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Preparing to put your home on the property market

Money.co.uk’s top tips to ensure your home is as attractive as possible to would-be buyers.

Estate agent outside house for sale speaking to family

Selling your home is undoubtedly a stressful process. But with some simple, clever tips and a bit of good planning, you can maximise interest in your property while ensuring your house sale goes as smoothly as possible.

Get your home looking its best

Make the first impression count

The first thing that a potential buyer will see if they come to view your property is how it looks from the outside.

Look at your house from the street. How does the exterior compare to neighbouring homes? 

If the answer is “poorly”, then you’ll have some work to do. 

Your home may be a virtual palace inside, but if the first thing a potential buyer sees is a filthy driveway with cracked paving, it will impact the rest of the viewing. 

Try and ensure that your driveway in front of your house – or the corridor outside your flat – is as clean as possible.

If you have a front garden, you may want to spend some time trimming hedges and eradicating weeds. It might sound like a lot of work for an area a potential buyer is not likely to spend too much time in, but a well-maintained garden helps make the right first impression.

Declutter your home

Getting rid of junk and clearing your hallways is essential for your prospective buyers to focus on the space, rather than the items in each room.

Making the property look clean and minimalist can help make spaces look bigger. It will give anyone viewing the property or looking at photos the best opportunity to see the space for what it is.

Getting rid of junk and clutter can also help the seller in several ways too. It can help you to focus on what makes a property home, ready for your next step.

It will also help you view your home differently and understand what prospective buyers are looking for.

Ditch the personal touches

This might be difficult to hear, but ‘de-personalising’ your house can go a long way towards helping a potential buyer picture themselves living there and making it their home.

Getting potential buyers into this position will be harder if there are family photos and personal items with sentimental importance dotted throughout the property.

It’s worth thinking about packing away things like children’s drawings, holiday souvenirs, sports trophies and photos. This way the home will look lived-in, but without your personal stamp on it. 

Make it bright

There’s nothing better to put off buyers than a dark and dingy home, so making your home bright can instantly make it look more attractive. This is especially true if you’re trying to take photos of your interiors in preparation for a listing.

Lighter rooms always look more spacious, so ensure that there is enough light throughout the home, even if this means buying some small table lamps to brighten up areas that do not receive good natural light.

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Tips to help viewings go smoothly

Does it smell?

Foul smells can be incredibly off-putting to people walking around the house, so ensure that you’ve cleaned the property well ahead of any viewings.

For some, this may also mean keeping your pets elsewhere when opening your home to visitors. While we all love our pets, some prospective buyers may be put off by the smell of cats or dogs.

This might sound like a bit of a cliché, but the smell of freshly baked bread or cookies straight out of the oven can do wonders for making the potential buyers imagine themselves living in your home.

You could also think about getting flowers to place in larger rooms, or cultivating a single scent throughout the whole property. Just make sure the smell is not too overpowering. 

Get the ‘flow’ right

In estate agent jargon, the ‘flow’ of a viewing can be a very important way to ensure potential buyers get the best impression of your home.

The ‘flow’ is simply the way in which the prospective buyers will move through your home when being shown around. To get the best results, make sure their route through your home sustains their interest and is not interrupted by physical obstacles.

A good, experienced estate agent should be able to help you get this right. 

Neutral colours are key

While you may have your own tastes when it comes to interior decor, ensuring your walls are painted a neutral – perhaps even bland colour – can help your property look bigger.

It’s relatively easy to find lighter, neutral coloured paints from large DIY stores for a very reasonable price. 

The other benefit of doing this is that you’ll be creating a blank canvas that a potential buyer can use to imagine a new life in your home.

Hunt for ideas from the professionals

If you’re interested in finding different ways to present your home to viewers, why not visit some show homes or home builder shows to get some ideas?

These can be useful exercises, as the examples you’ll see will show you how much furniture you’ll need to define the use of each room. You may also get handy tips for different colour schemes.

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Putting your home on the market

Actually getting your home on the market can be a stressful experience, and you’ll have plenty of questions.  

  • What should your asking price be?

  • How do you decide which estate agent to use?

  • How much commission should you be willing to pay?

Here are some tips that should help put you in the right direction.

Do your research

This sounds obvious but you would be amazed how many sellers, especially those embarking on their first sale, simply do not have enough information about the state of the property market where they live. 

While you may have come across newspaper stories about national house prices going up or down, in reality these headline figures are unlikely to help you understand how much your property could be worth. 

You may want to use sites like Zoopla to help you get an idea of how much similar properties in your area have been sold for over the last few months.

If you know that a nearby property has been sold but you do not know how much it went for by doing an online search, you can check HM Land Registry, a government body that records information about property ownership across the country. 

You may have to pay a small fee to get your hands on the document you’re looking for, but this is unlikely to be more than £3 or so.  

The more information you have about property value in your area, the better equipped you’ll be when trying to work out your asking price.

Picking the right estate agent

Estate agents don't come cheap, so it's worth shopping around to get the best deal. Get a number of valuations plus information on fees and terms from a few different agencies, rather than settling on the first agent you speak to.

Deciding which estate agent to use can be a minefield, with all of them working hard to get you to ‘instruct’ them to manage the sale of your property.

In many cases, simply asking an estate agent the top price they think your property could sell for is only likely to get them to pluck a figure from the air that they think you want to hear.

Instead, ask them what price would generate the most interest in your property. You can then ask them how they reached that figure when coming up with a valuation.

Check what the agents charge

Some agents ask you to sign up for a fixed term, meaning you won't be able to switch agencies if you are unhappy with them. It may be better to sign up for a short term so you can move to another agent if your current one isn't up to scratch.

You should also compare the valuations from several different agents. It's not always worth going with the agent who offers the highest valuation.

When you've decided on the estate agent that's right for you, make sure to get the fees and conditions of the contract down in writing so you know exactly where you stand.

Get an Energy Performance Certificate

While HIPs (Home Information Packs) are no longer a legal requirement, Energy Performance Certificates are, so you'll need to have yours ready before putting your house on the market..

You need to get a registered energy assessor to do this for you – you can find one via the Landmarks website.

Do not forget to factor in costs and tax

When thinking about how much to sell your home for, do not forget that you’ll need to factor in the agent’s commission, as well as a range of other costs involved in the sale of your home.

It’s likely you’ll need to factor in your solicitor’s fees and early mortgage repayment fees.

For full details read our ‘How to sell you house’ guide.

If you’re looking to buy another property with the proceeds from your house sale, you may also need to consider stamp duty, depending on when you’re thinking of putting your home on the market.

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Note: There is currently no stamp duty to pay on residential property purchases under £500,000. This will change on 1 April 2021.

If you're a first time buyer or looking to move house or remortgage, we can help you find the best mortgage deal to suit your needs.