As we enter week 7 of lockdown in the UK, Brexit’s effect on the residential property market seems oh but a distant memory. As we turned the corner past the General Election in December 2019, many buyers and sellers alike thought 2020 was going to be their year to move house, as the beginning of the year saw the market start to about turn from the previous three years of stagnation and uncertainty. Little did we know at that stage what was around the corner for us.
In the last 24 hours, the residential property market has been given a ‘green light’ to commence it’s re-opening, whilst strictly adhering to social distancing and naturally protecting buyers, sellers and agents alike throughout. However, if you did have plans to sell your home in 2020, don’t let the situation surrounding the virus deter you. Despite current restrictions surrounding the country, why not use this time to prepare your home for the market? The start of the year saw buyer sentiment improve, with hopes of the market regaining much needed strength. And those buyers are still there, having seen the current situation as merely a “pause” button as opposed to “stop”, and are able to take advantage of historically low interest rates making mortgages the cheapest they have ever been. The question is no longer ‘should I borrow money’, but instead ‘why wouldn’t I borrow money’ in the form of a mortgage.
So with garden centers and home improvement stores now allowed to be open as well, utilize this time to make your home the best it can be, ready to hit the ground running and take full advantage of what could well be a ‘bounce back’ market. Below are 7 ‘check list’ items to go through in order to prepare your home to market:
Take time to walk around your property and look as if you were a buyer. Look for any small items which could easily be fixed, or dealt with and get the tool box out. A small settlement crack, a hole which needs filling from a previous painting on the wall, a small water stain from an historic leak, the patch of carpet which got attacked by the cat, any light bulbs gone, loose door handles etc. Remember, if you can see it, so too will a buyer, and they will likely ask what it was/is. It’s better to get these things sorted before they become bigger problems.
When you sell your home, remember that you are selling the space. You aren’t selling your décor, your furniture, your family photographs. Buyers want to be able to see the space which your home offers, and the individual rooms. Stand in each room and ask yourself whether what is currently in there allows you to see space the room offers. Be careful not to strip the personality or character from a room though, but think about how best to show those rooms off to their full potential to buyers. If that means taking down a few personalized items, and removing one or two boxes, items or furniture, it will certainly be worth it. Rooms that look too busy, full of mismatching furniture or an oversupply of personal details, can also make a room look smaller. Prospective buyers usually like to check cupboards for storage: if they’re packed full, empty them out slightly and throw away everything you don’t need, or put things in a suitcase for a few weeks. Hide all those plastic toys which can take up so much space. Demonstrating your home has adequate storage is crucial.
Pull on those gardening gloves and enjoy the sunshine. We’re not asking you to suddenly become Alan Titchmarsh or Monty Don, but make your garden as presentable as you can. Mow the lawn, pull up the weeds, sprinkle some lawn feed over the grass, snip back the hedges if they are taking over the garden path and find a storage spot for all the kids toys. A garden doesn’t have to be filled with exotic plants, or be equipped with the finest gin and tonic sundown deck, but looking neat and tidy goes a long way.
It’s important to keep your property ticking over whilst you list it for sale. Make sure the gravel on the driveway is plentiful, check your appliances work and keep them in good order. Check whether your boiler needs a service, and try and get it organized in good time. A buyer will likely only ask you to do it later down the line! See if any rooms could do with a touch up of paint, or indeed a fresh coat. Think in detail as well – a lot of buyers like to test water pressure in a house if they are changing area and don’t know what it would be like. Thus, they often like to turn the shower on or run a tap to test the water pressure – make sure those shower heads are not clogged with limescale!
A big corner of cobwebs isn’t all that appealing to anyone, so take time to carefully clean your house from top to bottom, paying particular attention to kitchens, bathrooms etc. Make sure you cover all the bits you might normally brush over and ignore. Get those windows open and the fresh air flowing as well. Tidy house, tidy mind.
Try and keep décor as neutral as possible. As wonderful as the big, bold colours and exotic wallpapers are, they are not to every buyers tastes, and some may struggle to see through it. Bring a few house plants in if you want to highlight focal points in a room and a pop of colour can draw buyers attention to that spot. Help your buyers envisage themselves in your home by adding deliberate vignettes that showcase how your home can be lived in. An inviting armchair and a tray with a coffee cup and book can suddenly turn that empty corner into a cosy reading nook.
It’s important to keep the flow around your house going, so if you can, give every room a purpose. Rooms which currently are storage holes piled high with boxes you never quite found a home for, for example. Perhaps remove the boxes, pop a desk in with a sofa bed, and you have a spare room/study. Or pop the kids toys there to create a separate playroom.
And finally, my bonus tip – the front door. It’s your buyers first impression of your property, and that first impression goes a long way.
If you have any questions about how to prepare your home ready to go to the market, or indeed would like us to value your home, don’t hesitate to call our sales team on 01865 510000 / 01235 772299.
Do continue to take care, and stay safe.