The Dos and Don’ts of prepping your house for selling

How not to present a room

You’ve decided to sell your house. You’ve found an estate agent and now the next step is to market the property. The estate agent says she’ll be round tomorrow to get some measurements and take photographs that will be used to entice viewers in and hopefully find a buyer.

Do you:

  1. Embark on a frantic round of tidying, cleaning and general housework, while also casting an eye over the garden and deciding to weed and mow the lawn?
  2. Look around and think “nah, this is good enough”

If your answer was 1, well done, you are on the right track to helping create the best impression possible of your home for buyers.

If your answer was 2, well – is this (look, just look at image 2) your house? Or is it this (particularly image 5)? If so, bad news, you’re doing it all wrong.

And if you want the proof that appearance really is everything when it comes to selling a property, a recent study from Anglian Home Improvements analysed exactly what viewers were looking at when they were shown round a property.

Using eye-tracking technology, the researchers were able to see what potential buyers lingered most on, what items within a property disrupted their natural eye movements and noted what they looked at during their viewing.

The results are interesting but simply confirm what most estate agents and seasoned house sellers already know – the cleaner and tidier your property is and the less clutter around, the better chance you have of impressing viewers and securing a good price.

Remove those distracting piles of junk

According to the Anglian study, 24 percent of all eye movements lingered on any sign of untidiness within a room with a viewer’s eye line constantly disrupted by clutter in a room. Potential buyers spent more time examining piles of junk than they did focusing on things that were broken or in need of attention (4 percent).

And it’s not just the interior that grabs attention. The Anglian study showed that 32 percent of men (compared to 26 percent of women) they followed spent more time looking at the exterior of the property, including the structure and garden area. Meanwhile, 17 percent of participants spent most time looking out of the windows and noticing neighbouring properties.

Obviously not everyone who comes to see your house or flat will be wearing eye-tracking technology. In fact, probably no one will because that would be weird.

Making the best first impression

But the results of that Anglian study and years of hard-won experience from estate agents do demonstrate that there are certain things you should and should not do if you want to sell fast. So, here’s the Best Value Conveyancing guide to prepping your home perfectly for sale. And remember when your hard (house)work has paid off and you’ve found a buyer, call Best Value Conveyancing’s sales team on 08000 387 007 for an instant, no-obligation conveyancing quote.

Get the cleaning products out pronto

Do: Clean up. Tidying away mess is only one crucial part. A sparkling kitchen and bathroom, with a place for everything and everything in its place, won’t simply look good, they’ll smell good, too. Get mould remover on to bath and shower sealants, and replace them if the mould won’t shift.

Don’t: Pile everything up in a corner or stick in the bottom of a cupboard. Don’t forget, viewers are nosy and will be looking in them. Get to the pound shop and buy some big plastic tubs that you can stick things that have no natural home into – we’re thinking books, DVDs, kids’ toys, single shoes, that pile of correspondence you keep meaning to shred. All those appliances and tools on your kitchen counters you have no space for? Get them in a box. Stack the boxes in a cupboard or hide them in the car when viewings are on if you have no room.

Do: Vacuum, sweep and wash floors. Dust furniture and wipe down window sills. Just as with the clean kitchen, that will help the place smell a whole lot better. Buy some cheap scented tea lights and get them going in every room in the run-up to a viewer calling.

Don’t: Leave a basket of dirty washing in the bedroom or kitchen. Just don’t. We can’t emphasise this enough. In fact, don’t leave any clothes, clean or otherwise, out for anyone to see.

Do: Wash the windows inside and out. The viewer’s first impression starts with the exterior so in that vein, cut the grass and hedges, weed the flower beds and sweep the paths. Wipe down the front door.

Don’t: Leave any DIY unfinished. That dud bulb has to be replaced and leaky taps fixed; ditto those – squeaky doors – get the WD40 on to them pronto.

Do: De-clutter. Sure, you love clowns, but imagine your viewers have just been to see It. Not exactly the warm welcome they’re expecting, is it? The idea here is to create a blank canvas that the viewer can imagine him or herself living in. To that end, tone down how many photographs you have on show, too.

Don’t: Forget the loft and garage, if you have both. Those are not the places to store your clutter, either. Both need to look as impressive, clean and tidy as the rest of the house.

Do: Maximise the light in every room. Open curtains and blinds. Put side lamps on to provide a soothing ambience.

Don’t: Let your friendly but 40kg, slobbering boxer dog greet viewers at the door excitedly. Not everyone loves a dog. Or a cat. Or rabbit or chinchillas. You get the deal. Remove the family pets from the home during viewings. You’ll thank us later.


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