First impressions count
Before the first potential buyer steps over your threshold, there are ways you can make your home more appealing. Because first impressions are everything. And sometimes even the smallest changes make the biggest first impression.
This short guide will help you pull in potential purchasers and encourage interest. It doesn't involve big spending, just organisation, planning, a little common sense and, of course, plenty of preparation.
Start with your target in mind
Who is most likely to buy your house? If you’re in a one-bedroom flat on the top floor of a tenement, you’re not going to draw in families. So, you’re probably looking at single people and couples without children, maybe students, and more than likely first-time buyers. Make your home neat, chic and homely to maximise space and comfort.
If you’re in a three-bedroomed house, even if you only use two, you’re going to attract families. So, dress all three bedrooms as bedrooms so they can see how they’ll work. Simple, isn’t it? But it plays a very important role in appealing to your buyers.
Your pictures block theirs
You’re moving on, so put away your personal things. Your buyers want to see themselves in the home, not you. Loads of family photographs and personal items, particularly if you have — let’s say individual — taste could be off-putting. If nothing else, it gives you a head start on your packing.
Open a tin of elbow grease
No buyer wants to see a dirty house. Cobwebs aren’t cute, and dust bunnies aren’t delightful. Break out the vacuum cleaner and whizz round with a duster. Give hard floors a mop and wipe down kitchen surfaces. Clean the bath and the loo. And keep it that way – a quick swish round every day is all it takes.
Clear up that clutter
Your clutter not only makes it harder for buyers to imagine their home, it also makes your space look smaller. Pack it up and ship it out of there. Don’t be tempted to shove it all into your cupboards — your buyers will want to see in those too. Self-storage units don’t have to cost the earth, and it doesn’t matter how cluttered they get!
Dress to impress
A few simple but neutral touches can make your home more welcoming, and increase the initial appeal to potential buyers. Lightly scented candles add freshness. Don’t be tempted by heavy perfumes, they won’t be to everybody’s taste — and they may wonder what you’re trying to hide!
Have fresh, clean towels in your bathroom and, if you can, wash your windows and open all curtains and blinds. Add some fresh flowers — but get rid of them before they wilt. Make your bed. Keep kitchen surfaces clean and clutter free. And ask someone else to take care of your four-legged friend before viewers arrive. Not everyone loves cats and dogs, and an allergic reaction to your home is unlikely to encourage a sale!
Once you think you’re ready for viewings, ask a friend or colleague who you can trust for an honest opinion to take a walk round. Their unbiased impression will help you spot things you might have missed, and show you how others will perceive your home.
No repair job is too small when you’re trying to sell your home. You might know the trick to that drawer that sticks, but your buyer won’t. Holes and hairline cracks could cause worry about structural issues, even if they’re only in your paintwork. Grab a tub of filler and fill them in.
Oil hinges. Fix squeaky floorboards. Change blown lightbulbs. Straighten up that wonky cupboard door. All the little things you don’t even see any more will be the first things to catch your buyers’ eyes. And there’s no way to fix a poor first impression.
If your home needs major fixes, get a quote for doing them before you sell. A prospective buyer might still offer on your home, but they’ll take off more than the cost of fixing issues that show up in your survey. It can be worth your while taking them on for yourself.
Don't forget the outside
Take a look at the main entrance to your house. What do you see? Weeds or cracks in the pathway? Slippery moss on your stone steps? Stained decking or rotten fencing? Buyers want neat and clean. If the first thing they see is a shabby garden, it’ll colour their view of the whole house.
So, if you can, before they begin to arrive:
- Tidy the garden. Trim hedges, cut grass, pull weeds. If you can’t do it yourself, hire a gardener for the day. It needn’t cost the earth.
- Fix cracks or holes in external surfaces and, if needed, paint window frames, doors and the front of your house. It might cost up to £1000 or so, but it could add as much as £5000 to the value of your property.
- Replace or repair tired or shabby fencing.
- Clean windows and make sure gutters are unblocked.
- If you have a driveway or parking area, make sure it’s clear of weeds, cracks, stains and obstacles. Off-street parking can be a big bonus point, particularly in heavily populated places.
- The front door should be clean, bright and welcoming. If your letter box is old and rusted, fit a new one. If your doorbell doesn’t work, have it fixed or replaced. Make sure your house number is clearly visible so people can find you. Little changes make a great look.