serious defects. Whilst little niggles may not put them off they will be mentally deducting the potential costs of repairs when calculating any offer (and likely over estimating such costs) and if there are an accumulation of little things they may decide it’s too much for them to do.
The first thing to do is simply walk round the interior and exterior of your property and take a good hard look. Pretend that you are a potential buyer having a viewing and determine to be highly critical. Make a note of every little issue. Make a list and prioritise. Some tasks will be a quick 5 minute job whereas others may take a little longer and/or require professional help.
We hear a lot about clutter, often in the context of well-being and the effect the clutter has on our emotional state. It may be thought that this has nothing to do with selling your house but actually, how potential buyers “feel “about your house is very important. If you’ve moved before have you ever heard yourself saying “I can’t put my finger on it but it just doesn’t feel right“. More directly, clutter can have a negative impact on your prospects of selling the three reasons –
Space – clutter makes the room feel smaller than it actually is, leading viewers to decide that the property isn’t big enough for them. This is true even when viewers have the dimensions of the room from the property particulars.
Visualisation – a common response when the subject is raised is “but buyers know that this stuff isn’t going to stay “or “but I’ve got to live here and I need this “. In reality a lot of people struggle to visualise how a room would really look either empty or with their belongings in it
Distraction – too many “things” may mean that people are looking at pictures, ornaments etc and aren’t focusing on the actual space.
Take time to have a thorough declutter. Be prepared to do without certain things while your property is on the market. You can even make money by selling unwanted items and the less you have to move the lower your removal costs will be.
Clean, Clean, Clean
You may have heard the expression “cleanliness is next to godliness” and I certainly feel that the importance of cleanliness cannot be over emphasised when selling your home. Alongside clutter, cleaning is one of the most important factors when selling. It may seem obvious but it can get overlooked in the busyness of every day life.
First impressions count – viewers looking round your house will make a decision very quickly about whether it’s the right property for them. A house that is clean and smells fresh is appealing and sends out the signal that it is looked after and cared for by its owners.
When you sell your house you are asking people to spend a lot of money, buying a house is usually the biggest purchase we ever make so I feel that the least we can do as the homeowner is ensure that the property is sparkling clean.
Start by having a thorough clean at the outset, including all the aspects that you might save for a Spring clean, such as doorhandles, skirtings etc. If you are not a fan of housework or don’t have time, consider employing a specialist cleaning company to do a one off deep clean and an oven clean. After this, have a schedule for regular cleaning to keep on top of it or retain the professional cleaner for the period your home is on the market. Always prioritise kitchens and bathrooms.
Our homes reflect our personality – the way we decorate, the furniture we buy, the accessories we add. This is a good thing, after all it would be very boring if every property was exactly the same. However, when you are selling, that personality as reflected in the your home may be getting in the way of that sale without you being aware of it. An added difficulty is that because it is your personality, potential buyers may not actually feed back that that is what is putting them off because, on the whole, we are polite and we don’t like to give offence. This means that viewers may give some other reason why the property isn’t right for them.
So what does depersonalising involve?
- Decor – some people struggle to visualise and others simply don’t want to be bothered doing a lot of decorating. The major aspects of decor such as walls and flooring should be neutral. Add colour with a subtle feature wall with paint or wallpaper and with accessories such as rugs, throws and artwork.
- Personal items – Too many personal possessions can give off a very strong statement of ownership and potential buyers can struggle to imagine themselves living in the property because the property reflects the current owner so much. So remove any statement family photos and portraits and replace them with artwork that is more general such as landscapes, foliage or abstracts. The occasional small family photo in a frame, on a bedside table say, is fine.
It is difficult because you want to make it easier for potential buyers to picture themselves living in your home with their own possessions, but at the same time you don’t want your property to be bland and uninteresting.
Colour and decor can have a major influence on how we feel about a space even if we aren’t obviously aware of it. The decor of your home could be a giveaway for when it was last updated. Decor that is very individual is a risk when selling. You are taking a chance that someone will view who shares your taste. You want your property to appeal to as broad a range of potential buyers as possible. This can be especially tricky if your property could suit a wide range of groups rather than just one or two. A fresh coat of paint is one of the easiest and most cost effective actions you can take when selling your home. It is best to decorate with neutral colours in the most important aspects such as flooring and walls. This doesn’t mean that it has to be boring but it does provide the proverbial blank canvas that enables potential buyers to easily imagine themselves living in your home.
Create Focal Points
You want each room to have a focal point especially in the principle rooms such as living room, main bedroom and kitchen. A focal point is something to draw the eye, a fireplace or architectural detail but even an artwork, piece of furniture or a view. Stand in the doorway and assess what you see. A focal point can also be used to distract buyers’ attention from a feature that isn’t so attractive.
Give Rooms A Purpose
If a room or space lacks purpose it can be difficult for buyers to work out what it is meant to be used for. Few of us have the luxury of too many rooms or too much space. This means that the majority of us want to make every inch count. If a room or a space seems to lack purpose then it may be considered wasteful. Even if a room is given a label in the agent’s particulars some buyers may struggle to “see” it as that. At the other end of the scale, when a property is larger than the owner needs (e.g. the empty nest), rooms may end up as a dumping ground, laundry room or just left empty. Identify your target market and what that market is most likely to be looking for. This could be an extra bedroom, a home office or playroom. In an open plan space, zoning is very important – living area, dining area, work zone etc. There are various ways in which you can zone – using a different colour or wallpaper on the walls, flooring or rugs, pieces of furniture that divide areas.
Create an Entertaining Area
Outside space has really come to the fore in terms of what buyers want. However, big or small your outdoor space make the most of it by demonstrating that you at least have somewhere to sit and enjoy a coffee or glass of wine. In larger spaces have separate sitting and dining areas. There may even be space for some form of outdoor kitchen, barbecue or pizza oven. A source of lighting and heat are a bonus.
Selling If You Have Pets
The findings of a survey conducted by the PDSA showed that in 2022
- 52% of UK adults own a pet
- 27% of UK adults have a dog with an estimated population of 10.2 million pet dogs
- 24% of the UK adult population have a cat with an estimated population of 11.1 million pet cats
- 2% of the UK adult population have a rabbit with an estimated population of 1 million pet rabbits
That’s a lot of pets! If you are selling and are a pet owner there are a few things to bear in mind.
You love your pet, which means that you might not realise that not everyone shares your enthusiasm. Some people are allergic to animals or certain kinds of animal. Some people are scared of animals or particular animals, others simply don’t like animals. It doesn’t necessarily solve the issue simply to take the pet out when viewings are taking place, because things that provoke an allergic reaction, such as pet hair, may still be present. In extreme cases potential buyers won’t view or they take a quick look round and don’t take time to really consider the property. I always recommend that if you have pets, get someone you trust to walk round your home and give you an honest opinion as to whether there are any pet odours. It can be worth having carpets, upholstery and curtains cleaned. Remove all feeding bowls and litter trays in advance of viewings and check your outside space for any unwanted deposits.
Selling When You Have Children
Are you looking to upsize for more family space? Life has moved on since you bought your current home – you’ve married, got a partner, had a child and the family is growing. In short, you’ve outgrown your home. Selling with a young family is difficult particularly if you are upsizing. There are the practicalities of day to day living while you are on the market such as needing toys, equipment etc to be accessible, mealtimes and school work. In my experience a lot of home owners expect to continue as normal without understanding that when you are selling certain compromises need to be made. The practicalities are combined with the fact that it may be obvious why you are selling – toys, play pens etc. taking up a lot of space.
Stuff – We all know that children have a lot of things and that they seem to get everywhere. If you are moving because the house isn’t big enough you don’t want to advertise the fact. If viewers see toys, games consoles etc all over the place they will conclude that the property isn’t big enough for them either. Remember, clutter prevents potential buyers seeing the true space on offer. Engage with your children on this and get them on board. You can make a game of it with younger children and bribe older ones. Pack up any items that the kids want to take with them but which they can manage without for the period your home is on the market and find somewhere to store them. Have storage boxes that the toys etc can be thrown into when a viewing is looming and, if necessary, be prepared to stick them in the boot of your car.
The presentation of your property has never been so important. Potential buyers are doing their house hunting online, they are also on Instagram or watching series such as Selling Sunset so their expectations are high. You need your property to stand out from the others and get buyers to stop their scrolling. If you are planning to sell your home and want to maximise your chances of selling quickly and for the best price, or if you are struggling to sell then get in touch for an informal chat on 07745 876182. I cover the Wirral, Cheshire, the North West and North Wales.