Home selling

A few years ago, you could stick any old property on the market and it would be snapped up immediately by buyers keen to get on the ladder, move home or simply to build up their property portfolio.

Five Point Plan

1

Space is key: Buyers want as much space as possible, so make the most of what you have. Dark furniture and colour schemes makes rooms appear smaller, so brighten up where possible. De-clutter wherever you can.

2

Go neutral: Your tastes are irrelevant when selling your home, it’s all about allowing prospective buyers to imagine living in the property. So the décor should be plain, allowing them to focus on the specifics of your home.

3

Keep it clean: No-one likes to see a kitchen full of unwashed pots and pans, or furniture covered in dog hair. So make sure your property is spotless during viewings.

4

Focus on the garden: A garden is a huge selling point, so keep it neat and well-maintained so viewers can see the space and potential. Try to give the impression that it doesn’t need much looking after – there aren’t many people who want to spend all their free time digging flowerbeds!

5

Choose your agent carefully: Pick an agent with experience in selling your kind of property and who promotes.

Now, though, it’s a little more difficult. And if you want to get the best price for your home, there’s some work to do when you sell. Research shows that it’s generally the cheaper options that are more likely to work, so you don’t need to start building a conservatory or installing a swimming pool – it’s about getting the basics right to make your property as attractive as possible.

Look at your home with a critical eye. Buyers like to see space, and potential. So regardless of your personal choice, remove as much as possible from the property to make it look bigger. Kids toys, ornaments and larger pieces of furniture should all be tidied away. Focus on the hallway – clear away coats/clutter; the bathroom – hide all your products; and the kitchen – clear the surfaces of appliances, jars, tins, etc, and replace any ragged tea towels or smelly bins.

Then look at the décor. Your personal choice may be for bold, vibrant colours, but this won’t be the same for everyone else. A quick lick of paint in neutral colours won’t break the bank. It’s all about appealing to as many people as possible.

If you’d rather not redecorate, it is still essential that the house be spotless. Getting industrial cleaners in to really make the place sparkle will be money well-spent; have the carpets, sofa covers, oven and windows cleaned while you’re at it. Pay special attention to the kitchen and bathrooms, which need to be inviting and hygienic; finish up with a new loo seat; fresh white towels; and a strategically placed plant or two. Watch out for over-stuffed wardrobes – yes, people do look in them to check the amount of storage space – so clear them out. Finally, the garden is now seen as an additional room, so be sure your garden feels like a great space for entertaining and relaxing.

Once that’s all done, it’s time to get the estate agents round. Get at least three different agents to see your home – go for those with boards up nearby, and preferably for the same sort of property. It’s not always wise to go for the agent that gives you the highest valuation; it may be that they are overvaluing your home just to get it on their books.

It’s also a good idea to check out what similar properties have sold for in the area. You can find that out by going online to www.mouseprice.com, which is run by the Land Registry.

When speaking to estate agents, see how they market your property. Lots of people do their research online nowadays, so it’s vital that they list your home on the major property websites such as Primelocation and Rightmove. Commission fees are often negotiable, so it’s worth trying to beat them down on cost. Sole agency is cheaper than multi-agency, so when you agree a deal, do so for a limited time – if you haven’t had any offers after a few weeks, you’re then free to take your business elsewhere.

Once viewings start, it’s usually best to leave it to the agent – they will know what buyers are looking for and will be able to point out the attractive features. First impressions count, and you’ll want the house to appeal to as many people as possible; the more people there are who like the property, the higher the selling price should be.

So sweep up, and make sure the front yard and hall to your house are tidy and inviting. Leave the pets with a neighbour, clean up any cat hair as many people are allergic to animal hair. Turn the lights and heating on; air out the house; and don’t smoke or cook a curry before viewings. If you’ve got parking, leave the space free for the buyer – this will add to the whole experience.