All too often, someone considering selling a property spends time seeking out an estate agent, negotiating a fee and agreeing a marketing price. He then sits back and waits for someone to come along and buy it. The agent is left to market the property as widely as possible, vet applicants, conduct viewings and then ensure that the process runs smoothly.
It is as if the property owner is leaving the whole enterprise to the agent and if the property fails to sell, then it is the agent or the market that is the cause. But, in fact, there are things that the seller may do which will greatly assist the agent in his endeavours.
A prospective purchaser gets one chance to arrive at a first impression and very often this will be made from the window of a car and as a switched-on seller you really must ensure that the property is presented from the road in as favourable a light as possible.
Ensure that the lawn is cut and neat and tidy. Get rid of any weeds and ensure that any bushes, hedges or trees are trim and tidy. Move wheelie-bins around the corner and out of sight. Make sure that porch lighting is working and that pathways, the driveway and the porch itself is swept and tidy. Clean the light cover if it’s dusty and has cob-webs. Clean windows and frames, especially surrounding the front door where they will undoubtedly be standing for a moment. And make sure that the door-bell is fully functional. If there is a garage door adjacent to the house, take a few minutes to wash it down. Remove clutter from window-sills anyway, but at the front of the property in particular.
Also consider getting rid of anything unsightly in the gutter or on the grass verge, even if strictly speaking this isn’t your responsibility. A buyer will be as concerned about the neighbourhood as the house.
Your agent should arrive a few minutes early and will generally go around the house to ensure that lights are turned on where appropriate.
Make sure all the lamps are working and replace those which have blown. Don’t forget under-cupboard kitchen lamps and extractor lamps. Straighten lamp-shades and remove cob-webs. Change lamps so that rooms are as bright as possible. Certainly change any coloured lamps for white.
Carpets and rugs
Make sure that carpets are kept vacuumed. You may get only short-notice for some viewings. Consider professional carpet-cleaning if there are stains. Clean vinyl, laminate or other floor coverings. Consider polishing where appropriate. You may personally love the feel of a carpet on your bare feet when you visit the bathroom in the morning, but this does put many people off. Give some serious thought to changing the carpet in bathrooms and cloakrooms to some vinyl.
Whilst it isn’t always appropriate to re-decorate and a good agent will advise on your particular circumstances, wipe away finger marks and anything else that will otherwise detract. That said, flock wallpaper, dark colours and old-fashioned carpets often put off purchasers, or affect the offer which they are prepared to make. Depending upon the value of your home, it may be worth spending a little now in order to achieve a better eventual selling price.
Your property might be in dire need of additional storage, but don’t make this obvious to potential purchasers; let them work it out for themselves. Consider storing things that aren’t absolutely necessary on a day-to-day basis in the loft, garage or shed or move things away from the property entirely. Try and arrange furniture so that skirting boards may be seen as this will give the impression that the room is larger than it is. Bookcases in particular and even things such as magazine racks to the side of a sofa obscure them and rooms look consequentially smaller.
Remove all but a minimum of knick-knacks from window sills, especially if the windows are relatively small. Letting light in and making sure that curtains are drawn right back tidily will help create the impression of space.
Airing cupboards and understairs cupboards are often of interest, so don’t simply hide junk there. A buyer will be wanting to know where the vacuum cleaner and linen will be stored easily.
In the kitchen, make sure that any washing-up has been done and that everything has been put away. If you have too few kitchen cupboards, and many houses suffer with this, take the smoothie-maker, the toaster, pressure-cooker, panini-maker, electric griddle, food processor or other similar pieces of kitchen equipment and put them in the loft, garage, shed, or somewhere similar. If your kitchen work-surfaces are clear, then your kitchen will give the impression of being larger that the house a viewer has just seen.
Many houses were built with an inadequate number of power points. In the 1960’s we had no idea that we’d need to charge mobiles, tablets etc. We had a t.v., but didn’t need power for a DVD player, Sky boxes etc. You might have to rely on extension leads and multi-plug converters. A purchaser might not even realise this, but the issue will come to mind pretty quickly if every socket is over-loaded with adapters and extension leads.
Make sure that they are all as clear as possible and that they have been recently dusted, polished or washed down. Kitchen work-tops and window sills, coffee tables, dining tables, bed-side cabinets etc.
Clean shower-heads and shower screens/curtains. Clean the bath, the shower tray, sinks and toilets. Leave toilet seats down. Neatly fold all towels and flannels. Make sure dirty laundry fits in the basket and that the lid is nicely closed.
Consider professional cleaning to bring them up like new. Alternatively, do it yourself and make sure the oven is clear of unnecessary baking trays etc. If it is good and clean, consider leaving the internal oven light on to emphasise the fact.
Ensure all beds are nicely made. Consider dressing them with throws and additional cushions. Find space in the wardrobe for all clothing. Ensure that the dressing table and bedside cabinets only have the bare minimum of clutter.
Treat the same as the front garden and ensure that it’s as tidy as possible. Don’t forget to consider the children’s toys, bicycles, trampolines etc. Clean any patio/decking with a pressure washer and treat where necessary. Make sure fences aren’t falling down. Consider treating any which look as if they haven’t seen a creosote brush for a long time. Rear-access needs to be useful, so make sure the gate works and that pathways are not overgrown.
Give it the tidy up that we all promise we’ll get around to but rarely do! If you have moved clutter from the house out to here, put it in boxes neatly stacked. If your Kenwood Chef is dumped with the Breville toaster just inside the door, the game will be up! Consider storing things in the eaves of the garage or shed, rather than the floor to give the impression that you shed or garage is even bigger.
Following these general tips will help give a slight edge and very often, that is all that is required.
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