Preparing Your Home To Sell For The Best Price

One benefit of having a good agent show your home is gaining honest feedback, something I seek out during and after the viewing and share with the sellers. Along the way, I’ve gained invaluable insight into what buyers will value, and what might put them off.

We often hear sellers say “people need to take the house as it is” and understand they do not want to invest time and money in a property they are about to sell. While sellers tell us their house needs the right buyer to fall in love with it, many buyers don’t have the vision to see past what’s on show. It’s worth making some simple tweaks that can help buyers fall in love with your house.

These simple tasks can be completed at little or no cost and will help your property stand out from the competition, with the potential to add thousands if not tens of thousands to the perceived value of your property and achieve a quicker sale.

You’ve created a beautiful home – show it off!

1. To decorate or not to decorate?

Clients often ask me for advice on what improvements they should undertake before their house goes on the market. Usually what they have in mind will add little or no value, whereas there are other improvements that will help, at a modest cost.

Touch up scuffs and stains on walls and doors with leftover paint you may have kept, or with sample pots that match the colour.

Consider repainting old or bold paintwork in white or a bright neutral colour.

Ask your estate agent’s advice on what additional improvements would benefit the house. It could save you thousands spent unnecessarily, and earn you thousands extra for your house.

Before and after photo of a kitchen. The before shows dated wooden units and the after shows the same units modernised by painting them blue & white

2. Declutter

This is probably the most controversial point! No one sees their belongings as clutter, and indeed your knick-knacks and decorations may be beautiful and definitely sentimental. However, they can be distracting and make rooms appear smaller.

Potential buyers will see the piles of paperwork and ornaments rather than the beautiful kitchen, light streaming in and the calm feel they are looking for in a home to make their own.

The less there is to distract a buyer, the more able they will be to imagine their own belongings in the house and picture themselves living there.

Excess ‘stuff’ also adds to the stress of moving – you either have to sort through it or pay to move it when your home is sold. Knick-knacks will need to be boxed up anyway, why not make a start and pack away some of the things that may stand between a buyer and an offer.

3. Finnish those maintenance jobs

Finish any maintenance work you’ve been meaning to do or are halfway through. Fix broken door latches, taps, curtain rails and dead light bulbs, consider replacing a damaged worktop.

The stain from a past water leak can spell trouble for a buyer, and will inevitably be questioned. It could be the water tank has been replaced, however precious time will have been spent addressing a seemingly negative point rather than focusing on the positives. A buyer may even forget the detail and remember your house as ‘the one with the water leak’.

We want your house to be perceived as pristine rather than unloved.

4. Spring clean and neutralise house smells

A good clean can help brighten rooms, remove musty smells and make the house look fresh and feel inviting.

Clean windows inside and out, clean the carpets, cooker hoods, architraves, de-scale taps and attend to all those nooks and crannies that get overlooked in the weekly clean. You may not notice these things but a buyer might.

Every house has a smell, but we won’t notice the smell in ours because we’re used to it. Be sure to eradicate the smell of smoke, pets and mustiness by cleaning thoroughly – even curtains if they’re old, and carpets if you have pets. Put some subtly scented plug-in air fresheners around the house and light candles before viewings.

Picture of a young boy sweeping the floor

Case Study: We represented a unique period home for sale, which was filled with belongings and memorabilia. The owners were clear they wouldn’t pack anything away until it came time to move. After a 45 minute viewing (it was a large home that took time to view) the viewers commented “it’s going to take them forever to move out of that house”. They made no comment on the beautiful period features or the large rooms, instead, their overriding impression was of the seller’s belongings. A missed opportunity.

5. Tidy the garden

Trim overgrown bushes to showcase a spacious, beautiful garden buyers will want to sit in. Pressure clean the patio, remove weeds, fix broken fences or gates and scrub off any mould.

Remove empty pots or fill them with plants, mow the lawn, and lay out the garden furniture making the best use of patio and decking areas.

In winter, put out any winter-proof furniture and enliven bland areas with seasonal plants.

6. Make sure every room has a purpose, and the right purpose

You may have rooms that you don’t use anymore. A lack of furniture can make a room look smaller. Virtual staging is an option (speak to your agent about this), or you may be able to repurpose furniture from elsewhere in the house. 

If you’re using the lounge as an office and the dining room as a spare bedroom, it can be hard for buyers to envisage how these critical living areas will work for them. Consider repurposing these rooms to show off the space you have.

Before & after photo of a room previously used for storage, that is then virtually staged as an office
Case Study: A lovely family home had been on the market for 4 months, with no viewings. It was beautifully presented inside and the back garden was beautifully manicured. However, the front garden had been neglected so from the curb the house looked as though it had been empty for a while. We advised some minor landscaping of the front garden, remarketed it at the same price and had 6 viewers, 2 of whom had been looking in that area for months but had previously overlooked this property.

7. Curb appeal

Buyers often drive past a house before requesting a viewing. So why doesn’t every one of them book a viewing? It could be the area isn’t for them, or it could be the exterior of your house didn’t motivate them to look inside.

We walk in and out of our homes every day, so take an objective look. Walk down your road past each house and take note of how they are presented. What did/didn’t appeal to you? The exterior presentation sets the tone, so check it is clean, tidy and inviting.

Tidy the flowerbeds, cut the grass, repaint the front door, and fix gates, fences or walls. Place a few feature pots with plants if the exterior looks a little bare.

8. Prepare your house’s CV

I ask my sellers to fill out a property information questionnaire, covering details such as the type and age of the boiler, restrictive covenants, planning permissions and appliances included in the sale. It’s well worth briefing your agent on this information – and making sure they have it to hand during a viewing – to avoid viewers walking away with unanswered questions. It may also identify small changes you can make to increase value.

Many of these questions will be asked by your solicitor further down the line. By starting early you can even out the workload over a period of time so you can focus your energies where they’re needed as the process gets underway and be ready to give your potential buyers the information they need to make an offer.

3 pictures showing a filofax, filing box and a weekly planner

9. Add some ‘staging’ touches

Along with presenting a clean and tidy house for viewings, consider adding some extra touches that give the house a luxurious lifestyle feel.

A room can be updated with on-trend cushions and throws, dated bedding can be replaced or covered up with neutral sheets. Fresh fluffy towels and minimal premium toiletries in bathrooms, a bowl of fruit in the kitchen and fresh flowers in living rooms. A lit scented candle in the hallway will help with a great first impression as your viewers arrive.

10. Ask for advice

Importantly, ask your agent for advice before doing any work. Often what sellers think needs doing is different from what a good agent knows buyers will appreciate and can save you spending money on the wrong tweaks.

It’s worth seeking advice well in advance of putting your property on the market, to give you time to carry out any work required.

Likewise, if you’re planning a major renovation and/or extension with a view to adding value, ask an agent for their opinion on the market value of the work you have planned.

We’re here to help!

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