- Keep your storage space spick and span
- Make viewers feel instantly at home
- Get all those odd jobs done – finally!
As well as decluttering and treating all the walls and doors to a new lick of paint, there are lots of ways to convince buyers that your home's the one for them. For starters, think about who your buyer is likely to be.
'If you have a family house, focus on making sure that the kitchen looks its best rather than on whether the surround sound system works,' advises Caspar Harvard-Walls, partner at property buying agency Black Brick. 'If the property is likely to appeal to a professional couple, then the master bedroom and bathroom are more relevant.'
What’s in store?
Ample storage space is the top priority for homeowners, according to a study by Furniture123 – with 26 per cent claiming that this was the most important factor to them and 19 per cent reporting that they'd previously turned down a property because of its lack of storage space. But it's not just a case of stuffing things in cupboards – the space should look neat inside, too, especially if someone might open the cupboard door.
It's great to be able to give buyers the run of your home without hovering over them, so remove anything fragile and hide your valuables away. Check which of your possessions are covered just in case something does go missing after the tidy-up.
Your family photos and holiday mementos may evoke cherished memories, but for visitors they could give the wrong impression.
'This is definitely the "selfie era" but, when you're selling, it's time to take a step back,' says Walter Di Martino, head of communications at property portal Gate-Away.com. 'This means removing family portraits from walls and furniture so potential buyers will be able to envisage themselves and their families in your house, not you.'
Also make an effort to remove any pet traces from your home, as not everyone likes animals and some may even have allergies. While no one expects your pets to go on holiday while your house is up for sale, keeping evidence to a minimum can help. Tidy away litter boxes, toys and food dishes, and don't forget to vacuum dog and cat hair off your sofa and carpets.
A quick fixture refresh
Before you put your house on the market, it's time to brave the 'man drawer' for the WD40, some batteries and a radiator key.
'Your house will seem old and not well maintained to the attentive eyes of the prospective buyer if things don't work perfectly,' warns Walter Di Martino. 'Try using some lubricating oil on window, door and cupboard hinges to get rid of squeaks.'
Next, check that all the electrics work, from the doorbell to the smoke detectors, and, if necessary, replace the batteries. After all the doors stop squeaking and the lights stop flickering, bleed the radiators.
'A functioning heating system is key to making the property cosy, warm and inviting,'says Karl Tulloch, founder and MD of home repairs and service provider Rightio. 'Not only will a toasty house make the viewer feel positive, but it subconsciously reinforces the idea that this will be a low-maintenance property that’s easy and cheap to heat.'
Don't forget the basics
No one likes living in a show home, but simple things – such as loading the dishwasher or washing up after each meal – will make sure you're not caught out with a display of dirty crockery.
Comfort is also important, so think about where your buyers might sit down. Plump up cushions, flip mattresses and soften up any furniture you're leaving behind with throws and cushion pads.
You can't do a proper clean without shifting the furniture to clean underneath it – you could even rearrange to create more space in the living room. Once you've found the best arrangement for feng shui, get rid of any pesky dents left in your carpet with ice cubes – yes, ice cubes! Watch how on our cleaning tips video.
As well as surveying the floor, buyers' eyes are usually drawn to ceilings and walls as they look for signs of damp or leaks. Make sure you paint over signs of historic issues (that are now fixed!) to reassure them that they're looking at a well-maintained home.
Dress to impress
Arrange viewings for when your property looks its best during the day – for example, when it has sunlight streaming through the front windows or onto the garden. You could also let your neighbours know when your viewings will be, just in case they're planning a noisy party or renovation work.
If evenings are the only time you can do, or you're selling your house in winter, viewings will benefit from a light boost, so swap bulbs in lamps and ceiling fixtures for those that give out a crisp, bright light. This will help to create a warm welcome, but a strategically-placed doormat and somewhere to hang coats make buyers feel even more at home – plus it'll help keep muddy footprints at bay.
A nasty niff (perhaps from the aforementioned mud on the carpet) can put buyers on their guard, but a great smell will have the opposite effect. Keen bakers can opt for whipping up a batch of fresh cookies, but you could also consider scented candles, a discretely hidden diffuser or fresh flowers and plants dotted around each room. The benefit of baking is that you can offer your treats to guests afterwards, accompanied by a refreshing drink to wash it down.
Once everything's prepped to perfection, make sure that any photos of your place are taken with a wide-angle lens that it looks its absolute best on property sites.
You'll be surprised how just trying a few of these small steps can really increase your chances of a sale – even in a difficult property market. In fact, you may even find yourself falling back in love with your home yourself!