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  1. Blog
  2. How to present your house for sale
House selling tips
29 September 2021

How to present your house for sale

Sam Edwards
Senior Writer & Researcher
Estate agent leading family around a potential new home.

Table of contents

  1. 1. When your property listing goes live...
  2. 2. The day before your house viewing...
  3. 3. On the day of your house viewing...
  4. 4. How long do house viewings take?
  5. 5. Top five tips for staging your home to sell
  6. 6. Getting views but no offers?

Preparing for house viewings can be both scary and exciting. A lot rests on how well people receive your home. It's important not to panic - now is the time to maximise your home's potential.

In this article, we look at the best ways to prepare your home for a viewing, as well as last minute tips for extra brownie points.

When your property listing goes live...

To get the most out of your house viewings, you should start prepping as soon as your property hits the market. The preparation you do early on will help you make the best impression when prospective buyers pay a visit.

In the weeks leading up to putting your property on the market, you should prioritise getting these 7 important things done.

1. Speak to your estate agent

There are three reasons why getting in touch with your estate agent should be the first thing you do.

Firstly, your agent requires comprehensive information about your property. By sharing all the essential details early on, your agent can craft an exceptional online property advert that stands out from the competition. This engaging and informative advertisement will capture potential buyers' attention and generate more interest in your home.

Secondly, it's crucial to inform your agent about any time constraints you might have hosting house viewings. If there are specific periods when viewings are not possible, such as during young children's bedtimes, communicate this to your agent promptly. With this information, they can schedule appointments that align with your availability, ensuring a smoother process for you and your family during this potentially stressful time.

Lastly, as an expert in selling property, your estate agent's knowledge is invaluable in identifying your target market. Rely on their advice to focus your efforts effectively when preparing your home for sale. Their knowledge of the market will help you prioritise the most impactful improvements, saving you time and effort, as well as making your property stand out from the crowd.

While blogs and articles provide general guidance, trusting your agent's recommendations, especially if they have a proven track record of success, will be the wisest course of action.

2. See if you can make any quick fix wins

Take this time to fix any small, niggling issues: replace any blown light bulbs, repair wonky or loose door handles, reseal leaky bathroom fittings, or any other small things that may have fallen under the radar.

Small problems like these aren't likely to completely put off a buyer, but they can detract from the positive aspects of your property. And, subconsciously, a buyer may feel that a person who hasn’t addressed small issues likely won't have addressed bigger things, either.

Remember: Sometimes it's hard to see all the details and problems in your home if you’ve lived there a while. Go through each room with a family member or friend - or even better, your estate agent - and make a list of any little bits that could do with cleaning or fixing.

3. Clear out clutter

The early stages of marketing your home is the perfect time for a clear out. It's very easy to accumulate lots of personal belongings - particularly if you've lived somewhere a long time.

Sort out which bits you'd actually like to take with you to your new home, and which you want to donate, sell, or throw out. Remember, the viewer needs to be able to picture themselves living in your house, which means sentimental items, like family photos, will have no meaning to potential buyers. They also need to see the benefits of adequate storage - so you can't just shove everything in a cabinet.

4. Sort out the garden

Gardens and outdoor space are key selling points for many homes. If you're lucky enough to have your own outdoor space, it's worth putting in a bit of time to make it look it's best: a nice garden can increase the value of your home by up to 20%.

It doesn't take much: pulling up weeds, mowing the lawn, and adding a couple of pots of colourful plants can go a long way to improving the feel of a garden. Adding in some good quality garden furniture is also a nice way to demonstrate to buyers how the space can be used.

This is also a great time to jet wash your patios and walk paths. Clean patios make an excellent first impression to potential buyers as they walk up to your front door.

For more tips on prepping your garden, head here.

5. Maximise your kerb appeal

Kerb appeal is simply how attractive your property looks to someone walking or driving past. Think about what a potential buyer will see as they are walking up towards your home. What are the first things that will catch their eye?

Consider what flaws might stand out or make it less appealing, and if there are any 'wow-factor' elements that could be emphasised. A good place to start is to clean and paint doors and window frames, replace old doormats, and hide wheelie bins somewhere discreet.

6. Ensure each room has a singular purpose

It's common for rooms to serve more than one function. A spare room might do double duty as a workout room and a study; you might use your dining room as a playroom too. However, when it comes to selling a property, giving each room a defined purpose makes it easier for a buyer to envisage their life there.

If you're unsure what purpose to go with, always keep in mind who your target buyer is. For example, young professionals might prefer a study over a playroom.

7. Avoid any larger upgrades

While it can be tempting to make large upgrades to your property in a last minute attempt to boost its value, consider carefully whether it's worthwhile. We cover large renovations in more detail in our guide 'How much does it cost to sell a house?'.

The day before your house viewing...

On the day of a house viewing, don't waste time trying to make everything perfect. Your focus should be on quick, big-impact fixes. A good rule of thumb is to think about the main senses: what can you see, smell, and hear when you walk around your home.

With limited time, and with your buyers probably looking at multiple properties in a row, first impressions count.

1. Wipe down surfaces

Particularly in high-traffic areas like the kitchen and bathroom.

2. Hoover

A quick hoover is an easy way to freshen up a space when you have limited time.

3. Double check that cupboards and storage spaces are neat

Potential buyers are nosy, they're likely to want to check out what storage space you have available, so make sure the insides of cupboards are presentable.

4. Tidy away toys

While it can be hard to keep on top of children's things around the house, doing a quick sweep before viewings will help your home look neater.

5. Take out the bin

Even if it's not quite full, taking out your bin will limit the chance of bad smells leaving a bad impression. If your wheelie bins are at the front of your house, tidy them to one side, or try and place them somewhere discreet.

6. Clean the litter tray

As with your bin, making sure your pet's litter trays or hutches are clean will help solve the dual problems of house smell and the appearance of mess.

7. Avoid airing your dirty laundry

If you're including white goods in your sale, viewers may want to inspect them up close during the viewing. Make sure your washing machine and dryer are empty before viewings in case people want to see inside. It's worth emptying the dishwasher too.

8. Think carefully about what you're cooking

Before you start cooking on the day of a viewing, think carefully about how the smell of the food might linger. Avoid cooking particularly strong smelling foods like fish or eggs, if possible. Again, one of your main priorities here is to eliminate bad smells.

9. Set your stage

Staging your home is the perfect final touch that'll make a huge difference to your property's reception. The little things like clean, folded towels in the bathroom, and replacing personal ornaments and photographs with more neutral decor items like fresh flowers, or lightly scented candles, can add that extra appeal to your home.

For inspiration on easy ways to stage your home, browse Instagram, or read interior design magazines, where professional home staging is often a big feature.

On the day of your house viewing...

In the hour before a viewing, there are a few final things you can do:

1. Open windows

Letting the fresh air in will help air out rooms, and ensure that any lingering smells are banished. Don’t overdo it with air fresheners and diffusion sticks - some people won't react well to the smells or strong odours. Flowers with low scents work better.

2. Open interior doors

Where possible, keep the interior doors of your home open. This will make the inside of the house look more spacious, and make it easier for buyers to wander round.

3. Last minute tidy

Tackle any small, annoying things that can be dealt with quickly.

4. Make sure the temperature of every room is at a comfortable level

A too cold house suggests to a prospective buyer that your home might be difficult to keep warm.

5. Open the curtains in every room

Letting the natural light in will make your home look bigger.

6. Move your car

If you normally park your car on a drive outside your home, see if you can park it elsewhere. This will give potential buyers a clear view of your house as they walk up to it.

7. Head out

As a general rule, it's better for you to be out of the house when viewings are taking place.

8. Take out your pets (or arrange a pet sitter to look after them)

It's a good idea to take pets along too. Viewers might be allergic or afraid of animals.

9. Tidy away pet bowls and cages

Pets leave behind a mess, especially around their bowls and cages. What's more, bowls and cages will remind viewers to look for dog or cat hairs.

10. Tidy away items in the bathroom

Make sure all your toiletries are stowed safely away in a cupboard. If you have kids, ensure all their bath toys are placed somewhere less visible.

How long do house viewings take?

House viewings can vary in length depending on the size of your property. As a general rule, expect them to take around 20 - 30 minutes.

If your agent is hosting an open house event, expect this to take between a couple of hours to an entire day.

Top five tips for staging your home to sell

1. Try and keep your house close to 'ready' for viewings throughout the marketing period

This will make it easier to facilitate last minute viewings.

2. Make certain tasks a regular habit

If you can mow the lawn and clean your windows regularly during the marketing period, you won't need to go into panic mode when it comes time to prepare for a viewing.

3. Pay special attention to prep in areas of the house with extra 'wow-factor'

If your living room is the highlight of your home, focus your efforts there to ensure viewers see it in its best possible light. If your home includes unique features like a fireplace, or large windows, arrange your furniture in those rooms to make the feature the focal point.

4. Listen to feedback from viewers - and act on it

If viewers tell your estate agent that they love your home 'but...', listen to their complaint and do what you can to rectify it before the next potential buyer comes to visit.

5. Leave hosting to the estate agents

When it comes to selling a home, there's no better advocate than an experienced agent. Many buyers also feel more comfortable asking difficult questions if the current owner isn't present. If you are in the house - say hello, but then let the viewers and agent walk around without interfering.

Getting views but no offers?

If they aren't already, we recommend getting your estate agent to take immediate feedback from your viewers to identify anything you need to fix or improve. For more tips, check out our blog.

If your house still isn't selling, it may be time to compare local property experts. The best estate agent can make an astronomical difference to your home sale.

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