Buying your dream home is like meeting ‘the one’. You just know it’s right at first glance. Of course, you had an idea of your ideal match before that feet-sweeping first encounter…but would your heart have skipped a beat if your true love had spinach caught in their teeth? Possibly not!
The same is true when buying a home. You arrive for the viewing armed with background information – photographs and EPC ratings – but nothing quite compares to seeing it with your own eyes…filter free!
So how can you create that jaw-dropping, pulse-racing, fabulous first impression? Ok, so for an unforgettable first date with destiny, you’ll want to create the perfect backdrop. Just because it’s winter, doesn’t mean your garden can’t dazzle. Wash those windows and keep the door handle fingerprint-free. Whether the approach to your home is a yard, a drive, or a garden ensure it’s up to scratch. Make sure the grass has had a recent hair-cut and trim back any overgrown shrubs (remember: it’s the difference between designer stubble and a Brian Blessed beard).
Toys and clutter should be removed and kept well out of sight and replace any barren containers with some fresh, colourful winter planters for some instant springtime cheer (these can be picked up relatively cheaply from most local supermarkets). We love the smiling yellow faces of winter pansies and perfectly pink hardy cyclamen.
Your relationship with your home may have run its natural course, but its one true love is still out there waiting in the wings!
What you hang on your walls can play a crucial role in securing that sale. Cluttered walls can detract attention from what matters most, such as square footage. Likewise, empty, barren walls can leave a house feeling cold, boring and forgettable.
So, how do you give your house personality without over-personalising? Keep it simple and let the room be your guide. Got a cluttered boot room? Why not hang a map documenting your travels on the wall? Not only does it keep to a theme, but it also provides a conversation starter to help break the ice with your potential buyers.
Pique your viewer’s hunger for your home with a classic café scene on the kitchen wall such as Vincent van Gogh’s Café Terrace at Night. Create a calm and serene ambience in a bedroom with canvases that promote peace and relaxation. Tranquil seascapes, soothing forests and soft abstracts can work a dream.
Why not help the sale along with a spot of subliminal messaging; word art is on trend and can help convey the mood you wish to create in your home. Think carved wooden lettering and smooth calligraphy. Will you offer an inspirational phrase, or stick to a one-word lifestyle prompt?
Keep the frames smart and clean, ensure the artwork sits symmetrically on the wall and make sure your choices complement the flow of the room rather than stealing the show.
We’ve all heard the old tale that baking bread or cakes before a viewing will help bag that sale, but how true is that? Time for some myth busting.
Smell is a very personal matter, and complex scents can actually work against you during a viewing by confusing your viewer as their brains work to figure out the mixture of ingredients at work. So keep it simple!
Throw out that dusty bowl of pot pourri, and then take the bin bag out too! One thing all researchers can agree on is that rotting food produce is a definite turn off. While a deep clean will improve the freshness of your home, avoid over use of bleach-based products that can leave an over-powering chemical signature.
Light, neutral smells help to sell, and while you may be tempted to fill the house with air freshener to chase out the whiff of last night’s garlic bread, hang fire.
A clean smell doesn’t necessarily mean a perfumed smell. Aim instead for familiar, crisp notes. Perhaps invest in some essential oils (always read the instructions) and choose single-note scents such as lemon, basil, vanilla or cedar. A good quality scented candle can add homely warmth and an olfactory treat to boot.
Strangely enough, the best way to get closer to that sale may be to distance yourself from your home. Quite simply put, those Lilliput Lane ornaments you’ve lovingly collected over the years may be the icing on the cake for your taste, but to a potential buyer they could paint a lifestyle that just isn’t them.
Remember, the purpose of a viewing is to make them see your home as a home that could potentially be theirs. Taste and style are very individual things.
As owners we tend to filter out the clutter, but every chintzy family heirloom on the mantlepiece, every secret Santa scented candle you’ve accumulated on the sideboard, and every homemade pasta-painting proudly plastered on the wall, marks your house out as, well, YOUR home. And no one else’s.
So what is the remedy? Finding a happy medium of course! Stark, sterile and empty rooms don’t win buyers either, so a full scale stripping down isn’t the answer.
Borrow a friend for an afternoon and ask them to cast an impartial glance about the place, they can tell you which items help to create a homely feel and which are a shade too ‘you’.
Light and airy. You’ve heard that a million times, right? Lighting can certainly play a huge role in helping you to sell your home, but there is no one clear-cut solution for every room, so take the time to get to know how the natural light falls in each room. Let us try to shed some light on this for you. Think about the functionality of the spaces in your home. Which areas benefit from low lighting and where do you need to dazzle? It’s worth doing this at different times of day, noting how and when the light changes in order to ‘dress’ your lighting appropriately for that all-important viewing. Once you’ve captured the mood, you can begin to capture the sale.
Fun-sized rooms can benefit from flooding one wall with light in order to create an elongated sense of depth perception. You may wish to invest in a powerful spot light for this one. Bed-side lamps and floor lighting in bedrooms can create a subdued and cosy feel. Ambient lighting works best in living areas like your lounge and sitting room, whereas clustered task lighting in your kitchen will help focus wattage in a functional capacity…after all no one should be wielding knives in the dark!
Bathroom lighting is often overlooked, but place yourself a cut above the rest by using a layering effect to create a luxurious and indulgent feeling. Ever thought of low-voltage LED lighting? Not only will you create a romantic setting but you’ll also save on energy. If you’re clued up on electrics, then in-shower lighting can be playful and show-stopping. Better safe than sorry on this one though – if in doubt call in the professionals.
Winter can be a dreary and protracted season in England, and those barren borders and spiny leafless trees don’t really create the warm, welcoming sentiment that you want for your prospective buyers. We’ve already mentioned purchasing a few tubs of colour to add some ready-made cheer to your front door step, but what on earth can be done for the rest of the garden? Well, not a lot…immediately. You can however, prepare your garden for when the weather warms up, and new year is the perfect time to tidy and strip back any overgrowth, dead leaves and other natural detritus.
Make sure any borders are tidy and weed-free, remove any dead branches from trees, and if you have a greenhouse, now is the time to clean it down thoroughly. A dirty roof can give off an air of disrepair and put off potential buyers (no one looks to inherit problems and additional jobs with a house purchase). However, a sparkling clean glasshouse filled with boxes of leek, onion and lettuce seedlings tells the tale of organic, clean living and self-sufficiency that can be quite appealing to the modern home-seeker.
New year, new you! Not only will clearing out the junk that has accumulated over the course of 2017 help you snatch that sale, it will also be a positive and cleansing experience in its own right.
Remember – your viewer wants to picture themselves in your home, and they can’t do that when traces of your lifestyle tattoo every room.
Candles can create a beautiful glow and add a touch of colour and scent to a room, but ask yourself: how many candles do I really need? Does it liven up an otherwise dull space, or does it simply add clutter to a chaotic mantelpiece?
Time to clear out the junk. If it hasn’t been used in the last six months, it’s time to get rid. If you can’t think of three practical reasons to keep it; bin it. Or better still, bag up all those knick-knacks, novelty tea towels and unlit candles and head down to your local charity shop.
Facebook is awash with selling sites, so why not seek out a local page and advertise that antique table that has been sitting in the corner of the room for months. Perhaps with that gone, you’ll actually start filing away old paperwork!
Take a look around the room you’re sitting in right now. Odds are you can spot at least three items that no longer serve any use. If you know you’re a bit of a hoarder and struggle to say that final goodbye then why not invest in some good quality storage boxes and hide away the chintz in the garage or attic whilst your home is ‘live’ for viewings. Chances are, you won’t have missed them when you finally stumble upon the box moving house.
OK, so now the decluttering is complete we can tackle the important tasks. Tidy, clean and repair!
First off, try tackling the big house tidy using a ‘zoning’ technique. By chunking down and assigning tasks to different family members you can cut down on time whilst saving your sanity. Also, consider making a few purchases to help ensure the big tidy sticks. Additional coat hangers will help eradicate the urge to sling a jumper over the back of a chair in the evening. Picking up folders for paperwork and baskets to keep bathroom lotions and potions tidy is a cheap and easy fix.
Presentation is key when selling your home, so it’s time to clean like you’ve never cleaned before. Do try to complete the deep clean at a time when you’re not expecting viewings, as a nose full of bleach or ammonia is a definite turn off. A spritz of polish on the other hand, can convey that clean image that your viewer will be looking to buy into.
While you don’t want baskets full of stinky laundry lurking in the corner of the bathroom, racks of drying washing will also be detrimental to your cause. Perhaps indulge in a trip to the launderette during ‘viewing season’ in order to ease your list of chores and ensure your house stays visually appealing.
Mildew on shower curtains is a big no-no, so buy a fresh one for pictures and viewings. Also, be sure to look out for the ‘hidden grime’. If your oven and fridge are inbuilt appliances that will be sold with the house it’s acceptable to expect prospective owners will want to sneak a peek into them. Don’t let burnt on or mouldy food be a sale blocker! If you’re not prepared to get down and dirty with the Mr Muscle, check your local directory for a company who will.
Finally, slap a splash of paint on any tired looking walls. Change any dud lightbulbs and crack open the WD-40 for those squeaky door hinges.
Accessorising your home for sale is exactly the same as accessorising yourself before that big night out. You want to look fantastic, without looking like you’ve gone to any trouble at all. After all, natural beauty is rarely as natural as it seems at first glance.
Contrary to popular belief, hard furnishings alone are not the key to creating ‘the feel’ in a room. That comes from the subtle finishing touches.
And in no way are we contradicting ourselves here, point 7 stands; dump the junk. Rather than re-filling your home with useless clutter, show some discerning taste and select one or two items that can really upscale a room.
Scandinavian style is en vogue this season, so why not make storage part of your décor? The concept behind this is making that storage basket you’ve hidden away in your wardrobe part of the art work of your room. Designer clothing racks are perfect for this.
Grouping is a big wow factor in interior design so why not accessorise in 3s? Odd numbers look more natural from three colours to three textures, fabrics or items. So how about a tasteful photo frame, lamp and vase on that sideboard?
Tall lamps can help fill up vacant space in those high-ceilinged hallways, and lamps in entranceways always add that appealing soft glow.
Keep it simple in the kitchen with a colourful bowl of fruit but avoid cluttering up the work surfaces.
Cushions and throws are so inviting in the bedroom, but do make sure they are plumped and crease-free for viewings.
Remember: accessorising is all about accenting the style of your home, so keep it simple and keep it relevant.
Or, for our purposes, your home is a stage. The all-important setting for the new owners to act out the day to day soap opera of their lives. So why not ham it up a little for the photographs and viewings?
Furniture groupings is one place to start. Take a look around your living room. How much of your furniture is pushed up against the walls? It’s a common misconception that in by doing this we will create the illusion of more space. However, repositioning sofas and chairs into sociable groupings will make the room much more appealing and create a new flow.
On a furniture note, is there a chair that you bought for the bedroom that could work better in the lounge? Playing about with positioning could play a key role in selling your home. A well placed table by the window on the landing could encourage visitors to take a moment to capture that stunning garden view that they may otherwise have missed.
Many of us have that ‘Monica’s cupboard’ lurking somewhere in the home. A graveyard for all the items that we can’t quite bring ourselves to throw out or fix. Well once you’ve followed tip #7 and decluttered, why not transform the space into a unique feature room? Some well-placed fairy lights, hanging fabrics and a yoga mat can give you a room of relaxation and contemplation. Or bag yourself a Billy bookcase from Ikea and gather up all the errant books. Throw in that chair we mentioned earlier and hey presto – you’ve got a library.
Finally, be sure to say it with flowers. Don’t bother spending a fortune on fancy vases and rigid bouquets. If you’re lucky enough to have some colour in your garden at the time of sale, bring some bloomage inside. Get creative! A couple of fern clippings bundled with string to a stalk or two of scented powder blue buddleia (available from all derelict building plots) can freshen up any magnolia hallway. No flowers to hand? A warming sprig of winter berries and a handful of ivy tastefully arranged in a bowl with some pinecones can add personality to any corner unit.
So now that we’ve shared our top ten tips to get your house ready to sell, which will you be trying first?
If you would like to discuss how we could help you further you can email firstname.lastname@example.org, chat to us via Facebook or call us on 07921 073406.