1. First Impressions Count
But contrary to popular belief, that “first impression” isn’t when a potential buyer walks through the door. It’s way before that, when a potential buyer looks at the photographs of your house.
So make sure your home is at its very best for the estate agent’s photographer, inside and out. And, of course, then you have to keep the standards up when that potential buyer does eventually walk through the door…
2. Make the Outside Look Great
People do judge a book by its cover, so make sure your “cover” is a shiny, coffee table hardback, not a worn old paperback.
Spend time tidying up the garden with simple things like mowing the lawn and weeding. Plant flowers if things look bare, and put stuff into those tubs – you know, the ones that someone bought you for Christmas three years ago, but you never got round to using.
As for the house itself, make sure everything is new and fresh and recently painted. “Kerb appeal” counts.
No one wants to look at a house where the owner has clearly said “you’ll have to take us as you find us”.
So get rid of all the clutter that’s found its way on to every surface (and all over the floor). Put the small stuff – from your kids’ scattered Lego to the slightly, erm… ‘individual’ teddy bear collection – into storage. Move some of the bulky stuff too, if it makes the room look cramped.
And consider actually replacing items. If the huge table from granny actually only just fits in the dining room, consider getting a smaller table that does fit, and makes the room look bigger.
Remember, the average UK house price is about £205,000. You can get a decent table for £205.
4. Start Painting
Get someone you trust to walk round your house, and tell you what needs re-painting. You might be surprised.
They’ll point out not just the faded spare room which you knew needed doing, but the vibrant purple living room wall which you only did last year but which, frankly, isn’t to everyone’s taste.
With everything newly-painted and undramatic, your potential buyers can see much more easily how they could live in your house. They might even say – and this is the clincher – “we could actually just move in as it is”.
5. Get Cleaning
It may seem obvious, but it’s hopeless to tell your potential buyer “oh, we’ve been meaning to do that, but we never got round to it”.
Get round to it. Now. If there’s a cupboard door hanging off or even a tap that’s dripping – get it repaired. If the grouting in your shower has gone black or the carpet in the dining room is threadbare – get it replaced. And clean everything.
You might also want to think about removing all traces of your pet. Some people are allergic to cats. Some people are scared of boisterous dogs.
Remember, you’re part of a sales team now. Make sure what your selling is buyer-friendly and up to scratch.
6. Make Each Room Work
Imagine your house is an album, and each room is a track on the album. It’s your job to make sure your house/album is all killer, no filler. Make each room sing.
Has the spare bedroom become a dumping ground? Then that’s your “dodgy track”. Make sure you ditch the collections of children’s books and camping equipment, and turn it back into a room that someone can actually sleep in.
Are the kitchen surfaces covered with food items, from cereal boxes to your extensive – and little used – herb and spice collection? Then for goodness sake, stash it all away.
Buyers – who look round an average of eight homes before buying one – are looking for reasons not to buy your home. One bad room can kill the mood.
7. Use Your Senses
Does your house feel too cold? Don’t say “we always wear jumpers”, turn the heating up.
Does your house look light and airy? Clean the windows, replace any broken light bulbs, consider more powerful lighting, use wall mirrors to make everything look bigger and brighter.
Does your house… well… smell? A bad smell, or even a not-that-bad cooking smell, is considered a real turn-off for buyers. So fix the source, whether it’s a drain or a bin, open the windows, clean everywhere and don’t dismiss the old freshly-brewed coffee trick.
8. Be a Salesperson
Think like a salesperson, and you won’t go far wrong.
From the moment you contact your first estate agent, to the moment the happy purchaser offers you the full asking price (it’s not luck, it’s preparation), you’re a key figure in a deal worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.
So think like one, and act like one.