When you need to sell your house, for whatever reason, it’s an emotional rollercoaster. Especially if the property doesn’t seem to be gaining any interest from the public.
A study by Web-Blinds surveyed people looking to purchase properties, to find the key reasons they didn’t. Outside of pricing, location or the market, some of the top reasons were the state of the house (hygiene, clutter and mess) as well as the condition of the garden and damage to the property. The upside is, these are easily remedied problems, and we’ve got the advice that will help you prepare your house for a quick sale.
Step 1: Adapt Your Mindset.
Giving up a family home isn’t easy. All of your emotional ties and memories are linked to this property, which is completely normal. But this is why the first step is changing your mindset and preparing yourself for the changes you’ll need to make to help potential buyers see themselves living in the property – not you. Something you might consider decorative, or personal, might appear as clutter to someone else. Emotionally detaching yourself from the property, seeing it as a house not a home, will make it easier to do the work needed for selling.
Step 2: Professional Level Cleaning
Whilst we’re not saying you need to pay a cleaner to get your property ready to sell, we do recommend you act as though you’re being paid to clean it. It’s the largest chore on this list, but it’s also the most important. From carpets to curtains, floors, ceilings, walls, your home needs to look and smell like new, even if it isn’t.
It makes sense to do this first for several reasons: the first is the most obvious, people walking into a freshly clean home are going to spend more time appreciating it. They’re not going to be looking for the nearest door to get away from a bad smell or strange stains. Second, it’s a lot easier to maintain a clean property. If you’ve got several potential buyers visiting, you don’t need to worry about cleaning every time. A quick hoover before they arrive, and a wipe down of surfaces, and you’re good to go. And the third is potentially the least obvious. Once you’ve sold your property, you have to leave it in a state suitable for your buyers. The legal term is ‘Vacant Possession.’ If, however, you leave rubbish and mess that your buyers were not expecting, they can recover the costs of removals from you through the small claims court.
At the very least, it’s just polite to have a clean house when people are visiting. So make this top on your priority list once you’re ready to sell.
Step 3: Declutter.
As I said before, what you consider clutter and what someone else might consider clutter might be different: but the result will be the same. If the potential buyers only see your home, they’ll struggle to see the property as their home.
It’s quite cathartic, decluttering, and there are several ways you can organise your things which will help when it comes to moving out of your property as well. If you’re struggling to think of what needs to go, the Becoming Minimalist website has some really great, creative ideas to get you started. But the rule of thumb should be: all surfaces and floors clear. Serious buyers will look in all potential storage spaces, so hiding mess away isn’t going to be enough. Cupboards should only be 75% full, and only the things you need should be visible. Some sellers rent short-term storage units for items they can’t bring themselves to let go of.
We’re not asking you to throw away your belongings, or to devalue any of the things you own. You’re creating a clean slate for your potential buyers, a welcoming, well-ordered place for them to live, because that’s what they’re looking for.
Step 4: Replace or Repair Broken Things.
All those DIY projects you’ve started? They need to be finished. Those lights which don’t work? They need to be fixed. That flooring which doesn’t meet the walls? You get where I’m going with this. Every time a potential buyer sees something that needs fixing, they’re mentally docking that from the asking price.
Check behind your doors for dents in the plaster, make sure your windows aren’t leaking, and repair and damage your property might have sustained from general wear and tear. A small cost to fix something now could save you a lot of money with regards to the sale. Even buyers looking for a ‘property with potential’, they’re going to want to know you’ve cared for and cared about this property. Otherwise, why should they?
Step 5: A Fresh Coat of Paint.
Other than decluttering, this can be the most emotionally fraught experience of selling your property, because a fresh coat of paint can wipe away your presence from a property.
You’re creating a blank canvas for them, and that’s the hard part. This property isn’t for you anymore, so you have to take yourself out of it. Avoid ‘trendy’ colours, or designs that suit you and your personality. Neutral tones can make your home seem lighter and bigger, whilst also making it easier for potential buyers to imagine what they could do with the property.
Step 6: Think About Your Lighting.
It can be difficult to show off the potential of a property if the inside is plunged into darkness. Natural lighting is a game changer. If you can pull back the blinds, with clean and clear windows, it can brighten a room with very little effort. But don’t panic if you’re in a basement flat, or the window backs onto a dark wall, it’s really easy to create lighting effects which enhance the space rather than leave it in the dark.
Floor and table lamps can create light in darker corners, whilst still keeping the cosy, homely feeling of your property. With LED Lightbulbs, you can choose a Warm or Cold tone. The colder tones are often brighter, and more reflect a more natural light. Swapping out your old bulbs for new ones is a small investment which can make a massive change.
Step 7: Create Spaces.
It’s been shown that buyers subconsciously, and automatically, assume your standard of living will become their standard of living if they take on your property. So you need to create a space which is comfortable and practical, whilst still allowing them to view themselves in it. It sounds like a lot of work, but I promise it isn’t.
Walk through your property and image you’re a buyer: where can they stand? Can they move around with ease? If the flow of the building works, you’ll find potential buyers moving around the space more often, imagining themselves living in it. Thinking about where their furniture could go.
If, however, the furniture feels too big for the space, or there’s only one place to stand, they might feel cramped. And they won’t stay to appreciate everything your property has to offer. Moving furniture to suit a space, rather than is currently functioning, can make a big difference to how a potential buyer views the property.
Adding mirrors can make a space look larger and brighter too, and the occasional potted plant (remember what we said about clutter) can give a neutral personality to the property. Welcoming, but not overwhelming.
And of course, you need to maintain it.
Step 8: Roadside Appeal
More often than not, potential buyers will drive past your property before deciding whether to visit. Making sure the front of your house is well presented is key. Keep up with the maintenance of your front garden, check the condition of your windows and doors, and give your viewers a reason to knock on your door to see inside.
Step 9: Maintain It.
All of this hard work, all the changes you’ve made, the improvements, the love and care, will be for nothing if you don’t maintain your property. Don’t wait for someone to book to do a quick spruce. Keep the clutter gone, the property well-presented because it’ll help your property stand out amongst the rest.
Step 10: Choose the right Estate Agent.
Get your property valued as soon as possible, by an experienced Estate Agent. Make sure they’re familiar with properties similar to yours and in your local area. Find out how long the average sale takes, and what prices were achieved. Consider the difference between their initial asking price, and the price the properties actually sold for.
You’re looking for an agent who provides a great service, is proactive and knowledgeable. Don’t assume an Estate Agent who promises the highest price for your home is the right choice. It’s tempting, but over pricing your property is only going to hurt the sale of your home in the long run, and a good Estate Agent will talk you through your options before you settle on a price.
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