10 Things to do Before You Call an Estate Agent
Preparing your house for sale thoroughly is vital if you want to sell it fast and for the maximum amount of money.
Within the space of a year I sold 2 houses, so I know how to prepare a house for sale. I have also bought a house and as a potential buyer I know what a difference these tips can make.
My starting point is that most people have absolutely no imagination (and I mean none!), so you have to lay it all out for them. Make your house look and feel as wonderful as it possibly can. That includes for the Estate Agents when they come round to give you a valuation. Contrary to popular belief, Estate Agents are actually human beings! They are as easily swayed as anyone else. They also want to make their job as easy as possible. If your house looks like a tough sell for them, they will tend to give you a lower valuation. So it is just as important to make sure it looks as good for them as for a potential buyer.
Before you call the Estate Agent
I can’t say this one enough…get rid of absolutely everything that doesn’t totally need to be there. The tatty old shelves that you have been meaning to get rid of, those old toys the kids don’t play with anymore…it’s all got to go. Go through each room and clear it out methodically. Think of it as a bit of pre-packing for your move. Before our last move I think I was single-handedly stocking our local Freecycle site for weeks! The less ‘stuff’ (including furniture) you have in the room, the bigger and lighter and more airy it feels.
If you have lots of things that you don’t want to get rid of, but you don’t actually need on display, use the loft, use under-bed storage, but get it out of sight. DO NOT stuff it into the cupboard under the stairs or fitted wardrobes and the like. Viewers will look in there, so you don’t want it all falling out on their heads! If you have too much stuff or items that are too big to hide under the bed, consider getting a storage locker for a few weeks. If the house looks great it will sell quickly, so this small investment will be well worth it.
2. Do all those maintenance jobs
We all have those niggly little jobs in our houses that need doing. I currently have 2 taps that don’t work and a couple of cracked tiles in the bathroom – to name but two. It’s easy to stop noticing these things when you live with them, but believe me viewers will notice. Make sure the sillicone around the bath and kitchen worktops is fresh and white, and you have done any little repairs. Not doing these jobs makes the house look a bit unloved, which makes people wonder if there are bigger jobs that have been left. This could mean they offer you less money than they otherwise might, or just don’t make an offer at all.
3. Refresh Your Paintwork
As part of your DIY jobs, going round and touching up the paintwork is also really important. I have two young kids, so our walls below waist height are always a bit grubby! Freshening up your paintwork is a really cheap and easy way to instantly give a room a lift.
4. Ditch the dodgy decor
Whilst touching up the paintwork, you might want to consider whether some of your decor choices are a bit ‘individual’. This is fine if you have no intention of moving, but when you are preparing your house for sale you want to appeal to the widest possible audience. Lots of people just can’t see past the existing decor. People may view several houses on a Saturday, you don’t want yours remembered as ‘the one with the lairy wallpaper’! Some people are also really put off if they feel they would have to redecorate every room in the house immediately.
5. Ditch the dodgy furniture
Consider whether any of your furniture looks a bit scruffy too. Whilst people aren’t buying the furniture and therefore it shouldn’t matter – it does. People can be incredibly distracted by scruffy looking or old fashioned furnishings! If you can’t get rid of the furniture, then at least consider buying covers or throws to try and make it look a bit better – it can really help. Below is a picture of our dodgy dining room chairs with and without covers on. The covers were cheap to buy from Amazon, just pull on and can be easily washed, but make all the difference!
6. Look at the layout of your rooms
When selling your house, you want to make viewers think about how they might live in the house, not how you actually do at the moment! Sometimes when you live in a house for a while, you end up arranging the furniture in a certain way because it works for you on a practical level. However when it comes to selling the house, you need to show the rooms off in the best way that you can to emphasise their best points, so some rearranging might be required.
7. Make sure every room has a purpose
We are lucky enough to have a spare bedroom in our house. At the moment it is used as something inbetween a home office and a laundry room/ storage space. In other words it is a useful room but it doesn’t have a clear purpose. However, if I were selling, it would be shown either as a stylish home office, or as a bedroom. When preparing your house for sale, every room in your home needs to have a clear purpose. It doesn’t matter if that is not what you actually use it for on a daily basis. Again, this is about making viewers think about how they could live in the house – and not about how you actually do.
8. De-personalise, but not too much
Now this is a bit of a tricky one. You don’t want your house to be so bland (after you’ve decluttered and repainted in neutral tones) that it feels cold and unwelcoming and like nobody lives there. Equally you have to give people space to imagine what it might be like to live in themselves. Personally I think there is nothing wrong with having a few family photos around, as long as you don’t have millions and they aren’t massive. I once looked around a house where the owners had put up so many photos of themselves and their kids, that I actually recognised them when I saw them in the street – about 2 years later! Generally, attractive landscapes or abstract pictures in calming colours is probably the best way to go. Similarly, a few ornaments here and there are fine, but nothing too unusual or memorable. Don’t be remembered as ‘that house with the stuffed badger in the living room’!
9. Cut the grass
Don’t forget the outside of your home makes just as much of an impression as the inside. Make sure the driveway is clean and tidy. Cut the grass so that it looks neat and make sure the front door looks smart.
10. Clean, Clean, and Clean some more
Your house can not be clean enough when you are trying to sell it. Our house is a normal family home, not usually immaculate, but when we’re selling it is cleaned and tidied to within an inch of it’s life! You often get viewings at short notice, or several on the same day, so it’s easier to be prepped and ready at 10 minutes notice at all times. Not easy when you have kids I know, but believe me the effort will pay off.
If you have done all these things, you should be good to go! Preparing your house for sale is a big job, but if you put the effort in it can really pay off in a faster sale and maximum sale price.