Had hundreds of viewings and no one made an offer on your property yet? Or maybe you are looking to sell your house but don’t want to spend the next couple of years having to hide things away with 15 minutes notice from the estate agents! Whatever your situation, it’s important to prepare ahead of putting your property on the market so you don’t waste your valuable time and money.
1) Choose your target market to Sell your House
It is only natural that any buyer will want to picture him/herself living in your property before they make an offer. The first step therefore to sell your house as quickly as possible is to consider your target market. For example, if you feel a professional couple would be ideal, then turn a spare bedroom into an office.
Conversely, if you think it’s a young family who will be most interested in your property then clear out the spare room of any junk and perhaps consider putting a bed in it so buyers can see it can be used as a children’s bedroom.
2) Get the price/timing right!
Easier said than done maybe. But there is absolutely no point putting the house on the market for considerably more than other homes in your area unless you are 100 per cent confident that it is worth considerably more!
Often smaller independent agents are better for selling particular types of homes or maybe specialists in particular areas. Also just because an estate agent flatters you with the best valuation it doesn’t mean they will be able to sell it for that price!
Key times for selling your property are Spring (Feb/Mar) and Autumn (Sep/Oct). This is when traditionally demand outstrips supply and therefore prices are usually at their most buoyant.
3) Get rid of any unpleasant smells!
In a recent survey carried out by website A Passion For Homes bad smells were voted the biggest single turn off when viewing a home by nearly one in three of us (32 per cent) of us.
You may think your loveable pooch smells lovely or the cat litter tray in the kitchen isn’t really that much of a big deal, but the chances are any prospective buyer won’t! Obviously it goes without saying that any pets should be removed from the house during viewing (it’s amazing how many children are scared of animals, especially big dogs) but there should also be air fresheners in place to neutralise any pet smells.
Similarly, rubbish should be removed from the bins and kitchen pots and pans cleaned and cleared away so there aren’t any lingering food smells.
“Smells are the biggest negative factor we have to deal with, and on a regular basis,” says Michelle Wilden, from JDG Estate Agents covering Lancaster and Morecambe. “People’s noses are sensitive.”
If it’s summer time, then maybe open the windows to get some fresh air in. If it’s too cold outside then maybe get some coffee brewing or, even, bread baking!
4) Reduce ‘personality’ by decluttering/repainting
It’s become a bit of a cliché about painting your house magnolia but it really does work (which is probably why so many show homes have neutral décor). Although buyers like to see the potential in a home in terms of what each room can be used for they also need to view the property as a ‘blank canvas’.
Bright colours, like pinks, oranges and reds are often quite personal and buyers will be put off if they think they have to redecorate the whole house as soon as they move in whereas most people can live with neutral colours.
Getting rid of ornaments and photos completely is probably not a good idea (buyers like to see a bit of personality in a home) but reducing the number is wise, especially if they make the room look overly cluttered and smaller. Obviously it goes without saying that clothes need to be tidied away – apart from smells there is really nothing much more off putting than climbing over a teenager’s dirty underpants!
Large pieces of furniture should also go into storage as this will make rooms feel much bigger while coats and shoes need to be cleared out of the hallway in order to give more space (hallways are traditionally quite small in UK homes anyway) and to prevent any potential trip hazards – never a good start to a viewing.
5. Let the agent do their job!
You might think you are being helpful, but it is nearly always best to let the estate agent show the buyer around. Not only are they more experienced, research shows that buyers of properties can often be put off if the owners are present. This is because the presence of sellers makes it difficult for prospective buyers to take their time or talk openly with their partner and agent.
If possible, make sure all family members are out of the house – perhaps walking the dog if you have one. However failing that, make sure they are up and dressed! One of the big turns offs is for buyers arriving at your house and finding they can’t go into a particular room because there is someone asleep.
If you absolutely must show your property yourself, then decide beforehand what order you will show the rooms – either best room first or best room last. Guide viewers around the property once and invite them to take a view of the house by themselves at the end. Don’t burble away giving them too much detail about the property (especially if much of it is in the brochure), but be responsive if they ask you any specific questions.
And if after all that you still haven’t sold your property, what do you do?
There is absolutely no shame in changing tack if things don’t work out. Start by looking at the property dispassionately and perhaps asking a good friend honestly whether they would buy the property for that price if seeing it for the first time.
Then maybe go back to your agent after three months and ask them what they think the issue may be. Is it just lack of potential customers, in which case it may be worth considering other agents or trying to market it privately?
Or is there something more fundamental that is putting people off like traffic noise or neighbours playing their music loudly – in which case you either need to consider viewings at different times of day or talking to your neighbours when you have viewings planned. Most people are quite understanding if you remain polite and explain the reasons to them.
“We are finding that setting up an open day for sellers as part of property marketing is becoming increasingly popular. Many prospective purchasers find it difficult to tie themselves to fixed viewing times so prefer more flexible arrangements from an “open house”.
“On the other hand, sellers aren’t always able to make themselves available for viewings at relatively short notice so sometimes like the idea of concentrating on specific dates when we can show visitors around.”