Expert advice and top 10 tips on what you need to do when preparing your property for viewings from James Robinson, General Manager, Lurot Brand.
1. At viewings you have 30 seconds to make a first impression
Redecorate outside, tend to the front and rear gardens and don’t boil up cabbage, apples or tripe just before a viewing. No buyer has ever asked to see a small dark house so wash your windows, pull back the curtains and, unless you’re on a busy road, throw open the windows and leave the lights on. On a spring day not even the smell of freshly baked bread can compete with an abundance of light, birdsong and fresh air.
2. Please leave!
Every agent knows that an owner being present on a viewing is the kiss of death and more than halves the chance of a sale. You being there will make many buyers feel claustrophobic in the same way as when a desperate shop assistant chases you around a clothes store. Your agent knows exactly what the buyer is looking for which is why he has brought them to your house plus you probably will not like to hear what your agent needs to say about your house to sell it. So it is always best to go for a walk, even more so if you have children and or a dog, as some people can’t stand either.
3. Ask your friends
It is probably best not to only ask your estate agent what you should do to improve the appearance of your house as you won’t like what they say and you will probably fall out. It is far better to ask your two most brutally honest friends, separately, to view your house and give their cold and honest views. Do not make suggestions as they will agree simply to flatter you.
4. If it’s a wreck, call it a wreck
Do not accept your estate agent’s cringe worthy descriptions, ‘ deceptively spacious’, ‘old world charm’ ‘faded grandeur’ blah! blah! If your house is a wreck shout it from the roof tops. The majority of our buyers want something they can do up. Post the referendum/stamp duty lunacy, buyers want to feel that what they buy has scope for improvement so they can recession proof themselves. After all it is better to pleasantly surprise your buyers than disappoint them when they arrive.
5. Get it furnished and furnished well
Not only do empty houses look like they have just been burgled they also appear far smaller than they really are. Good furniture gives scale for example an empty medium size double bedroom always looks like a single but if you furnish cheap you will sell cheap.
6. Corridors of Power
Unless your house is extremely grand remove coats and pictures from the entrance hall and corridors as they make them feel dark and narrow but mirrors work wonders.
7. Highest price – lowest fee
Playing to your greed and offering a low fee is the bad estate agents way of winning your instruction. Ignore the valuer’s enthusiasm and Rockefeller valuation, after instructing him you will never see him again, look at the evidence he brought with him for justifying his valuation and ask to meet the team who will actually be selling the house. When the market is flying you can ask a big price and simply wait. Unfortunately the market isn’t flying so it is imperative you get the price right at launch which is when you will get the best price. Reduced properties invariably sell for less than houses priced correctly.
8. Find the specialist
Not all agents are the same, if you have a grand or niche property there is normally an independent specialist who can give you the very best advice. It is worth searching for your type and style of property on the portals to find the agent most active in your sector.
9. Where does your agent live?
Estate agency has become a very corporate affair with over reliance on the property portals. At the top end of the market, very often, houses are sold to buyers who were not actively looking but have trusted an estate agent, normally through recommendation, to call them when the ‘right property’ is coming to the market and they fully expect that it may take years. So it is better to choose an agent who lives and socialises locally, rather than a commuting director managing a team of young and inexperienced negotiators.
10. Act on your agent’s advice
Your agent’s advice might not be what you want to hear but, as long as it is well evidenced you need to both accept it and act on it. Remember, although you may have bought and sold a number of properties through your life, your agent has sold thousands.