Fail to prepare and prepare to fail they say and indeed when it comes to selling houses there’s a lot of truth in this. One of the most notable things in the sales we have negotiated since returning to work after the festive break is the speed of sale for homes brought to market in tip top condition. True sale times are in general falling. Demand far outstrips supply across many sectors especially two and three bed houses whether terraced, semi or detached. The £125,000 to £250,000 range is particularly buoyant. There is no doubt that one of the points of differentiation between homes which sell quickly and those which take longer is the quality of presentation. The care taken and modest expense incurred in getting ready for sale is being rewarded.
One reason could be that in an ever more frenetic world where balancing work/life commitments is itself a full-time job, buyers have neither the time nor inclination to take on minor repairs and redecoration. More and more buyers, although by no means all, are looking for what Americans call “turn-key homes” that is to say properties such as new builds where it’s simply a case of opening the door, arranging the furniture and putting on the kettle.
So with only a few weeks now until the clocks go forward – a traditional harbinger of the Spring housing market – what are the main jobs that would benefit your sale? Which simple tasks if undertaken could be the difference between a quick sale and a more drawn-out affair? Our top tips for Springtime sales are as follows: –
Kerb Appeal. External appearance is important. Most properties with whom you are competing will have had a wash and brush up before coming to the market, Does your property look its best? Are there little jobs that could improve first impressions? Polish brass and chrome door furniture or maybe even replace this. Sweep paths and power wash or bleach slabs etc. Plant up or purchase new pots for the front door. Go large if you can and make an impression. Make sure the gate doesn’t stick or squeak and that the doorbell works. A quick cut of any grass with the mower on a high cut won’t go amiss. Clear gutters of leaves and winter debris. Only do so if this can be done safely of course or ask your window cleaner or odd-job man.
First Impressions. Trite I know but you only get one chance to make a first impression so make sure the one you create is a good one. Halls should be spotless, clutter free, well-lit and warm. Piles of discarded trainers not only look untidy but suggest a lack of storage which could put off a buyer. Psychologists reckon that a buyer makes up their mind regarding a property within 30 seconds of entering it so use that time well.
Cleanliness is next to Godliness! Make sure your home is spotlessly clean and that it smells fresh. I know that in my own home the entrance area at the back door needs constant wiping where the dog brushes up against the door frame and wall as we return from muddy winter walks. Take the time to attend to these areas even if a quick emulsion is required. Kitchens and bathrooms especially need close attention. In the case of the former declutter surfaces of piles of junk mail, unused gadgets and appliances and in the latter rationalise bottles and potions. Think show homes and/or hotel bathrooms. A bale of fluffy white towels is an inexpensive purchase but can add a note of sophistication. Baby oil will bring up stainless steel surfaces to a beautiful sheen. Air your home. Plug-ins etc. can work well but don’t overdo it.
Say what it is and be sure it is what you say! If it’s going to be described as the dining room, then make sure it is set out as a dining room and accessorised accordingly. If the PC lives there along with the ironing board, a pile of ironing and the exercise bike get them out of there. Your viewers need to see potential and their family enjoying next Christmas around your dining table.
Relax and read a magazine! As above you are trying to create an ambience that allows your viewer to see their lives in your home. Buy a few homes and interiors magazines and take inspiration and pinch ideas. Your buyer will most likely be at the same age and stage as you were when you bought. Your use of the space may have changed as you have moved on in life but it’s important to reflect on what attracted you and those like you and to emphasise those qualities. It might be physical things such as the lovely old working fireplaces which have become a chore and are seldom lit. If they are going to be highlighted in sales materials with the intention of attracting buyers with a passion for original features, then light these and allow your viewers to bask in their warmth and the atmosphere they create. If what won you over when your family was young was the proximity of good schools and parks be sure to mention this.
We’re only scratching the surface here of the main things to look at before coming to market and a lot of it of course is common sense. You can find out more tips and hints about getting ready to go to market at our bookstore here and we’d especially recommend our “Be Prepared” guide on home reports and the areas covered. We’ve also recently created over 30 boards on Pinterest that you can find here that we hope will help inspire and motivate you. We’ve got boards for every room of the house plus “How to …” videos and articles covering wall paper hanging to floor sanding to furniture makeovers.