With the stamp duty holiday winding down ahead of 30 September, there are plenty of sales being completed in the housing market.
If you're one of the thousands looking to take advantage of the tax break before it ends, you'll need to make sure your property looks tip-top for when potential buyers visit for a viewing.
First impressions are important, so here are 10 tips for making your home look its very best for when it matters most.
1 - Declutter and clean
It may sound obvious that you should clean and tidy your home, but it can be surprising how many people simply don't bother.
Before putting your property on the market, you should have a good clear out of all the clutter you have accumulated over the years. Recycle it if possible using charity collections or shops, or if not possible, take it to your local council tip.
Take a critical look at each room and make sure there is not too much furniture filling every available space. If you don't want to get rid of some favourite items, why not ask a friend or relative to store them for a while or use a storage company while the viewings are taking place?
Clean like you've never cleaned before, and continue to do this religiously all the time your property is on the market.
2 - Finish off those odd jobs
Everyone has a list of odd jobs that need doing, be it fixing a door handle or repainting a room. Well, now is the time to get to work, as these little jobs can make all the difference to how your house looks to a potential buyer.
3 - Sort out the garden
There is nothing that sets a house off better than a nice tidy garden. Make sure that the grass is regularly cut and plants are well maintained, rubbish is cleared away, and wheelie bins are out of sight or at least lined up nicely.
If your car is parked on your drive, consider moving it up the road before the viewing takes place, as it's surprising what a difference this will make to the look of your property.
4 - Pet problems
That lovely dog you adore may not appear so nice to a visitor if it keeps barking or fills your home with a 'doggy' smell. Ask a family member or friend to take your dog for a walk while your visitors are round, and make sure any pet smells are eradicated.
5 - Lighting
It's important that you make your house as light and airy as possible.
However, having high wattage lights beaming down from the ceiling is not the best way to do this. Use lamps instead of ceiling lights, as these will give a softer light to the room, and make sure you get the maximum light from your windows by opening blinds or removing net curtains.
If you don't want to pay out for lamps, you can buy low floor standing spotlights very cheaply to light up dark corners. Why not book viewings for the time of the day when the light in your home is at its best? Usually this is during the morning and early afternoon, particularly in winter when daylight hours are already scarce.
6 - Noise
If the area in which you live is noisy at times, then book viewings at the quiet times. Rush hour traffic or children returning from school can make even the quietest neighbourhood noisy for a period, and could put off potential buyers, so avoid these times.
7 - Rooms
If you have a three bedroom house, make sure that you are using it as such. If you use one of the bedrooms as a junk room, then sort it out and return it to a bedroom. People want to easily see the configuration of a property and not have to work out the potential of each room by trying to envisage it without any clutter in the way.
8 - Quiz your estate agent
Ask your estate agent for plenty of details on your prospective buyer before they visit your property. You can then showcase your home appropriately, emphasising the elements that will appeal to your particular visitors. Check out our article "Inside the mind of an estate agent & how to play them" for more advice on how to get your agent to get the most out of your house.
9 - Have a set of property details available
Offer a set of property details to all viewers when they arrive. This will ensure that they don't overlook any of the important details of your home. They will have already received a set of details from your estate agent, but it's surprising how many people forget to bring them with them to a viewing.
10 - Conducting the viewing
It is vital that you conduct all viewings correctly, as this will make a big difference to the impression that visitors have of your property.
This is the process you should follow:
- Welcome them in. Offer them a set of details and explain that you will take them through the house showing each room in turn. You will then leave them to spend as much time as they need to look at the house on their own. Finally you will answer any questions that they may have.
- Start with the lounge, as this is the main living space and a key room.
- Next, move into the kitchen as this is the second most important room to any buyer.
- Then move through the remaining rooms downstairs starting with the biggest rooms and finishing with any storage rooms or spaces.
- Next, show all the rooms upstairs starting with the main bedroom and finishing with the bathroom and toilet.
- Finally, move to the garden and any outbuildings.
Trying to sell your property is very stressful, especially in this ultra-competitive market, but if you follow the above tips you should give yourself the best possible chance of getting that sale. You can also check out our articles "6 mistakes people make when trying to sell their property" and "5 reasons your house is not selling & what to do about it" for more advice on what to avoid, and what to do, to make your property as desirable as possible.