DBPR asked property experts Mark Parkinson, Marisa Varma and Alex Newall to offer a few pointers on property buyers’ first impressions and how to avoid the some obvious, and some not so obvious, pitfalls.
Mark Parkinson, Director at Middleton Advisors
Pets and children
Pets and children on school holidays need to be out of the way for viewings. Pets are much like children, you love them dearly, however other people probably don’t feel the same, accept this fact and keep them locked away, or out of the house completely! Keep distractions to a minimum, although dogs and animals are part of country life, people do not necessarily want them accompanying them on viewings.
Once regarded as a valued tip for the vendor, now smells of coffee brewing and baking bread raise suspicion in a purchasers mind. What is the home owner trying to hide; the smell of mildew, a smoker perhaps or wet dog?
Neutral odours achieved with fresh air are a safe bet, and will not offend any nose. You may believe that your wild apple and ylang ylang scented candles are a welcoming smell to potential buyers, proceed lighting too many with caution. In large open spaces scents can be appealing, used in a smaller study or every room within the house they can be overpowering, and leave the potential purchasers with a nasty headache! Plug in air fresheners are often even worse.
Make sure leaves are hoovered up, and paths are clear to walk around. Home buyers have been known to refuse entering a property because of a cluttered or unkempt garden. If your home looks cluttered people will think you don’t have space to store everything. Buyers want to see how your home can become theirs they do not want to see your children’s toy, shoes and boots littering the hallway or rooms used as general dumping grounds. With gloomy weather outside, good lighting inside is a must.”
Marisa Varma, Creative Director, Harrison Varma
Aromas, light & atmosphere
“For us, the phrase ‘a sense of arrival’ can be taken literally when creating first impressions – aromas, lighting and atmosphere – it is all about your initial reaction to a space. Of course, the entrance hall sets the scene; the level of comfort and circulation of a property is defined in this space and we believe a buyer decides within a matter of seconds if a property could become their next home.
Styling your home for sale and for yourself are two very different things. Of course, when for oneself the dressing of a space can be personal – it is for you to enjoy and to share your personality with your visitors. When you are styling for sales, you will probably wish to remove personal impact and draw on current trends and aspirational factors to increase the appeal of your home. A potential buyer must be able to imagine themselves in the space and not be overwhelmed with clutter and personal items.
Kitchens, family rooms and living rooms can give a real sense of lifestyle and comfort. Work on living zones to create lifestyle impact. Clear clutter to allow space for someone to imagine how they would live, but at the same time don’t be too bland, have a few well-chosen bowls or cups & saucers. Fresh looking food is always welcoming as well – apples, oranges for their colour and scent, or jars filled with sweets or biscuits.
Bedrooms and bathrooms should be calm oasis to relax, so work on calm colors and accessories to create an inviting space.
Creating groups of related items together on trays is a lovely way to create interest, for instance, small jars for bathroom toiletries, some flowers or plants and decorative saucers for rings etc. Grouping interesting items together, books, photo frames and collectables is also very appealing – doesn’t need to be expensive, inspiring and worthy of conversation!”
Alex Newall, Managing Director at Barnes Private Office
Dress for sale/letting
“If you are considering selling or letting your property, the marketing material and the property itself must be as perfect as possible. If you have planning – include the planning and mood boards, concept images or computer generated images in your marketing material. As ever, a good declutter and de-personalise always helps makes your property appeal to as wide an audience as possible.
Improve the area around your property
First impressions count and often before a buyer actually sees your property. There are plenty of neighbour schemes for litter picking, tree and flower planting and lobbying your local council. Make the street around your property as pretty as possible. Buyers often look at how tidy a street is, what cars are parked on it etc to make an initial judgement on the location and your neighbours.”