HOW TO GET YOUR HOUSE READY FOR SALE

forsale

It’s that time of year when many people think about putting their house on the market for sale, and once that decision has been made, and you have psychologically divorced yourself from the property, you want to sell it quickly and move on.

Homes are our biggest asset and naturally we want to sell it for a good price, but in today’s market you cannot leave this to chance. Getting the buyer to connect with your home, to imagine how it will suit their family and lifestyle, is about creating the right environment and preparing your home for viewers, or “staging” as it’s called. It will not only ensure your property is sold faster, but can potentially add to its value.

First impressions, whether good or bad, always make an impact and are lasting. When it comes to selling a property, you need to do whatever you can to make sure those first impressions are good.

Many buyers want to move in without making changes, so you need to allow for this. More often than not, buyers find it difficult to see the potential in a property – your role is to make an effort to show your home at its best, to take away any doubt or obstacles and to allow them to imagine themselves living in your house.

To optimise your chances of selling in today’s difficult market, follow these simple tips:

1. It is not your house any more
Firstly, step back and tell yourself that this is not your home anymore. It’s time to move on and you need to free yourself from any attachment and emotions to the property. It’s time to be objective!

2. Be very critical
Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes and walk around your home as if you are seeing it for the first time. Make a list of what you, as a buyer, would notice and then take action to repair or replace those things. The devil is in the details, and the sale of your home could be hampered by simple little things that you've stopped paying attention to.

3. Curb appeal and outside space
Stand outside your home and compare it to your neighbours' properties. If you do this and it makes you feel slightly mortified, it's likely that you've already failed to impress your potential buyers. If a buyer won't get out of the agent's car because they don’t like the exterior of your home, you'll never get them inside. Make them want to come in.

  • Mow the lawn
  • Clean out gutters
  • Give window frames some fresh paint
  • Fix uneven and broken paving slabs
  • Clear away children's toys
  • Prune hedges and shrubs
  • Clear weeds
  • Keep the pavements cleared
  • Make sure visitors can clearly read your house number
  • Plant some cheerful flowers
  • Add planted pots and hanging baskets
  • Tidy away any rubbish
  • Clean the patio and furniture of lichen and dirt
  • If need be, buy inexpensive patio furniture, potted plants and install some outdoor lighting
  • If you have a pool make sure it is clean and inviting

4. Entrance
As stated already, it is essential to create a good first impression so give the front door a new coat of paint in a tasteful colour. Update the outside lights and put potted plants on either side of the door. Once through the door, the entrance hall creates the next impression. Make sure it is welcoming by painting it in a neutral colour, removing any bulky furniture, upgrading the lighting and if you feel you need colour add it with accessories and a rug.

paint 5. A fresh lick of paint
Paint colour is such a personal choice and potential buyers are likely to want to customise it themselves. If you have dark rich colours or busy wallpaper then repaint in neutral tones. Giving your walls a fresh lick of neutral paint will make your home seem lighter and bigger and it will enable the viewers to more easily imagine how they would adapt the rooms to their needs. It will also be easier for them to move in and use the rooms immediately than if the walls were still bright purple or lime green. Keep the décor simple to help buyers imagine themselves in your space, so get rid of any art or other décor that might turn off people with different tastes.

6. Fix and repair

  • Cracks in the walls - then touch up with paint or repaint altogether where necessary (in a neutral colour)
  • Broken door knobs
  • Cracked tiles
  • Torn or threadbare carpets
  • Leaking/dripping taps
  • Doors that don't close properly
  • Kitchen drawers that jam
  • Replace burned-out light bulbs
  • A new shower curtain and bathmat (again, choose neutral shades)
  • Replace cushion covers, bedspreads and curtains that are worn or have garish colours and patterns

7. Declutter and depersonalise
Your buyers don't want to see the lovely life you've made for yourself in your beautiful home; they want to imagine the lovely life they could make for themselves in their beautiful potential new home. Don't allow anything to clutter that vision. You want buyers to focus on how lovely your space is, not how messy it looks. Buyers also want to be able to envision themselves in your home, so remove anything overly personal.

  • Remove family photos and your children’s artwork on the fridge
  • Clear the pile of shoes and coats from the entrance
  • Tidy away stacks of papers
  • Take everything off kitchen counters
  • Get rid of clutter - books, CDs, DVDs, ornaments, knick-knacks, kitchen tools and appliances
  • Put essential items used daily in a small box that can be easily stored in a cupboard when not in use
  • Remove posters on your children's bedroom walls
  • Be radical - remove some furniture to create space (as a general guide, there should be enough space for people to move around the room unhindered, and enough furniture to convey the room's purpose)
  • Rent some storage space if necessary

8. Spring clean
Clean everything until it sparkles - this will make the place more appealing. Buyers expect to see an immaculate home with no signs of dirt. We're not talking about a quick once-over, we’re talking a serious spring clean as if your life depended on it !

paint

  • Get rid of lime scale
  • Clean and repair tile grout
  • Wax wooden floors
  • Hang up fresh towels
  • Dust on top of all those out of reach places
  • Polish your appliances
  • Wash windows inside and out
  • Pick up clothes from the floor
  • Dust the skirting boards
  • Dust all fixtures and furniture
  • Vacuum everywhere
  • Get rid of cobwebs
  • Polish taps and mirrors
  • Clean out the refrigerator and deodorise it
  • Defrost the freezer
  • Scrub the oven clean
  • Clean paths, walls and patios with a pressure washer

This may sound excessive, but prospective buyers are notoriously judgmental.

9. Pets
You no doubt love your pets and they are part of your family but unfortunately buyers may not feel the same. Try and keep them out the way or, better still, remove pets altogether when you have buyers viewing your property. Remove all pet bowls, baskets and, most important, litter trays. This will help to prevent one of three things happening:

    pets


  • Pet lovers will pay more attention to your pet and less attention to your home

  • Pet haters will feel uncomfortable, completely on their guard and rush round your property leaving as soon as they can

  • If you have a buyer that is allergic to animals, a reaction will put them off your home.


10. Let there be light
Open up all the windows and shutters to let in natural light and add floor or table lamps to areas that are dim. A bright, cheery room looks bigger and more inviting. Lots of natural light usually tops the list of things people are looking for in a home. To give the impression of having plenty of bright, airy space :

  • Replace dim light bulbs with higher wattage
  • Don't just pull open those heavy, dark curtains - pull them down altogether
  • In areas of your house that are particularly dark, install some extra light fixtures
  • Repaint darker rooms with light-coloured and light-reflecting paint
  • Prune any trees or vines that are casting shadows inside the house
  • Wall mirrors make a room look much bigger and lighter
  • Clean windows inside and out
  • Ensure that you have lamps on in any dark corners
  • Putting a soft lamp in the bathroom can create a warm glow
  • The wrong lighting can make your home feel dark and drab so install brighter modern lights to make your home seem sunny, cheerful and up to date

11. Tidy up – even inside cupboards and wardrobes
Buyers are very nosy and will shamelessly open your cupboards and drawers and take a look inside – possibly making unfair judgements on your ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach to tidiness that may reflect your attitude to the maintenance of your property. Take any doubts away from their minds and organise your storage, giving the message that you take good care of the rest of the house as well. Also, storage space is a huge selling point, and if your cupboards are stuffed to the brim, buyers will think you don’t have enough of it.

  • Declutter - remove extra items you don’t need immediately (you can store them away until you move)
  • Invest in some boxes, dividers and other solutions that will help you make your stuff look more organised
  • Line up spice jars and containers
  • Neatly stack dishes
  • Line up shoes
  • Organise and tidy up clothing

12. Remove smells
Get rid of odours - particularly those from cigarette smoke, mildew and pets. Open the windows and air out your house. Simply masking bad smells with a perfumed air freshener won't do the trick.

pets

13. Update kitchen and bathrooms
These are the rooms that sell a house. The kitchen is the most valuable room per square metre and is what often makes the difference when buyers are unsure. Bathrooms that are clean, modern and appealing will also swing the balance in your favour.

Kitchen
  • If your budget will stretch to it, consider putting new door and drawer fronts on your kitchen cabinetry - this is much cheaper than installing a new kitchen but often as effective
  • Upgrade kitchen worktops
  • Add new stylish cupboard handles are cheap and easy to fit, and can bring your kitchen up to date
  • Declutter the surfaces and just leave a bowl of fruit out - uncluttered surfaces give the illusion of space in a small kitchen
  • Take out any bulky appliances
  • Consider upgrading the plumbing fixtures and white goods
  • Ensure the kitchen is spotless
  • Make sure none of your appliances are running when viewers are being shown around - the buzz of the washing machine or whir of the dishwasher isn't the most inviting sound

Bathroom

  • Hide away any personal items, toiletries, lotions and potions
  • Clean every nook and cranny
  • Make sure the mirror and tiles are sparkling
  • Bath and shower fittings should be spotlessly clean
  • Open windows to clear away any excess moisture
  • Consider replacing bath and shower sealants if mould has accumulated
  • A small potted plant can bring colour and life to a bland looking bathroom
  • Put out clean, fresh and matching towels
  • Clear away children’s bath toys

14. Remove/replace things you are taking
If there are any fixtures and fittings or built-in appliances you are taking with you, then remove them now. If a buyer never sees it, they won't want it but once you tell a buyer they can't have an item, you risk blowing the deal. Pack away those items and replace them if necessary.

15. Show buyers how to use each room
Give each room a purpose. That spare room you’ve been using as an office/guest room/dumping ground won’t help sell your home unless you show buyers how they can use it themselves. So pick a use – office or guest room – and then clearly stage the space to showcase that purpose. It is extremely important that each room appears as it is intended to be used.

16. Keep it clean and tidy
Get into the habit of leaving the house in its best condition, particularly if you are out at work all day, just in case there is a last minute viewing.

17. Be accommodating
Fit in with your estate agent and the buyers as much as you can - it might take multiple viewings and can be wearing but it has to be done at a time convenient to the buyer not just the vendor. Before everyone leaves, offer some refreshments as buyers have often been viewing properties all day long.

18. Get out !
Now that you have done all the hard work in preparing your home, make sure you are not in the way and leave the viewing to your estate agent – they know what they are doing and are more likely to sell it for you if you are not there. No offence, but prospective buyers don't really want you hovering over them while they're trying to nose around in your wardrobe and pass judgment on your crockery. It's a bit off-putting. If they feel awkward, they're much less likely to linger in your home and get the full impact of how great it is and how they'd very much like to buy it.


Even with a small budget, it’s amazing what you can do to lift your property and bear in mind that today’s property market is currently very much a buyer’s market with competition running very high. However, please keep in mind that in France, while all the above will help your property sell faster, you will be unlikely to recoup the full value of your costs – but a small investment in time and money could save you months, or even years, on the property market waiting for a buyer.