So, you’ve decided to put your property on the market. It’s a major step, with many factors to consider. For whatever reason you are selling, whether you are upsizing, downsizing, moving away, selling the family home after a bereavement or an investor exiting the market, the goal of all vendors is to maximise the value of their prized asset.
There are many marketing tools utilised by estate agents to sell properties. The way in which the property is presented for sale however is very much down to the vendor and is often a key factor in the success of a sale. Estate agents will often advise their clients to start thinking about their property more as a commercial entity and begin looking at it from a buyer’s perspective. There are numerous tips and tricks that can be employed to greatly enhance the value of a property and provide the very best first impression to potential buyers. ‘Kerb appeal’ is critical. With online ads now the main source of leads, the photographs of your property are your opportunity to attract as many potential clients as possible!
You may have heard of the concept of hygge, the Danish art of cosying up – it’s about creating an appealing lifestyle, relaxing with friends, and enjoying life's quieter pleasures. The Danes believe in creating a soothing home space with soft lighting and cosiness using blankets, side lamps and candles. In many ways this is what you are trying to achieve in preparing your property for sale. You want to create a desirable ambiance that allows possible purchasers to imagine the appeal of living in that space.
The following is a checklist of some of the main areas we advise our clients to address when preparing their home for sale.
The look of your property from the exterior can really sway buyers. We advise clients, if they are not keen gardeners, to engage a professional gardener prior to their photography and viewings. Neat and tidy hedges and beds, power washed driveways and a splash of colour in flower beds and pots can greatly enhance first impressions. A freshly painted hall door, some hanging baskets and colourful planters at the entrance, are just some of the many simple touches that can be added. Likewise in apartments, clean and tidy communal areas give potential buyers peace of mind that the development is well maintained. Properties often require a fresh coat of paint, gutters cleaned, and facias and soffits repaired prior to sale.
It may seem like stating the obvious but getting professional cleaners in or undertaking a thorough spring clean oneself is highly recommended. Prospective viewers should never see cobwebs, crumbs, paw marks or dust when viewing a property. Before every viewing the property should be left in pristine condition. The smell of coffee brewing or freshly baked bread were used in the past to hide unpleasant odours from potential purchasers. Nowadays we have the benefit of scented candles, diffusers and air fresheners which ensure that a property smells fresh. Sometimes vendors will plan to hold viewings while they are away on holidays so that they will only need to do one big clean before they leave especially where there is a large family and a pet in the house.
To assist potential purchasers visualising themselves living at your property, you really need to show off the space to its greatest potential. One way to do this is by keeping clutter to a minimum. You should plan to get rid of any large pieces of excess furniture that you will not be taking with you to the next property or placing some of these items in garages or sheds during the viewing period. Countertops and surfaces should be kept as clear as possible. Personal photos and ornaments should be stored away. Cleaning products in kitchens and bathrooms should be hidden from view. Coats, bags, and shoes belonging to the occupants should be stored away in cloakrooms and wardrobes. Any decluttering preparation done in advance will greatly help in the long run for when the property is being vacated. This is an ideal time for a spring clean as viewers very often will look inside kitchen cabinets and wardrobes so having these de-cluttered will also enhance the overall impression of the availability of storage at the property.
Repairs and maintenance
We all have those little jobs around the house that need doing but that we have put on the long finger. Now is the time to get these done. A broken fence, a light fitting that won’t work, a cracked tile, re-grouting or just paintwork that needs a fresh coat. Anything that will assist in bringing the property to walk-in condition will add value. If potential bidders detect that money will need to be spent on repairs and redecorating, this may affect what they are prepared to offer. In addition, a surveyor may pick up on some of these items in the survey and look for a discount on the price agreed. Vendors may perceive outlays pre-selling as money wasted however, in our experience, every penny spent adds value and will ultimately lead to a better result.
The main upgrades that add value to a property are new kitchens and bathrooms and good BER ratings. Re-doing the kitchen might be a stretch if you are about to sell but perhaps consider re-spraying or painting kitchen units or changing countertops, upgrades that might not break the bank but could give a slightly dated kitchen a much-needed face- lift. Equally bathrooms are not cheap to re-do but tiles could be changed, or re-grouted and modern shower fittings will add a more modern finish. The BER has become all important with informed buyers looking for properties that will not be too costly to heat. There are a range of grants available towards upgrades to insulation through the SEAI. Bringing a property up a BER band will also add considerable value and attract a greater number of potential purchasers. Green mortgages are available for properties with an A or B rating, providing preferential rates, so if you can bring a property from a C to a B rating, this makes it very much more attractive at a time when interest rates are an issue.
Dressing the property
Dressing or staging can be done in a small way by the vendors themselves or by engaging a professional stager which will add value to an unfurnished or down at heel property. Again, there are tricks that can make a property so much more appealing. Pops of colour will stand out in photos. Add cushions and throws to sofas and beds to provide texture and cosiness. One large picture or mirror on a wall can be a focal point in a room. So too will a vase of fresh flowers or a plant positioned strategically. High street stores now sell an array of good quality artificial plants and flower arrangements which work well as they do not need watering or changing during the viewing period. Sticking to a colour scheme in individual rooms is another trick stagers use, so matching pictures to cushions and throws for example gives a room a softer and more appealing look. We usually advise clients to dress beds with plain white or neutral linens, with at least two pillows on singles and four on doubles, to add cushions for luxury and volume and to drape a throw at the base of the bed to emulate the 5-star hotel look!
Due to our climate here in Ireland, a key consideration for many buyers is the amount of sunlight that a property gets throughout the day. While you cannot change the aspect of the property, there are certain tricks you can utilise to enhance the amount of light coming in. Firstly, make sure all windows are spotlessly clean prior to viewings. Dark rooms should be painted in lighter, warmer hues. Consider roman blinds instead of heavy drapes. Remove net curtains, pelmets or venetian blinds to allow as much light in as possible. You can also remove window coverings altogether if it works around the opening. Add large mirrors strategically to enhance the light and space. Lighter coloured furniture and rugs will also help create a brighter space. Add good artificial lighting options to brighten the property and soft lighting to create atmosphere. Position good quality side lamps with light coloured shades around the property but especially in the main reception rooms and on bedside lockers in the bedrooms.
Add a bit of luxury
For the finishing touches perhaps think about adding a little bit of luxury to the look of the property. This can be done in a variety of ways. If necessary, borrow some key pieces of furniture to create that designer look. Think about investing in items that can be taken to your next property such as plush cushions, lamps and throws. Large garden planters and good quality patio furniture can add style to a garden. Coffee table styling is all the rage and simple to replicate. A few coffee table books, a diffuser, candle and plant sitting on a tray, ooze luxury and style. Keep an eye on interior magazines for inspiration. Even Instagram and Pinterest are great resources to pick up styling tips.
The overall message therefore is that a little effort goes a long way in creating that extra bit of elegance and style to your property, to entice as many potential buyers as possible. Equally a property in need of repair or in poor condition can be made so much more appealing by utilising some of these tips. Start preparing early so as not to become overwhelmed by all the jobs to be done and enjoy the process which can be very satisfying and rewarding. Ultimately, you will feel comfortable in the knowledge that you have given the property the best possible opportunity to attain a very good result!
Hunters Estate Agent have an in-house staging consultant that can assist with suggestions and help should you choose to work with us.