Kerb appeal. Don’t focus all your efforts on the inside; remember that first impressions are created as prospective buyers approach the building. Most buyers drive-by before booking an appointment to view inside. Tidy the garden, trim hedges, weed flower beds, plant a few conspicuous shrubs so that it looks well-kept and, above all, cut the lawn to project a well-cared for first impression.
Declutter. Ask a friend or relative or better still, your estate agent, to advise on what to hide or throw, as their eyes aren't clouded by familiarity. We're not just talking inanimate possessions, children and dogs don't sell properties, so whenever possible make them scarce.
Don't stuff everything into cupboards...you will never find anything and lots of potential buyer’s open cupboards to get a sense of the storage space available.
Move out spare furniture from the bedroom…and cover the bed with an attractive bedspread. But don't turn rooms into a barren space as they can look surprisingly small when empty. It's also harder for a buyer to imagine what the house will look like furnished.
Definition. Make sure each room is kitted out for the purpose it is intended for - so bedrooms should look like bedrooms, not store rooms. Defining each room or area allows buyers to imagine a lifestyle, so make sure it’s clear where they can comfortably entertain, dine, study or play.
Create an appealing social environment. It's not always about decluttering; sometimes the opposite is required, installing new furniture to give prospective buyers an impression of how they would live in the property. Dress your rooms with carefully chosen accessories and use mirrors to maximise light and space.
Do basic repairs. Go through each room and do any minor jobs you can see would improve the finish at little expense, such as touching up paintwork, filling cracks, re-grouting, straightening cupboard doors, replacing/polishing door handles. Clean the windows. Reseal around the bath, sinks and shower and remove any mould. It's important to complete all running repairs - mend dripping taps, cracked panes of glass and peeling wallpaper.
Clean… then clean again and don’t forget the windows. Make sure everywhere is spotless, particularly bathrooms, and kitchens. Subtle fragrance diffusers etc., can also help create the right cologne for your home.
When to redecorate? If the property is being sold for development or as a shell, there is no point tidying or painting. But if it is a potential family home that is looking a little shabby, then clean thoroughly and air the house - especially when there are pets - paint tired areas and replace carpet where necessary. Bright, neutral, clean and uncluttered properties are most appealing to the broadest range of prospective buyers.
Don't spend money on expensive improvements…new carpets throughout, new bathroom or kitchen are not always required. Don't redecorate any room using strong colours - and don't redecorate one room splendidly and leave the rest looking tired. Make sure your property is more palatable to a broader range of buyers without having to drop the price.
Don't overdo it. Too colourful is bad - but so is too bland. Don’t personalise your property too much, thinking that everyone will share your taste as they often won’t. Try to tone down the excesses where possible.
Don't apologise for your home's appearance to viewers...you have lived there happily, so there is no reason to make excuses. Leave your agent to handle any objections from potential buyers.
The price. There’s only one reason why a property does not sell in anything but the depths of a recession, and that is price, price is the catalyst or inhibitor behind any sale. Brace yourself for a dose of the truth, it is far better to know where you stand to plan the next step. Overprice and you may get some footfall but no offers. To price a house correctly, ask your agent for honest, realistic figures, then apply whatever margin to the asking price in excess of this figure, depending on market conditions and how urgent your sale is.
Finally...be patient, don't panic and don't give up. Sometimes it takes longer than others to attract the right buyer - persistence will pay off.