Selling your home “as is” in the current climate, helps sell the competition, so put time and effort into making a good first impression, says property expert Laura Henderson
Getting your home ready for viewings is all important in the current buyer’s market – like preparing a set for a blockbuster movie complete with atmosphere, props and lighting. Why? Because your buyer audience will decide within minutes of viewing whether or not your property is a hit: an unkempt garden or peeling paintwork is often all it takes to secure a lousy review and send them house hunting elsewhere. Giving your house kerb appeal however, isn’t just about dressing for effect. It’s about encouraging potential buyers to make an emotional connection, to see how easy it will be to live there, rather than spend time imagining how the place might look and how hard it might be to whip it into shape. So how do you go about showing your home to best effect?
Get snap happy
It’s human nature to overlook what we see every day, but when you see things on screen, you get a much-needed ‘other view’. So take photographs of your property and look at them on the computer. It will allow you to critique each room in sequence and make improvements accordingly.
Lose the ‘me, myself, I’
Your home is no longer yours once that “for sale” sign goes up, but you still need to prepare it so potential new owners pick up on the positive undercurrents of your efforts. Start by depersonalising and neutralising spaces – remove photos, clothing and personal items and replace them with more generic alternatives. You can still give your home personality with carefully chosen items such as decorative mirrors or scatter cushions; just keep the family heirlooms and kiddie art to a minimum.
Make an entrance
The exterior of your home is the first thing potential buyers see. So take a look at your property from across the road – make sure your front garden frames the house with a design that gives it character, but which also complements the street. Keep garden paths wide and weed-free to emphasise the feeling of arrival and separate any driveway with small trees and hedging plants. Give your front door a fresh coat of paint and stick with quality door furniture that suits the age and style of the property.
An excess of clobber makes it difficult to concentrate on what you’re viewing; the more we see in a room, the less we process. Clutter also has the knack for making everything look smaller, so strip back rooms. Put large items of furniture, knickknacks and books into storage. Prune furniture – people tend to line their walls with chairs and tables – floating furniture away from walls into cosy groups makes the traffic flow more obvious and the perimeters clear.
Light the way
Atmosphere is best created by varying light levels according to your mood and the time of day, so install dimmers. Remedy bad lighting by increasing the wattage in your lamps and fittings. Aim for a combination of floor, table and overhead lighting in key rooms to create contrast and highlight eye-catching objects.
Laura Henderson is a property columnist, author and investment expert. Her latest book Tricks and Mortar: The Little Book of Property Wisdom (£12.99 Book Guild) is out now.