First impressions count, especially when you are trying to sell your home. Even before you have invited the estate agent round for a quick valuation, you should be presenting your flat/house/mansion even, in the best possible light. And when those all-important photographs are taken to display on the website, you want to make sure that you are not being dismissed without a viewing simply because you haven’t taken the time to have a tidy up. So, I don’t even have to tell you how important it is to ‘stage’ your home for viewings, do I? Home staging doesn’t have to be expensive (although a few pounds spent, can often result in a higher sale price), and mostly it’s common sense, but I do have a few pointers.
This post was written in collaboration with Tepilo, a UK-based online estate agent founded by Sarah Beeny, a TV presenter on Channel 4. Which also happens to be one of the sites I visit when pursuing my guilty pleasure of stalking estate agent listings.
We’ve all done it. We see a lovely house on an estate agents listing, we make an appointment, and then when we arrive to be met with overflowing bins on the front path, we drive straight past. We don’t even want to know what lurks inside. You want that all-important first impression to really count. Tidy up the front garden. Mow the lawn if you have one and weed the flowerbeds. Make sure there are no obstacles in the way of the front door – especially the bins! Clean the windows. Paint the front door if it needs it, or at least give it a good clean, and consider a couple of pots of seasonal flowers. Your potential buyers will be queuing up to get in.
Declutter and Deal with Disorder
After kerb appeal, decluttering is probably the most important task you should undertake. We are all guilty of hoarding to some extent but we don’t have to shout it to the world. Put things away! If you don’t your home is going to look smaller, and will suggest to potential buyers that there is not enough storage space to cope with family life. At least confine the kids toys to one room. Keep the kitchen counters free of everything except the day to day essentials, and keep the entrance hall free of surplus coats and shoes. Now might be a good time to get rid of items that are no longer useful or loved. You’ll have to do it anyway when you move and it’s much easier to do it now. It might also be a good time to cut down on some of the furniture. Put it into temporary storage if you have to. The more space you have to move around rooms the more spacious your home will seem.
Get Out the Scrubbing Brush
It’s not rocket science. Your home should be as clean as it possibly can be. I’ve already mentioned the windows, but pay particular attention to the the kitchen and bathroom(s) too. It should be easier to do this task now you’ve had a good clear out. A clean home will smell fresher and be much more appealing too. It might even be worth giving the carpets a shampoo if they are just grubby and not too old. Ditto the curtains. Make sure there’s a fresh duvet cover on the bed when viewings take place and remove the wet smelly towels from the bathroom too.
Repair or Replace
Be honest, how many unfinished jobs do you have lurking around the house? Now’s the time to get them finished. That wonky cupboard door, the broken garden fence, and the grouting that you never did get around to. Do them! They might be small things but buyers will see them as a sign that the property hasn’t been maintained. They might even be thinking that there’s bound to be other unseen problems that could end up costing them lots of money. For bigger jobs, like repainting a tired room or replacing a non-existent lawn, you will have to evaluate whether the cost will be worth it in the long run. Bare in mind, you may not recoup the outlay, but you may sell the house a lot quicker.
Make it Clear
Now you’ve done all of the mundane but essential jobs, it’s time to assess how your house will appear to strangers. Remember you are not just selling a house, you are selling a lifestyle too. Get a friend (an honest friend mind) to walk around and give their opinion. Often we stop seeing things that are familiar to us and it helps to see things from another view. Make the purpose of each room abundantly clear. It might suit your family to turn the dining room into a playroom and eat your dinner in front of the TV, but buyers need to see where the dining table will go. Many people these days work from home so make sure there’s a spot (away from the rest of the family) where a desk can sit. And if you have a spare bedroom that is just used as a dumping ground, go back to DeClutter and Deal with Disorder, take note, and then turn it back into a bedroom.
Make it Pretty
Remember – lifestyle! Hopefully you won’t have decluttered so much that there is nothing left. A few accessories make a home feel lived in, just keep hidden the really personal stuff like family photographs and your collection of matchbox cars. Have some select books on show, a few plants, a vase of flowers and a bowl of fruit. Light the fire if it’s winter (if not open the windows to let in fresh air), or use a diffuser to give off a subtle scent. You want your potential buyers to linger in each room and hopefully stay so long they end up making an offer.
All images used are properties currently for sale on the Tepilo website.