So you’ve decided to sell your home. Preparing and getting ready can be a daunting and thankless job. Selling a house even under the happiest of circumstances can be stressful and the preparation exhausting. So, what can you do to minimise this?
Every year I am fortunate enough to help many families through this process and one thing I can say is even though it is hard work the rewards are worth it and there are many things you can do to make the process easier.
The majority of anxiety I find is centred around the first home open. After all it is the first time the doors will be open, the first time buyers will walk through your home, what will they think? have I done enough?…..what could I have forgotten that will have an effect on the price !! You can drive yourself (and your agent) crazy.
So let’s run through some quick tips to get you on the right path and hopefully minimise some of that stress:
Tip 1 – Get Going Now
Don’t wait until your house in on the market and not getting any viewings or offers. This can be one of the biggest mistake sellers make. Ensure that your home looks its absolute best the minute it goes on the market. It’s always a rush in the lead up to the first time the doors open so getting a head start so you don’t have everything to do at the last minute is just plain smart.
Get advice from professionals and listen to your agent as much as possible. As part of our service we offer a free home preparation consultation to all our sellers. We then give them a work plan, what they choose to do is then up to them. One thing you can be sure of, a well prepared home sells quickly and usually for more money.
Tip 2 – De-Clutter
De-Clutter, the word is bandied around on every home show and magazine. Unfortunately, as we’ve got wealthier, we have acquired more and more ‘stuff’. Not all homes were designed for a 42”TV in every room, let alone the DVD player, the ’X’ box, and every sort of gadget you can think of. Having every surface covered with things makes the place look untidy and smaller. The aim is to create ‘space in your place’ so don’t just shift it to another spot. If you don’t use it, loose it, pack it or sell it!
Tip 3 – Clean, Clean and then Clean again
No one likes a dirty house or the idea of living with other people’s dirt. If your home smells and looks clean you are creating a great environment for viewers. You want your viewers to be thinking about buying your home…not Cleaning it. Cleaning your home goes hand in hand with de-cluttering it. So get the bin, bags, dusters, sponges and rubber gloves out and get cleaning.
Like De-Cluttering, tackle a room at a time. Don’t forget to clean windows, they will let in a lot more light, and make the place feel brighter and bigger. Polish door fittings, taps, sinks and anything that will add a gleam to your home.
By both de-cluttering and cleaning your home, you will have done 2 of the most effective things you can in preparing your home to sell. Don’t underestimate their importance.
Tip 4 – The Drive By
One of the first things prospective buyers will do is take a drive by your home. Buyers will be looking to see how well your home is presented, the kerb appeal – does it pass the ‘first reaction’ test? How good does your home look compared to the others in the street? Does the gate work? Are the gardens looking good or full of weeds? Is the pathway clear or does it resemble an obstacle course, full of odds and ends, wheelie bins, the recycle bin and the kid’s toys?
All these little details matter. They add up to a picture in the viewer’s mind…is this house welcoming, well looked after, appealing or is it a disappointment? Your neighbours may not be selling, but you don’t want your home to be seen as a disappointment to the viewer because it doesn’t compare well with the neighbours.
Tip 5 – Pull out that Screwdriver
We all have those 100 little odd jobs that need doing around the house, that we have never got around to. People notice and it is off-putting because they are seeing work, not their new home. They may also overestimate how much it will cost to fix. Once again, don’t hesitate to call in the professionals. Hiring a local handyman can often, be quicker, cheaper and more effective than trying to do everything yourself
Tip 6 – Depersonalise
This really goes hand in hand with de-cluttering and cleaning. It’s important than when buyers walk through your home that they can picture themselves living in it – not going on a stroll down memory lane with you! Don’t distract the viewer with all of your bits and pieces. Take down the ‘Grade 2 piano’ certificates, replace that funny poem about farting in the bathroom, and thin out the photos in the living room. All these will end up distracting the viewer, they will concentrate on looking at things that tell them about you and not the house.
Keep bathroom personal care products out of view and ensure that the laundry area is undie and bra free!
Tip 7 – Keep It Tidy
One of the worst things about selling (if you ask anyone that has just been through the process) is that spur of the moment viewing – that phone call from your agent with short notice with that buyer that just has to see your home now! This means that while your home is for sale you really have to get into the habit of tidying away as you go along.
Tip 8 – Every Room Matters
It’s simple really. When we are buying a home we tend to be fairly specific ie looking for a 3-bedroom house, a 2-bedroom apartment etc. We buy by the number of rooms.
What you want the viewers to do once they leave your home and go away to think about it and talk about it with their partner is to remember each and every room. It’s important that every room is set up and defined for a specific purpose that makes sense to and attracts buyers
Often I see properties with rooms that are general dumping grounds, or confused because there is no obvious use for them, like a dining room piled high with office equipment and filing cabinets, or the second bedroom empty but for a set of drums and a wardrobe.
We are funny creatures us humans. Even if a bedroom is set up as a study, we don’t recognise it as a bedroom – we walk away remembering it as a study!!! This is a real mistake because if a viewer can’t see what the room is for they may well dismiss it as unusable or worse forget it. Make every room count. Give each room a purpose or use so that your viewers can see how they could use it.
Tip 9 – The Bigger The Better
At the end of the day we are buying space. Space is a premium so you want to make the most of yours. When selling your home think of ways of making the rooms look bigger.
Firstly, in your main rooms try and thin out the furniture, remove anything large, oversize and clunky. The more of the floor that can be seen the larger a room will feel. Try and keep the lines of the room clean. Clear away stuff stored on top of kitchen and bedroom cupboards, these make a room feel over stuffed and suggest a lack of storage space.
If you are selling, consider renting a storage unit for a couple of months. Pack up all those things you won’t need for the next few months like last season’s clothes, holiday stuff that you don’t need and any long term stored items that you will have to pack up before the move. The great thing about this is not only will your home feel larger but also you have tackled some of the packing before the big day.
Tip 10 – Let There Be Light
Ask any buyer what they want in a home and I will guarantee that in the top 5 most desirable features will be ‘light’. One of the biggest complaints I hear from buyers is that homes are too dark. Think about trying to get as much light into your home as possible. Pull back the curtains and give and sheers and netting a wash.
Change light bulbs in all the appliances. Increase the wattage in those lights that light up internal spaces like hallways and bathrooms. (Don’t overload the appliances though). Even on bright days most agents will like to have all the lights on in the home for opens as it gives depth to the rooms.