Rule number one of property presentation: de-clutter! Check out house and garden magazines for inspiration – you’ll note that all those glossy homes are clutter free. Use the sale of your home as an opportunity to de-clutter your life. And be ruthless. If time is limited or you can’t bear to part with your family of stuffed toys, pack them up and send them off for short term storage. There are plenty of secure self-storage facilities listed in the Yellow Pages.
Say it with flowers.
Buying flowers before every viewing is a great tactic. Choose carefully to capture the colour and atmosphere of your décor and don’t overdo it – a couple of stunning vases in strategic places is enough to make a striking impression. Make sure they are at their freshest and most fragrant.
Make your bathrooms, toilets and powder rooms look as if they’ve never been used. Think five star luxury combined with hospital grade hygiene. Stow half used toilet rolls and replace them with brand new ones. Buy a packet of disinfectant wipes for quick once overs between bathroom cleaning days. Have a set of fresh towels and unused pretty soaps on hand for open day and hide away those everyday items such as loofahs, shaving mugs, shampoo bottles, tissues and toothbrushes.
Your pets may be part of the family but discerning house-hunters will sniff out cats and dogs as soon as they walk through the door – especially if they are prone to hayfever. You
don’t want the first few seconds of a buyer’s critical first impression to be interrupted by a sneezing fit or a whiff of a litter tray. Send pets on a short holiday with friends or family while you market your home and make sure there is no trace of fur on soft furnishings.
A buyer will make a decision about a house in the first few seconds of a viewing – usually by imagining themselves at home. Evoke an emotional connection by tempting the senses. Pop a tray of scones or a cake mix into the oven, brew a pot of coffee and play some soothing background music. Spray your favourite home perfume or burn essential oils, such as lavender, orange or peppermint. In summer, ensure the house is cool and in winter, use heating to set the inside temperature at a comfortable level. Remember your demographic and fake it if necessary. So if you’re empty nesters targeting a young family, beg or borrow furniture and accessories to set up a cheery children’s room.
Any sign of cigarettes is an instant turn off. Plan ahead to guarantee clean air when your home hits the market. A month or so before, banish resident smokers to the outdoors only or better still, make them agree to quit. Then have your soft furnishings, carpets and curtains professionally cleaned. In the case of indoor smoking, look out for discolouration. Tobacco-stained ceilings and walls will need thorough cleaning or a coat of paint.
Don’t skimp on the garden – it’s important to buyers as we embrace an outdoors-oriented lifestyle. Pep up a patchy lawn by scattering some lawn seed a few weeks ahead. Splash out on punnets of colourful annuals to fill garden gaps and provide instant appeal. Applying a thick layer of black mulch will make a big difference to tired garden beds. Maximise the WOW factor with a light spray of water just before viewing time for lush foliage and a fresh, summery fragrance. The days are gone when you could hide all your backyard clutter in the shed or around the side – box it up and send it away for storage.
Even the most organised seller will be frantic before a home open. In your haste to present the perfect image, don’t forget the little things such as removing washing from the line, emptying bins, closing toilet lids and hiding damp tea towels. Be mindful that even the best laid plans can go awry. Have contingency measures to cater for clutterbusting emergencies. Washing machines and laundry hampers make excellent hiding spots for last minute clean ups, as do cars.