If you haven't yet considered how to present your home for sale, you're not really ready to sell. It may have all the elements for a successful and maybe even speedy sale: a great location, good transport links, spacious rooms, a garden. And yet, if it's not presented properly, it might not shift as quickly as you'd like or for the best price.
Or, perhaps your house has been on the market for a while or you're getting lower offers than you'd like – and your estate agent has suggested that it needs to be better presented?
In either case, you need to look at the house with a potential buyer's eyes – does the house look cosy – or cluttered? Tidy and airy, or soulless and empty? If your answers tend towards the negatives, it's time to rethink how to present your home for sale, with the help of these handy tips.
Find more tips and advice on buying, selling and renting on our property hub page. Read our tips on what to look for when viewing a property to help with your own purchase – and to see what your viewers might be looking for.
1. Do essential repairs
Your home will be difficult to sell if your front gate is half-on, half-off its hinges. Equally, if guttering is hanging precariously from its fixings, there are slipped tiles on the roof, the kitchen taps don't work (and so on...), viewers will be put off immediately – or, if they're savvy buyers, will put in a lower offer.
Don't think for a minute that people won't, both in your absence and while you're there, turn on taps, flush loos, look at the boiler, open cupboards (and so on...), so if there's anything obviously faulty, mend it.
2. Make sure it's tidy for every viewing
This may sound like an obvious point, but it's difficult to overstate the importance of first impressions. Even if the buyer knows you're taking all your furniture with you, and even if the home will be professionally cleaned before they move in, viewing a property that's untidy – or, worse, not clean – is an instant turn-off. Not good at cleaning? Get a professional clean done before the viewings commence; ensure the bedroom is tidy with the bed properly made; the kitchen absolutely shouldn't have any dishes in the sink.
And, if your carpets have seen better days, they're possibly a little smelly as well, so give them a refresh before your viewings start. Find out easy ways to clean carpets with our guide.
3. Air the rooms before viewings
No one likes to walk into a bedroom that someone else vacated with their morning breath just an hour or so before... so before you go to work, leaving the estate agent to show your house just after you've departed, open the windows for 10 minutes to help the rooms feel fresher. If it's a hot day anyway, and you'll be around, leaving doors and windows open so that the house feels cool and, better still, connected to the garden, is a real bonus.
4. Make sure the family goes out
It's hard to view a home properly with distractions – and a little intimidating to view a room that's occupied by your family or that's over-run with children and their toys (and possibly their blaring television). So, if you're doing the viewing, make sure you ask your other half to take the children out, or fix play dates. Worse comes to worse, bribe the children to sit quietly at the kitchen table with colouring/homework/screens.
And while we're talking family, removing a few of your family pictures and photos from the house isn't a bad idea. Depersonalising your space will help your buyer's imagine themselves living in your house – not you.
5. The same goes for the dog...
Got pets? It will be best if they (and their toys and bowls) are not around while people are viewing your home. This applies even if your prospective buyers are pet lovers themselves; their own dog's mess may be endearing to them, but not yours. And you probably can't smell their endearing doggy aroma, but your viewers will, so ensure the house is doubly aired and invest in an air freshener (see our pick of the best) to keep the house smelling non-dog.
6. Tidy the garden
If you are selling a home with a garden, give it a thorough tidy-up. Even though gardens are an attractive feature to buyers, a scruffy garden will look like a liability, requiring lots of work and expense from the buyer. So, hire a gardener if you must, or put in a couple of weekends' work weeding, pruning, and trimming.
Putting pots of flowers on the patio will create a bright view at the back, and placing them either side of the front door will add to your home's kerb appeal, too.
7. Make your rooms' purposes obvious
Got a room full of boxes or one that's used by the family for everything from gaming to dining? Or maybe all your rooms are a little chaotic (we're with you, family life and all that).
Stick the boxes in storage and clutter out of sight while you're trying to sell, and give the room a proper, very obvious use that might appeal to buyers – perhaps a family dining room, a home office, an extra bedroom, a TV room... How you repurpose the room really depends on the type of house you have and what might already be lacking. Second reception room amiss? A TV room would seem useful to buyers, for example.
8. Dress the rooms appealingly
We're not talking a whole new decorative scheme here, since most homes that are sold will be redecorated fairly quickly by their new owners who want to put their stamp on them. However, a dated, brightly coloured sofa you loved 10 years ago but will replace when you move will look smarter with a neutral throw over it; a smart bed throw can quickly disguise crumpled bedlinen; a table cloth and a vase of flowers can make a dining area look neater and more welcoming... you get the drift.
At the other end of the spectrum, if you're selling an investment property or one you've already moved out of, you'll need to ensure it doesn't look sterile or uninviting to the point where prospective buyers just can't imagine living there.
So, as a bare minimum, furnish the bedroom and living room – expensive furniture is not necessary, just create the look of a real room. A kitchen or dining table and a couple of chairs will help make the kitchen look more appealing.
9. Redecorate rooms that really need it
If you're living with decor that you love but that's perhaps very bold, bright or very dark, you might have to face the fact that it's not to everyone's taste and paint it in a light, neutral shade. The upside, lighter, plainer colours may bore you but they will appeal to a wider audience and make your rooms look bigger and brighter.
10. Cheat your way to bigger, brighter rooms
If your rooms are north-facing or a little dark or cramped, making them look as big as possible with light paint colours or accessories is an easy win. And you can heighten the effect by hanging mirrors – replacing some of your own pictures and artwork with mirrors is a good option.