Preparing your house for sale

Prospective buyers fall for a house because they can imagine themselves living there. As they walk around the rooms and garden, they calculate if a certain piece of their furniture will fit into a space, the kind of pictures they would like on the walls and where the sunlight falls throughout the day.

Fix any major structural work on roofs, ceilings, walls and drains before you put the house on the market. Unblock and re-open any over painted sash windows. Blocked sash windows are one of the main reasons a buyer rejects a property. If buyers want to acquire a wreck, they say so from the outset. Most want a property they can move into and live comfortably.

The next step is to de-personalise your home. Owner history has market value for historic houses, not for an average home. Remove all the family photographs and those large objects that you treat as family heirlooms – spinning wheels, samovars, old gramophones – as well as children’s toys and small pieces of furniture. That said, ornamental items can enhance your home if they are not personal and in good taste, for example works of art or a Tower Aquarium. Do not let these detract from your home however.

Remove DVDs, books and bookcases and put all the objects into storage if possible. Storage is a commodity so make sure you compare and negotiate for the best offer. When this is done, the feeling of space will be apparent immediately and you will be able to see where minor repairs, cleaning and decoration needs to be done. Fix all minor repairs on windows, skirting boards, door handles and the like.

Clean every surface, window, wall and kitchen and bathroom appliances thoroughly. Dirt is the first thing a buyer notices. If the job is too great, hire professional cleaners. The costs for these services are not great but a good cleaning job makes a massive difference.

Include carpets and built-in cupboards in the professional clean. Buyers may not open your stand alone wardrobe but they always examine built-in cupboards. Take time to tidy out bathroom and kitchen cupboards, make sure that the cupboard doors do not stick and that all fingerprints are wiped away.

Once everything is clean you will be able to see what re-painting needs to be done both inside and outside. If you need to repaint the whole house, stick to neutral colours. Beige walls can be extremely boring to live in over the long term, but they provide the best shop window to sell your property. Neutral colours also enhance that important feeling of space in every room.

If you have a front and/or back garden or driveway, walk outside and take a detailed and critical look at the exterior aspect of your house. This is the first thing that a prospective buyer will see and first impressions are the most important. Make sure that lawns are trimmed regularly and remove all weeds from the sides or pathways and driveways and in between any paving stones.

Although it hurts, say goodbye to any pets’ graves in the back garden. Remove all memorial objects of stone or wood, except for growing plants. Remember that even the most animal-loving buyer prefers his own pets.

If your house does not have a mature garden, buy some seasonal flowers to add colour to the outside. Colour always adds value to a house exterior. If you only have a bare surface parking space at the front of the house, cheer up the front aspect with window boxes, hanging baskets and large potted shrubs.

The front door of your property must be clean, bright and well-lit. Check that the batteries or mains power supply to the doorbell work. Replace any damaged locks, handles and other door furniture so that the buyer will feel both welcomed and secure.

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