Follow this expert advice to help you make your property irresistible to potential homebuyers. If you want to make a swift sale on your home – and at the right price – it pays to show it off to its maximum potential. The goal is not only to prompt an offer, but also to ensure house-hunters don’t have any reason to haggle down the list price.
Here, three professional home stagers tell us some of their top tips for styling a property to make a great first impression.
Professional advice from: Titilola Ajayi-Jones of The HomeWorks; Elaine Penhaul at Lemon and Lime Interiors; Alx Gunn of Alx Gunn Interiors
1. Take a step back
A good place to start when beginning the process of selling your home is to imagine how potential buyers will see it.
“You may have been living in your home for many happy years, but when you’re selling, you need to step back, take a deep breath and start looking at it with fresh eyes – potential buyers’ eyes,” Alx Gunn says.
“Grab a pen and notepad and walk around each space, making a note of all the potential snagging points and areas that could be improved,” she says.
To help you see your home in a new light, Alx recommends you take photos. “Grab a camera and take a wide-angled landscape shot from each corner of each room,” she says. “Examine the photos and see what stands out. Do you need to replace cushions, buy new bed linen, add a few plants or declutter surfaces? Looking at your property through a picture will help you refine your spaces.”
Find a recommended home stager in your area to help show your property off to its full potential.
2. Repair and retouch
Before you put your home on the market, it’s a good idea to carry out any maintenance or repairs that could put buyers off, or prompt them to offer a lower price. “Remember, most new homeowners will want to move in right away, so the idea of them having to replace, repair or redecorate could be off-putting,” Alx says.
“Potential buyers can also accidentally make massively inflated valuations based on what they believe certain repair and replenishment works will cost,” she says, “so by getting these jobs done in advance, you’ll make the property more saleable and give buyers less wriggle room when it comes to making an offer.”
“Badly done work can also have a negative impact,” warns Titilola Ajaya-Jones. “Use tradespeople and professionals as much as possible – not everyone knows how to plaster a wall, paint, tile, fit a kitchen worktop or lay a carpet.”
3. Dilute the décor
To encourage buyers to imagine the potential of your home, it makes sense to avoid distracting decoration. “Try to keep the wall colours neutral,” Elaine Penhaul says.
“If you have a lot of existing dark wood furniture, instead of buying new, make it work with the rest of the room,” she suggests. “Bring in some modern pieces to help pull the scheme together in an eclectic style. It will have a great effect without a major price tag.”
4. Clear the decks
Allow potential buyers to see the space available in your property by keeping the rooms as decluttered as possible. “While we’re not all called, or able, to live the minimalist lifestyle, excessive clutter can choke the life out of a house and make it appear stressful,” Titilola says. Elaine agrees and adds, “Potential buyers will find it hard to look beyond the clutter. They’ll want to see the space available and how their furniture will work in your house. A messy and chaotic home detracts from the property itself and causes some buyers to walk away, as they can’t see what’s behind the clutter.”
“A good way to declutter is to classify items as either ‘practical’, ‘beautiful’ or ‘sentimental’ and assign to each a value from one to 10 to decide whether to keep it,” Titilola says. “Anything under five can be donated or recycled.”
“Don’t hang onto things you don’t need,” Elaine says. “Starting this process early will give you an advantage when you move into your new home.”
Organisation is also key for buyers. “Have as much storage as you can and know where everything goes, so it’s easy to tidy up,” Titilola says.
5. Make it look lived-in
While a light, neutral scheme allows viewers to see the bones of your home, an empty property won’t have quite the same effect. “If you’re planning to sell a vacant property, staging makes a huge difference,” Alx says. “It allows buyers to visualise the space and, if done well, can transform an empty shell into a home.”
6. Eliminate odours
It’s not just the appearance of your home that will influence viewers – the scent is also important. “An unpleasant smell will immediately put off potential buyers,” Elaine says. “So address any smells, such as dog, damp or cigarette smoke. “Remove any evidence of pets, such as a smelly bed,” she suggests, “and use a carpet or upholstery cleaning service to refresh the carpets and furniture.”
Titilola recommends you find professional help to address the smell of damp and mold. “If necessary, call in an expert to find out where water is seeping into the house and fix the problem,” she says. “It could be broken gutters, rising damp, or that you need to fit a trench drain. None of these should be excessively costly to fix, but will certainly be harder to deal with as the problem gets worse.”
To illustrate her point, Titilola adds, “I’ve seen a house with excessive water damage – mainly because of a broken gutter costing a maximum of £300 to repair – take about £100,000 off the value of the house.”
7. Brighten it up
Both natural light and artificial illumination can be used to show your property at its best. “Your house needs to be bright and well lit for viewings to demonstrate the true size of the space,” Elaine says, “so consider how your lighting looks in each room. “Pull back curtains and open blinds to make the most of the natural light, but also think about creating an ambience by positioning additional lamps on side tables around the room,” she says. “We find big floor lamps work well for adding more light and also as a great statement piece for a room.”
8. Maximise marketing
When choosing an estate agent, high valuations and low fees aren’t the only things you should consider. “Choose an agent with a proven track record and one whose marketing stands out,” Elaine says. “They should also be able to advise you on the profile of your likely buyer, so your presentation will appeal to the right audience.”
Our experts agree it’s vital your agent uses a high-quality professional photographer. “Competition is tough and you want your property to stand out across all the marketing mediums,” Elaine says. “If you’ve gone to the trouble of making sure your home looks perfect, you’ll want your photographs to reflect that.”
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