If you’re trying to sell your property, you could do worse than follow these basic tips.
I found some tips online the other day about selling your property in the current market.
The piece was written for sellers abroad – particularly Spain – but there’s some good general advice for anyone who’s trying to move house but can’t shift their property at present.
Few matters are more important to buyers than a ‘feeling’ of space, says the author. This is as important to someone seeking a studio flat as a person wanting a luxury villa.
He advises that you look at photographs in interiors magazines and notice that what they all have in common is a lack of clutter. Surfaces are generally clear and furniture is minimal.
To duplicate this look, remove everything that in any way reduces the ‘sensation’ of space, he says, including possessions that are dear to you. "Few people will ever buy your property because of your belongings," he points out, so be ruthless – put your stuff in storage if you have to.
"Make sure your property is filled with as much natural light as possible. A lack of plentiful natural light strikes deeply into the subconscious, always producing a negative sensation.
"Get rid of any heavy velvet or net curtains, however inconvenient this may be in the short term. Make sure that windows are clean, heavy curtains are pulled well back and that any nearby vegetation or trees do not darken your house."
In this house, because of our 2ft thick walls and tiny windows, we use extra-long curtain poles, cream curtains, and tie them well back from the windows. As we are not overlooked, we also only use curtains for warmth, only winter and only in the living room, and even here, in summer, they come down altogether. In London, where we lived almost on the street, we used stick-on film on the windows to blank out vision in the lower half, and cream Roman blinds – no clutter, and infinitely variable light.
Deliver the dream
"A few well placed bottles of champagne, a full wine rack and some yachting/golfing magazines can provide a high life ‘feel’ to a room," says the author. "Fresh fruit and flowers always add colour and the smell of freshly ground coffee can be effective."
The magazine and wine idea is a good one – its something we use when we’re ‘staging’ interiors for photography but I wouldn’t have thought of it for selling a house.
"Few things are more off-putting than properties that are unclean, messy, greasy or smell of cigarette smoke, damp or pungent incense sticks," the author advises. "Keep your house well aired and centralise all extraneous mess in one discreet area preferably away from the main body of the accommodation."
Oh Lord, why don’t more people do this? It is so basic, and yet I think people can’t see their own filth when they’re living in it. Smokers are particularly guilty, as they simply can’t smell their own smoke, nor realise what a brown, hideous tinge everything they own has about it. I vividly remember moving into a flat in Kilburn and the brown water that ran down the walls as I washed the previous owner’s nicotine off everything.
"Prune trees and shrubs, clear your garden of weeds and undergrowth, power wash terraced areas and paths and make sure that your garden looks easy to maintain. Also mend broken gates, fix dripping taps and ‘sticking’ doors or windows.
"Repaint scuffed areas of paintwork to provide an impression of care – if a buyer sees small areas of neglect he will suspect that your house has more profound problems."
These tips should be tattooed on the eyelids of everyone who’s trying to sell in France at the moment – most of their properties look awful, and a potential buyer couldn’t help but be put off the second they turn into the courtyard. Some have broken-down old cars in the driveway, most have moss and weeds everywhere, and few Brits seem to spruce up their paintwork and plant geraniums in windowboxes, the way the French do.
"If you have a viewing, make sure that your property is warm."
Well doh, you would think. But people are stupid…
"Few properties are more difficult to sell than unlived in, empty shells. ‘Dress’ your property so that it feels like a permanent home and not somewhere that is temporary or deserted. Always retain furniture in your property together with pictures, curtains, towels and the minimum obvious objects to give the impression that someone is living there all the time."
This is obviously written for holiday home owners, so its relevance to UK sellers would be minimal, but lived-in vs tidy is a hard balance to strike. Too many Brits regard their property as a house and not a home, and paint and furnish it to suit the next buyer, stripping it of all individuality.
"The impression of a buyer is not restricted to just within the boundaries of your property. Rubbish piling up close by, a badly potholed road, excessive weeds on pavements and discarded junk all provide a negative impression.
"It may hurt to clean up the mess of others (or do the work of the town hall!) but it is essential to ensure that the immediate environment of your home looks good and not neglected. So, get out there and fill in the worst of the potholes and regularly get rid of any junk and rubbish!"
Easy enough to do here – my local commune would be delighted if we slung a couple of buckets of gravel into the pothole that regularly opens up in our driveway (there’s a source underneath), but harder to do in the UK, I would have thought.
"If your property is identical to many others close by, try to give it some aesthetic individuality such as painting it a different colour, having window boxes of colourful flowers, adding wooden shutters or perhaps some pretty water feature in the garden beside an imaginative shaded seating area. Make sure your property stands out and has the capacity to leave a positive and distinctive memory."
Our Dutch friend Gerry was always a big fan of ‘My pink half of the drainnpipe’ but until he came to Britain he didn’t know it was a REAL phenomenon. In London, our half of the drainpipe was black, if memory serves. It can be hard, though, to make a mid-terraced house look individual when it’s surrounded by others exactly like it.
"Always give the impression to any potential buyers that you are perfectly relaxed and content. Never appear nervous, never over-sell and never mention anything derogatory about your home."
Well LOL. The last time I sat in someone’s house to ask about selling her property, she gave me a massive list of everything that was wrong with it. Admittedly, I wasn’t buying, and she may have been unguarded, but her near-hatred of her own home certainly came over in the conversation.
"Have a plausible reason for wanting to sell and make sure that reason has nothing to do with anything that could be considered a negative about your property (‘we would like an en-suite’, ‘need a bigger garage’, ‘the garden takes too much effort’, ‘we hardly use the the pool’ etc)."
I know only two people who’ve cracked this – one who sold because her husband died and another who sold because she had become too disabled to continue living in the property. Both are reasons that any buyer would understand and sympathise with. If we ever sell this place, we’ll probably just say we’re moving closer to family.
For more tips, visit the link above.