I quite often get into "advice giving overload" conversations whenever I hear that friends are putting their properties on the market. It can be so easy to just get your place valued, be happy with the price you're putting it on the market for, and then sit back and wait for the buyers to rush in.
Honestly in my little but eye-opening experience in selling, it's really not that easy. Buyers are few and far between, don't listen to what estate agents say.
As we noticed when we finally sold our flat for £70K above the asking price after 2 years of living there, styling your home (or at the very least decluttering and cleaning heavily) can see a difference of anything up to £30,000 and more in the offers you receive.
A flat on the same road as the one we sold, which was the exact same size but tired, with messy beds in photos and toys flung everywhere, sat on the market for 3 months longer and it was asking £30,000 less than we were.
I conducted most of our viewings myself, and made sure to prepare thoroughly (took so much time!) before every person walked through the door, so today I thought I would share my styling tips if you're thinking about putting your property up for sale.
Seriously, don't put anything on the market it if you don't have the time to work on all of these things as it could be the difference of thousands of pounds to you... you want to achieve the best price possible for the home you're giving up so wait it out until you're ready to put work (and money) in to make your property sparkle.
And just before I begin... you're not selling a property, you're selling a lifestyle.
This is ultimately what buyers want to see. Can they visualise themselves chilling, entertaining, cooking, commuting... and so on... in your place? If they can't, they'll move on after first flicking through those all important estate agent photos.
Implement these tips before getting your property photos done + well before you conduct any viewings:
1. Give every wall (especially the white ones) a lick of paint
Seeing black lines across walls from where you've dragged furniture, the washing basket or a bike through the house doesn't really instil an "easy-to-maintain" home and let's face it, a home that requires little upkeep in a never-ending dream that everyone wants including your buyer. Painting your home is laborious but the results are instantaneous and impactful. Keep to neutral colours so buyers can visualise their own decoration across the house. If you really can't be bothered, then at least just re-paint your hallway. You will be surprised just how much it freshens up your property and those important first impressions are everything.
2. Tidy up the garden space if you have any
In this flat we sold, we had a laughable 1sqm patio that for the majority of the 2 years we lived there had cigarette butts thrown in from flats upstairs, it was overgrown with weeds and so damp. Did we tell our buyers that? Hell no. We cleaned the patio like hell, put some strong weed killer down, replanted a lil tree (which I loved and wanted to take with me haha) and even bought a patio table and chair set to make it look like we sat out there all the time – note, you can also hire or borrow sets. It really is worth the while. We even painted our back stable door and bought and fitted a new cat flap. Read our patio garden makeover post here for ideas.
3. Deep clean your kitchen units and any fitted appliances inside out
I conducted most of the viewings (including the one we sold on) myself and couldn't believe the level of detail some viewers go in to when they're viewing/buying... some opened kitchen cupboard doors and drawers which I can understand as it's a big aspect of buying a house – whether you like the kitchen, but one person even opened our wardrobes ! which weren't a fixed part of the property. Crazy. It made me so thankful that I cleaned all kitchen units and drawers from top to bottom. That little build up of kick marks or dropped food on the cupboard doors might not be noticeable to you, but it will be to the buyers. They want to see that you've taken good care over the property they're about to invest in or live in, and a true reflection of this is whether you've hidden crap in cupboards or not. Clear them out, I say.
4. Make sure your taps absolutely sparkle
We live in Brighton, a hard water area which means that there's ALWAYS limescale drops all over taps in bathrooms and kitchen sinks. Before every viewing I used a special stainless steel tap cleaner which temporarily took away the drops after a morning getting ready/washing up cups. It gave our bathroom that feeling of "yep, this is hotel-like clean and looks brand new!" even though our bathroom suite was at least 4-5 years old. The taps absolutely sparkled. I got a bit obsessed with it and did the cooker, door knobs and kitchen handles every viewing too. Sweaty work!
5. Get rid of mildew / mould on bathroom tiles
Our flat was a basement flat which meant it was really hard to control air flow, leaving us with a lot of mildew and (not serious) damp to contend with. It meant that on the weeks I couldn't be bothered to clean our shower (sorry, don't judge, life gets in the way) we saw a slight build up of mildew in the grout between some of our bathroom tiles. To a buyer, anything that looks like damp rings alarm bells. I did some research and found some mould/mildew spray that you simply spray on and after an hour it's pretty much gone or at least loosened. It was great for the mildew caught between the cracks of bathroom sealant. Another bathroom tip if your grout is way past it... get a grout pen. It literally is just that – a pen that you draw on the line of your grout to freshen up it's colour. There, mildew gone forever. Or at least... until we sold!
6. It's cliche but it works – buy fresh flowers for every viewing
I'm not the type to buy flowers often as I usually feel like it's a thing people can do when they have a healthier disposable income, but for selling our flat and after hearing all this "bake fresh bread" and "have fresh flowers everywhere" nonsense I wanted to put it to the test. We didn't have any house plants in this flat as it was basement level, so getting fresh flowers did actually give it a bit more of an appeal. For the sake of about £2-3 per bunch in Aldi, I think it's well worth splashing on a few bunches as it just gives buyers that sense of the property being a loved home (not to mention it tells them you've always been a happy couple in the place even if it was you that bought them for yourself or you live on your own!)
7. Spray a gorgeous scent just before you hand over the keys for another viewing
I'd like to do more blog posts around scents for the home as it's such an incredibly important part of creating a serene vibe. When you're conducting house viewings particularly in evenings, wait to cook dinner after the potential buyers have left so that any curry smells are kept to a minimum and give the place they enter the house a really good spray with the best, long lasting air freshener you can find. This is particularly important if your house is prone to the odd damp patch as buyers are using their five senses to suss out what's wrong with your house. I usually go for the Febreeze Vanilla scent as it masks smells and is a really inoffensive odour. Works a treat and lasts quite a while!
8. Declutter like your life depends on it
This really should be number one on my list. If you're going to do anything, make this first. Get rid of crowded hallways, books that are piled on the side, old letter piles, coats draped over your staircase etc. It will give your home a much more spacious vibe and getting your things organised well in advance of viewings will also make your move day a bit more of a breeze to pack for. Top tip! If there's anything you want to keep but it's not really the type of thing buyers would want to see – store it in your car. This worked wonders for things like our pile of guitars that clogged up behind our bedroom door, and our dehumidifier which would ring alarm bells.
9. Tidy away your cables
This is an important tip for when you're taking photos for your property ad in particular. Tangled cables under a bed or near a TV look unsightly and would tell me as a buyer that there may not be sufficient or effective placement of sockets through the house – which can lead to extra expense for buyers and could show limited flexibility with furniture layout. My suggestion is to unplug and hide away all your electric cables as best as you can – not forgetting neatening up the cables on your kettle and toaster (and give them a wipe down if needed too).
10. Strategically place some lifestyle props
Last but by no means least, you want to strike the right balance between a home that's been cleaned up specially for selling and a home that's loved and lived in which is easily achieved by placing props like homes and interior magazines on the foot stool or sofa, slippers (your nice pair, not the tatty pair :P) by the bed, wood by the fire and a nice clean white fluffy towel or dressing gown in the bathroom. This will really help the buyer understand whether the property is a place they can see themselves settling in which will work towards securing that offer.
Those are my tips for styling and preparing your home ready for sale. Best of luck if you're about to embark on this exciting phase – and don't be disheartened if there's any tears along the way. Once you've done your best to get things looking as best as you can, it's out of your control. We had spells of happy tears and sad tears during the month we sold our flat. It was an actual emotional rollercoaster. But remember, whatever will be will be.
Hope this post has helped!
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