Helen Silver – Styling to sell

Styling to sell……. A marketing tool

Whatever your reason for selling, any property you place on the market should be ready to capture the attention of prospective buyers.

As a nation we tend to be completely obsessed with property. Endless TV shows from how to DIY or completely restore, homes to buy abroad and in the country, sell for more and advice for landlords etc…all follow the highs and lows of the property market. So why when it comes to selling our own homes, do the majority of us decide, almost on the spur of the moment, to ‘stick it on the market and see what happens’?

For most, our homes are our biggest asset. An investment that should under the right circumstances provide a good return. The ‘see what happens’ attitude seems at odds with our interest in making money from property, especially when few would sell a car without giving it a quick wash and vacuum first!

Preparing your home for sale is an effective marketing tool. Similar to launching any product, careful planning and knowing what action to take, can result in a faster and more profitable sale. Encouraging someone to connect with your product (home), getting them to imagine how it will suit their family and benefit their lifestyle is not just a simple case of luck; it’s about creating the irresistible urge to buy!

There are lots of tips I could give to prepare for a successful sale but many will be down to individual room definitions and property layouts. So, here are 6 basic top tips to get you started and if you need any more ….. call me!

1. Pets – Some people love them, some people hate them and some people are allergic to them. If you have a pet(s) consider re-homing them, just for the day (or viewings), or even (and I realise this is a big ask) for the few weeks your property is up for sale. I have a dog, a small one but seeing the look on people’s faces when they come face to face with him and are least expecting it would make you realise that if it happened to your viewers, one of two things would occur … 1. The soppy dog lovers would pay more attention to your dog (or cat) and focus less attention on your gorgeous home 2. The dog (or cat) haters would feel uncomfortable, terrified even, completely on their guard and rush round your property leaving as soon as they could. There is a third of course….those with allergies. If you have a buyer that is allergic to animals, a nasty coughing or sneezing bout reaction will most likely put paid to a quick and profitable sale. Remove all pet bowls, dog baskets and (especially) litter trays. And don’t forget to open the windows (before they come round) to get rid of any lingering smells.

2. Kids – This really is an old fashioned case of ‘out of sight out of mind’ I’m afraid. Possibly ‘seen and not heard’ but that could mean that silencing the chatter = TV on full blast or your teenage son lying prostrate on his bed listening to his IPod and dominating ‘his’ room. Much like pets, some people will love your kids and some will ‘dislike’ them. Don’t let the Kids take ownership of your property, let the buyers see what a calm and peaceful, family household you run with masses of room for all those (tidy) toys and, oh joy, what wonderfully neat bedrooms! Arrange where possible for someone else to look after them for an hour or, if they are old enough, send them off to the cinema.

3. Clean – I’ve lost count of the number of properties I’ve viewed where last night’s takeaway cartons are poking out of the bin, the washing up is piled high next to the sink and the shower door needs wrenching open because of lovely limescale! Buyers expect to see an immaculate home with no signs of dirt, dust or hair. If you want people to actually buy your property and not just view, clean up your gunk and please…. No dirty underwear strewn across the bedroom floor! Other peoples grime is just that, your dust particles are your skin-flakes. Buyers need to imagine themselves living in ‘your’ space, your perfectly clean home (much fresher and nicer than the one they’ve just come from) not rushing for the yellow pages to look up cleaning and fumigation companies! If you don’t think you can manage a full spring clean/deep clean, now is the time to treat yourself to a little domestic help.

4. Light – Open the blinds, put on a few lights, hang a mirror or two….Let there be light! How many times have you heard people talk about a property they’ve viewed being “dingy and dark” or the wonderful “light and airy” property they’ve just decided to buy? When your property is for sale, ditch the dusty nets and draw back the curtains, don’t close buyers out! Let them see in when they are approaching your house or driving by to decide if your property is worth viewing. Make it look inviting – not boarded up! Sparkling sunlight streaming in through (clean windows) and reflecting off a mirror, if it’s a perfect day, or a table lamp glowing in the corner of a room to add light and warmth on a dull day, will greatly enhance your property.

5. Drive By – Kerb appeal is like the cover on a good book. You want your buyers eager to turn the page and see what’s next. Make your property stand out by painting the front door a lovely colour and planting window boxes or flower tubs, whatever time of year your property is on the market. Do a drive by yourself… what stands out to you? A broken fence, peeling paint, blocked gutters, an overgrown garden? Address any detail that might prevent a buyer from wanting to view, after all you don’t want a ‘drive by’ you want to encourage them to come in!

6. Agents – Choose carefully! Don’t enlist an agent just because your neighbour sold their house with them last year or because Fred & co are family friends. Do a bit of research, find out who’s the most proactive agent in your area, look for those who are ready to embrace new ideas; social media for instance or those who handle different ways of property promotion. Get a few valuations, three tend to be the norm but four or five will give you a better idea. Ask lots of questions don’t get tied into lengthy contracts and check your property details carefully before they go to print. Another good tip is to look at how many properties particular agents have taken on at a certain price and then had to reduce. Particularly try to find someone who is enthusiastic about your specific property, prepared to offer regular feedback and keen to work with you. If they’ve always done things a certain way and aren’t willing to listen to your ideas/concerns they may not be too good at actually ‘selling’ your home.

7. I know I said six top tips but of course I had to mention one more…… There is a blindingly obvious tip that always gets mentioned and is still a big problem but honestly, by now everyone should know better. Clutter! Clear it away! If you have outgrown your house, lack storage space or are just downright lazy, you could be jeopardising thousands of pounds. If there really isn’t anywhere to ‘put’ everything, start packing! You plan to move anyway so box up your treasures and put them in storage. Once you’ve put a bit of time and effort into getting the basics right call in your friends or relatives and ask for a second opinion or, take some quick photos to see what you may have missed. Your property will take on a whole new look and feel and definitely impress potential buyers.

Styling or staging your home won’t guarantee you’ll reach the full asking price. What it will do, is help maximise your property’s potential and allow you to achieve a faster sale for the best market price. And the quicker a property sells, the better chances of you getting more money for it.