Selling your home is about accentuating the best features of the house and minimising the less appealing features. Ideally, you want a look that is fresh and welcoming – but not taste specific – so that you can appeal to the widest audience possible. Buyers with varying tastes need to feel like they could make the home their own if they purchased it – they need to be able to visualise themselves living there. As such you are selling a lifestyle – a glimpse of what their life would be like living in your home!
Most people struggle to visualise how a space might look painted in a different colour or without the clutter. The majority of people will appreciate a home that is welcoming, functional and organised – no matter what their style tastes.
It is worth tapping into the knowledge of your friendly estate agent. You are paying them to sell your property – so use their expertise. They will be able to advise you on the likely profile of your buyer – be it a young family, career focused professionals, or an older couple. For instance, there is no point in dressing the box bedroom as a nursery if your estate agent advises that young families are not the target audience (due to the lack of good schools, or a steep child-unfriendly garden) instead it might be better styled as a home office.
If you have a distinctive decorating style you may need to pare it back. This doesn’t mean that your house needs to be devoid of colour – but keep colour schemes simple and use an on-trend neutral. Use punches of colour sparingly – and preferably not on the walls but instead in accessories.
It is also important to edit your possessions. You want the home to look lived in – but not so full of your personal items that potential buyers struggle to see themselves living there. This goes for furniture too. Over-sized furniture will make a space look small. For example, a sofa and chair that are in proportion to the size of the lounge will work better than a huge corner sofa that overwhelms the space and doesn’t allow for movement around the room.
Don’t forget about curb appeal. First impressions do count! Buyers have been known not to enter a property based on the external appearance. A shabby exterior might also suggest that the interior has not been well cared for – hinting at maintenance issues or worse. Make sure any flower beds are neat and tidy, lawns mowed, and that the path to the front door is clear and obstacle free. Repair any broken or clogged gutters and book the window cleaner before any viewings – they can often tackle the gutters as well as the windows.
The entrance hall needs to be as clutter free as possible – with space to place shoes, coats and so on – if possible out of sight but, if not, make it feel organised. If this is your main storage area for coats then for viewings remove as many coats / shoes as possible – leaving just a few of each.
Flooring throughout needs to be in good condition. If you have any badly stained carpets then consider renting a carpet cleaner or getting the professionals in. For really badly stained areas it may even be worth putting in new carpet. You don’t want to lose a sale or have thousands knocked off the asking price for the sake of £500 on a new carpet.
Fix any obvious scuff marks, nail holes or paint cracks – and any peeling wallpaper. A fresh coat of paint in a neutral colour will freshen things up at little cost.
Bathrooms should be immaculate. Make-sure everything is cleaned & polished, towels hung tidily and put toilet seats down. If you have lots of cosmetics and bottles then try and clear this away before viewings or coral in pretty baskets so that the space doesn’t look cluttered. Empty the bin and make sure there are no empty toilet rolls lying around.
In the kitchen make sure that worksurfaces are as clear as possible. Get as much as possible put away or into storage temporarily if there is no space in the kitchen cupboards. Fix any handles and doors. You might not notice it anymore – but potential buyers will spot a lopsided drawer or cupboard that doesn’t close properly. Make sure that your hob and sink are sparkling – as well as any other appliances that might be included in the sale. Be mindful of what you cook before viewings – a strong curry or fish stew may not be to everyone’s tastes – and it can be off-putting if the smell from dinner the night before is still hanging in the air.
Any damp or mouldy smells are an absolute no – as buyers will associate musty smells with damage or disrepair. Be mindful of pet smells too – both the actual animals (give them a bath) and any furniture, carpets, pet bedding or litter boxes that may be emitting ‘eau de animal’. Whilst on pets – if you have a dog, make sure you pooper scoop the garden! Any stinky sports equipment or shoes should also be moved out before viewings. There are lots of air fresheners, candles and plug-ins which help to eliminate nasty niffs – but don’t go overboard and have anything too strong. It is equally unappealing to be hit by a different potent perfumed smell in each room you enter!
It can be very difficult to detach yourself from your home – especially if you have lived there for years – but staging a house to sell is all about strategic editing and depersonalising – rather than decorating and personalising. You can do the latter to your heart’s content in your new home!
If you are no longer living in the home – or it is an empty or newly developed property then similar principles apply. De-cluttering should not be an issue – so here it will be about adding furniture to each space so that buyers have a sense of the function or purpose of each room. If you are adding a bed – then make sure that you dress it. Add simple touches such as cushions and throws to sofas and chairs. Mirrors over fireplaces are a great idea – and adding some simple artwork in key spaces will help a space to feel lived in. Place a vase of flowers on a dining or kitchen table – and consider setting the table with place settings, cutlery and crockery – this is a great way to add some colour & interest and make the space feel lived in. If the house has been unoccupied for awhile then make sure you (or ask the estate agent) get the heating on before a viewing in the winter if possible – potential buyers will not hang around in a freezing space. In the summer make sure windows have been opened so that air can circulate and the space will feel fresher.