Posted on October 07, 2019 at 11:39 AM
You’ve decided to take the plunge and market your property for sale. It’s exciting and unnerving at the same time. What if no-one likes it? What if something that you’ve done, because it suits you, is the very thing that is putting people off? There’s a lot of folklore out there as to what you should do to ready your property for putting on the market. The time-honoured smell of baking bread and fresh coffee have been well documented, so well in fact that if everyone knows about such enhancements to a property’s atmosphere, it rather loses its impetus and appeal. But is there a right way and wrong way to offer your property to prospective buyers? Well, of course there is. But what will be right for one viewer will be wrong for another and you’re not going to know what is going to ‘hit the spot’ before a prospective buyer comes to look around. We at Y Homes Estate Agents know only too well that waxing lyrical to a prospective buyer about the half acre garden, can fall flat when the lawn hasn’t been mowed all summer. In order to make your home appealing to a variety of buyers, you don’t have to spend a fortune or live your life like a Stepford Wife, screaming at the kids not to even think about dropping that shoe onto the just polished floor. Not that a Stepford Wife would scream at the children of course. They wouldn’t need to.
So, what’s the best way forward? There have been lots of programmes spouting opinions on whether or not you should de-clutter and de-personalise your property before going to the market. That’s a personal choice but I would certainly suggest de-cluttering. There is nothing worse than having to show someone around a property where their entire attention is focused on not knocking things over or touching something that might start an avalanche of debris. I have shown people around a property where they had to turn sideways to move from room to room and when I called them for feedback they couldn’t remember anything about the property itself, just the clutter.
Take a look at your property through a stranger’s eyes. What are they going to see, what are they going to remember about your property? If you’re a bit of a hoarder then rationalising the contents of your property is an essential move, especially those on display. And you might have to be ruthless – it’s no good just stacking everything in the nearest cupboard as viewers quite often like to look in cupboards and you don’t want everything falling on top of them. Whilst you’re clearing out a few years’ worth of books you’ll never read again and ‘things that you might need one day’, take a look at what you have become immune to in your property. The wonky wardrobe door that has a ‘knack’ to opening and closing, but because you have the knack, you’ve stopped noticing it anymore. The door handle that comes off in your hand unless you know not to pull on it too hard. The broken tile that you’re always going to get around to replacing but never have because the plant that you’ve put in front of it hides it nicely.
The issue with living in a property for any length of time, but especially if you’ve lived there a long time, is that you no longer notice the wear and tear or the fact that things are way out of fashion. When we moved into our home 25 years ago, one of the first things we were going to do was change the wardrobe doors as they were old fashioned in 1992. We changed them in 2012. We had just stopped noticing them.
And what of the decorating? Interior design is as susceptible to fashion trends as much as anything else. In the 70’s and 80’s Artexing was the new black. Not now. The tried and trusted comment is always to have neutral décor throughout, and that remains a rule to abide by. But it doesn’t mean to say that if you’ve succumbed to the current trend of coloured feature walls or bold wallpaper that no-one is going to want to buy your property. If the whole room is painted black or all four walls are covered in busy wallpaper that gives one a headache, then people are going to remember only that. But if your chimney breast has bold wallpaper and it’s not to a viewer’s choice they tend to think, ‘ I don’t like that but I can change it’. It’s just trying to make sure that the structure, location and flow of the property is what a viewer takes away with them.
A train of thought often mooted is that of removing photographs and family memorabilia. I’m not a fan of this although some agents are. Whilst you’re selling, you still have to live in it, and you can’t put your life on hold for however long it takes. Telling your five year old when they come out of school, that you can’t display their egg box version of the Millennium Falcon because it’s not giving your home the ‘right ambience’ is not going to go down well and nor should it. I agree, if it’s to be added to a collection of another fifty egg boxes and therefore teetering on the cusp of becoming an egg box mountain then you have bigger problems! It’s a fine line, but again, look at it through a stranger’s eyes. Are you making the property look loved or untidy? I’m not a fan of clearing everything familial and comfortable out, bringing forth the question on one occasion ‘Have they already moved out?’ No, they’ve just gone out whilst I conduct the viewing.
Another thing that is worth mentioning is the pet issue. Not everyone coming to view your property is going to love your dog, cat or hamster. Or the snake in your terrarium. If possible, take the dogs out and let the agent conduct the viewing, try and get the cats to go out and either cover or move the hamster or snake house. It’s not always possible I know but having had a viewer become quite hysterical at the sight of a vendors terrarium and its occupant, I can vouch for the fact that it’s worth it. Wash up the dog and cat bowls and put them out of the way and remove their beds and cat litter tray if you can. Smells are another turn off so take a minute to discover if the property smells of dog or cat – if you are around it a lot you may no longer notice it. Also, be aware of whether or not the smell of the smoked haddock or bacon sandwich that you had for dinner last night is still hanging around. I don’t suggest that you put air fresheners all around the property – that starts the train of thought that you might have something to hide. At a viewing of a property that we were looking at for ourselves (we’re back to 1992 again) our young children announced that they had counted ‘16 air fresheners in this house, mummy’. We made a sharp exit. The trick is to be subtle, not overpowering.
Again, it comes down to the impression that you want to make on the viewers and what they will remember about your property. People are likely to remember the very thing that you don’t want them to when they are considering which property to choose so give as many positive points as possible, and simple things like being, clean, tidy and smelling fresh cannot be overstated. A bunch of flowers in a vase on a table can transform a dull room. If it’s a dull day, lots of subtle lighting works so much better than the central light or put the pelmet lighting on in the kitchen. It’s an exercise in trying to portray the lifestyle that the new occupant can have in this property. Try and think back to what you loved about it when you viewed it, unless of course, that’s the very reason you’re now trying to sell it!
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