Get yourself sale-ready! Preparing your home to go on the market

Jo Hetherington gives some top tips for putting yourself in the best possible position when selling your home

When you are preparing to put your property on the market it is really important to take some time to get your paperwork in order, to sort out the garden as well as the house itself and to finish all those little jobs on your ‘To Do’ list, especially if you want to find a buyer for the best possible price in the shortest possible time.

As agents, we used to be able to discuss and sell the benefits of our new instructions to an exhaustive list of prospective buyers before photos and details had even been prepared, because everyone would register with all the local agencies the moment they decided to look for a new home. Now we often hear from new applicants after they have done their research on the web, when they ring up to view a specific property. With your ‘first viewing’ online, a poor impression can instantly rule your property out even if it actually ticks all the right boxes compared with other properties in the same price range.

We pay for professional photography to ensure the best possible impression online but we also need you to do your bit by de-cluttering and (to a reasonable extent) de-personalising your home. That half-finished decorating project, the falling-down fence and spare room full of junk are obvious musts for a successful early sale but beyond this it is important to present a neutral personality with a proper sense of functional space throughout.

Ensure each room is presented to its best advantage - get a few rolls of wallpaper and borrow a cot or a desk to re-model that junk room into a practical living space, for example.  Put all those family photographs, plastic toys and teddy bears into storage, minimise the clutter on kitchen surfaces and clear the dining table loaded with paperwork. Accumulation of ‘stuff’ is part of every day life and an expression of personality but it’s important not to hamper your viewers’ ability to imagine your house as their home.

No one is expecting perfection – you still have to live, of course - but a lack of basic tidiness and cleanliness is off-putting to prospective buyers so make time to do the washing up, hoover up the pet hairs, empty litter trays and pooper-scoop the garden, clean the loos and bleach the sinks, especially before you leave the house for the day. Much as we always try to give our vendors at least twenty-four hours’ notice, you never know when your buyer may walk through our door and we don’t want to delay a viewing just because you haven’t made the beds that morning!   

If you do not have a spare set of keys it’s worth getting another set cut in advance. Keys are always tagged up and locked away shortly in our offices so will be perfectly safe – likewise, we can manage alarms and keep pets safely shut in, of course. However, if your viewer is not an animal lover (or worse, allergic!) then the presence of Tiddles or Rover can put off a potential buyer so it’s worth asking a neighbour if they can look after your pet during a viewing and a good opportunity to take the dog out for a walk, anyway!

To prove that we have taken all necessary steps to ascertain the correct information relating to your property there are various legal requirements to fulfil, too, prior to marketing. As dictated by HMRC, the most important is to provide original photo evidence of your ID, usually a passport or driving licence. We also require supporting evidence that you own the property - something showing the address in your name, dated within two months of signing the terms of business, such as a council tax demand, bank statement or recent utility bill.  Similarly, we must have ordered your Energy Performance Certificate and you will also need to fill in a ‘Fact Find’ questionnaire giving basic information about the property, supported by relevant certificates regarding heating, plumbing and windows for example, proof of building regulation inspections and planning permissions, which solicitors will require anyway when a sale is agreed.  

Finally, we need to have written confirmation from you (either a signed and dated set of details or an e-mail) approving the content of our particulars before we can release the brochure, so it is really important to keep an eye out for this and to deal with it promptly.  Knowing what to expect and getting everything ready in advance will enable us to find your perfect buyer as soon as possible and save you considerable stress down the line!

To speak to Jo, telephone 01451 822977 or e-mail jo@harrisonjameshardie.co.uk