Getting the best price for your home
Flowers will help brighten up the entrance to your home.
By Mary O'connor
Thinking about selling your house? If so, you will be eager to attract as many viewers as possible and get the highest price, especially in these uncertain economic times.
When you walk into someone’s home for the first time you form an instant impression of the place. Your eyes take in the decor and layout, you sense if the atmosphere is welcoming or cold. In a few short seconds, you mentally give the house your seal of approval or the thumbs down.
First impressions count. Potential buyers may have a whole series of properties to view and will make comparisons as they go along. If you have accentuated your home’s finer points and have it and your garden in tip top condition you will guarantee that whoever comes to view it will walk away with a positive impression. Equally if your house is not up to standard would-be clients may walk away without giving it as much as a second glance.
The location and size of the property will be an important deciding factor for a buyer - some houses sell instantly while others take that bit longer to be snapped up.
Make a good impression
There are many ways in which you can make your house more attractive. Many people re-decorate their home in a bid to upgrade it before putting it on the market. However, while this type of expenditure will increase the value of your home to a certain extent and make it more saleable you may not recoup all you have spent.
Taste is a very individual thing too and your choice of carpet, curtains or wallpaper may be very different from what a potential buyer has in mind. Most people who buy a house like to impose their own personality and style on the new property. Most also spend money on their new home.
Instead of spending a fortune doing up your home concentrate on sprucing up the existing features and ensure that everything is clean and tidy.
First impressions are important and even the tiniest details help create a smart image. Start with the entrance to your property. Make sure the path or driveway is tidy and the lawn is mowed. If it is summertime, flowers will brighten up the place. Ensure the front door is painted and if you have a brass knocker and house number be sure to have it gleaming.
If it is a family home retain that homely feeling. While it helps to have the place looking well do not get too carried away with the scrubbing and polishing. Your aim is to have the house tidy rather than sterile. It should be reasonably free of clutter. Avoid dwarfing rooms with heavy furniture, you want people to see the rooms not the mahogany pieces you inherited. Light is important, too. Try to make the house as bright as possible. Open the curtains or blinds during the day and use good artificial lighting by night. You do not want people to think it is gloomy or dreary.
If possible keep pets out of sight on viewing days. Not everyone is an animal lover. Some people are terrified of dogs, others will tolerate them so long as they do not shed all over their velvet trousers or try to snatch the last chocolate biscuit from the tea tray.
No matter how rushed you are in the morning do not leave the remainer of your breakfast on the table for potential buyers to view. This is a real no-no. So, too is an overflowing sink, discarded clothes in the bedroom (these make people feel they are intruding), untidy presses or wardrobes (buyers usually look inside), and dirty windows.
Remember, potential purchasers will look at your home with a critical eye and will not see it in the sentimental light in which you do. They will also notice the small things that escape your attention - the loose door handle, the window which does not quite close, the dripping tap or damp patch on the children’s bedroom wall.
Dressing up your home
Here are some tips to help you market your home like a professional:-
1. Price it right. Make sure you are asking the correct price for the property. Do not be swayed by sentimentality and think it is worth its weight in gold. The cold, unbiased eye of the prospective buyer will quickly decide if it is overpriced and if so, it could be on the market for ages.
2. Spruce it up. Ensure your house is appealing from the outside. This means removing any litter, oiling squeaking gates and sweeping the path. Ensure the skirting boards and walls are clean, surfaces are dusted and that all the carpets or floors are spotless. Kitchens and bathrooms attract attention so make sure both are gleaming. Any soap wrappers, empty shampoo bottles or leaking toothpaste tubes should be removed from the bathroom. Give taps a scrub and polish any mirrors, too.
The kitchen is where people tend to spend most of their time and it should be warm and cheery. If it looks drab and jaded take it in hand. Buy a new tablecloth, put fresh flowers in a vase or hang a new picture. Even a lively tea towel or some cheery fridge magnets will give it a touch of colour. Dishes should not be left in the sink and make sure the bin is clean and the taps do not drip. If you have a kitchen clock make sure it gives the correct time.
3. Avoid last-minute camouflage jobs, such as painting over cracks or damp areas. This will usually warn a prospective purchaser that there is something wrong with the house.
4. Give a flavour. Many experts say that the aroma of freshly-baked bread or roasting coffee beans creates a welcoming ambience. If the property is on the market in winter it may be a good idea to light a fire or ensure the heating is on when someone calls. If it is summer make sure the house gives off an airy feel by opening windows.
5. Light up. Let in as much light as you can. If your home looks dark it may be a good idea to get lighter curtains or buy stronger bulbs to brighten it up a bit.
6. Get rid of clutter. Go through each room and eliminate anything that does not serve a purpose. Get rid of old magazines, re-arrange furniture if it improves the look of the room, ensure garments are hung up and that wardrobes or presses will not disgorge their contents if someone opens the doors. Hot presses should be clean and tidy too, with clothes piled neatly. Pack unnecessary stuff into boxes and store it out of sight in the shed, garage or attic.
7. Keep your pet out of the house. Not all prospective buyers love pets so if you have an adorable cat or dog take it for a walk or at least ensure it is out of sight.
8. Make yourself scarce. If possible be out of the house when an estate agent is showing people round. They may feel uncomfortable if you are there scanning their faces for likely interest or disapproval.
9. Ensure fittings work. If these are included in the sale it is essential they work and are clean. This includes ovens, fridges, curtains and carpets. Replace blown light bulbs and wash and press curtains.
10. Do not oversell. If you are present when viewers call resist the temptation to overpower them with conversation or information about your home. Let them take a second tour unaccompanied. People like to feel they are not being pushed into a decision.