We spoke to Alicia Lindsay, a Director of Residential Property at Savills, and asked for her expert advice on increasing your home’s saleability and making it irresistible to buyers.
“I sell properties from anywhere between £200,000 up to £20 million,” Alicia says, “but no matter what your budget is, you don’t need have to spend thousands to make your property ready for sale. There are plenty of simple, very affordable things you can to increase saleability and make your home stand out to potential buyers. Make an effort, and you’ll be surprised what you get back.”
If your home is on the market or you’re thinking of selling in the near future, there’s two things you’re going to want: to get as much money for it as possible, and for it to sell quickly.
Preparing your home for viewers – or ‘staging’ – as well as for the photographer who comes to take photos of your property before it goes on the market, plays a vital part in both of those things.
These are Alicia’s simple saleability secrets…
Making sure somewhere is clean and tidy is one of the most important things you can do. Take the time to properly tidy away all of your stuff, particularly if you’ve got a one-bed or a studio where you haven’t got much space anyway, and clutter is going to make it feel ten times smaller as well as distract the viewer. Places that clients often overlook are toiletries in the bathroom and cereal boxes on top of kitchen cabinets.
Similarly, remember that buyers like to envisage themselves and their possessions in a home and if there’s too many of your personal items lying around – even if you don’t consider it ‘clutter’ – it’ll make it more difficult for them to do so. Buyers are also nosey, and you don’t want to steer their attention away from your property. Don’t go overboard to the point your home looks sterile and uninviting, but just keep it minimal, warm and cosy.
Doll the place up
In the same vein, think about quick and affordable additions that will help make a good first impression. For example, never underestimate the power of a pretty bunch of flowers in a nice vase – same goes for house plants, or even artificial plants and flowers. Think about updating soft furnishings that may look old or tatty, like a new bath mat or cushion covers.
Similarly, make sure to make the bed properly. It’s my pet hate when a photographer comes to photograph someone’s home, or viewers come round, and the beds look messy, the pillows are crumpled or the sheets aren’t tucked in properly. I’m always amazed at how many people forget to do this.
Make sure it smells like heaven
This is so simple but easy to forget. I’ve gone into properties that stink and if I want to get out immediately, your potential buyer isn’t going to hang around either. Buy plug-ins, room sprays or scented candles so that when they walk in, your home smells nice.
Do those repairs
If something like a drawer, cabinet or door has been broken for a while and you’ve maybe been putting off fixing it, it’s easy to forget about but can seriously devalue your property. I always encourage repairing broken fixtures or appliances, because then buyers won’t be able to say: “Everything needs repairing, so I want to take £20,000 off”, when the repairs would only cost you £300, for example.
Work on your kerb appeal
Your home’s exterior is the first thing people see, and it’s your first opportunity to make a good impression. Check your front door – and the garage door if you have one – and if it’s not in tip-top shape, give it a fresh lick of paint. You don’t have to get Farrow Ball, just buy some cheap paint and do it yourself. Don’t forget to look down, too. I recently noticed that the wooden panel on the bottom of my front door where you step in was white and very grotty, so I painted it black. So simple, but made it look so much smarter.
Don’t neglect the garden
If you’ve got outside space, take the time to make it look presentable. Cut the grass, blow the leaves, fix up any broken fences or cracked decking. If you can’t afford to replace the decking, a cheap way to refresh it is with paint – literally, just paint over the cracks.
If your garden isn’t landscaped, it’s going to cost thousands to start landscaping it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get in a cheap gardener. I saw a client last week with a £5 million house but the garden was a complete mess. Your garden is an extension of your house and potential buyers will think, ‘Well, if they haven’t looked after the garden, they probably haven’t looked after the house either.’ Again, they’ll start to add up how much they’re going to reduce their offer by. Don’t give them the opportunity.
Ditch single beds
If you’ve got a bedroom that is considerably smaller than the others, particularly in a two-bed property, think about ways to give it more space by, for example, taking out bulky cupboards or wardrobes. If you can only fit a single bed in there, do everything you can to fit in a bigger bed. Buyers can’t see beyond those and they think, ‘There’s no way I can fit a bigger bed in here’ or ‘this bedroom is way too small’ – and that’s a surefire way to put people off.
Lighting plays a huge part in making a home attractive. It sounds simple, but check your bulbs – I once showed a property where none of the lights worked, so I had to go around the house with a torch! If you go into an apartment or a house and the lights aren’t working, especially in the winter, then people think it’s a dark property and that’s a huge turn-off.
Similarly, check your windows. I had one client who had a £2.5 million house with a skylight that was totally black and had never been changed. It cost her around £2,000 to replace it and it brought so much light though the whole house that, in the end, it probably added about £50,000 to the property. Make sure all your windows are sparkling clean to really light up the property, and so that buyers don’t see dirty windows and immediately think ‘pollution’.
Give your kitchen a makeover
It’s the most valuable room in your house, so giving your kitchen some attention will pay off. You don’t necessarily have to replace the whole thing (which can be costly), but something as simple as painting the cabinets or replacing the drawer handles can work wonders.
For the viewing, make sure to declutter and hide away any bulky appliances to make the room look bigger. Look at smaller details too, like really getting the grouting sparkling clean – the HG Mould Remover Spray brings up the grouting really white.
Saying that, if you do have the money for a new kitchen, it may well be worth it. 10 years ago when I moved into where I live now, I bought a new kitchen cheaply with Howdens, put in cheap IKEA wooden flooring and whitewashed the walls, and within three months I’d added £200,000 onto the value of the property. It totally depends on your budget.
Consider planning permission
Planning is not for the fainthearted, but it is an amazing way to add value. You’ve got to get the right architect and the right planning consultant who you can tell you if they think what you want to do will get approved by the council. If you can add value to a property by adding extra space it’s certainly worth having that conversation. It’s a lot of work, especially if you have a full-time job, but if you want to make money from a property it’s something worth considering.