Planning on putting your home on the market this spring? Give yourself plenty of time to get it up to scratch and sale-ready by starting with these eight simple steps:
1. De-clutter and de-personalise
Don't wait until move day to embark on a big clear-out. Do it before the viewings start.
And when you've given away, sold or recycled all you can, hide as much of what's left as possible. This means clearing coats and shoes from the hallway, storing everyday bathroom products in cupboards and ridding kitchen surfaces of appliances, jars and bottles.
Buyers need to be able to visualise themselves in your home, so it could be worth going one stage further and putting away personal items such as ornaments, photographs and your kids’ drawings.
2. Spruce up the decor
When your home is as empty as it can be, give it a fresh coat of neutral paint and get any dirty tiling re-grouted. If your kitchen is old, you don't necessarily need a new one. Replacing cupboard doors – or even just door handles – can make a huge difference.
Make sure all spotlights and other light bulbs are working, present the beds nicely and add some plants in bare corners for a homely feel.
A deep-clean of your home by a professional cleaning company, which tackles things like ovens, shower doors and underneath sofas, makes a huge difference – and could be cheaper than you think.
4. Don't forget the garden
A recent Zoopla poll found that more than a quarter of potential buyers would be put off by an overgrown garden, so make sure yours is pruned front and back. Position a table and chairs in a spot where buyers could imagine having a morning coffee.
5. Sacrifice your parking space
If your home comes with an allocated parking space, leave it free for prospective buyers to use. It’s convenient and offers an experience that's closer to the reality of what it's like to live in your home.
6. Hire the right estate agent
When it comes to getting the right sale price for your property, it’s a good idea to ask several agents. But don’t automatically plump for the one who gives you the highest valuation.
Make sure they are knowledgeable, locally active and you have a good rapport with them.
Agents will have different tie-in periods, some as long as 12 weeks, during which time you won’t be able to list your home anywhere else. Be ready to negotiate and do what it right for you.
It’s cheaper to sell sole-agency rather than multi-agency, so I recommend staying with one agent for the first four weeks. This will give them opportunity and motivation to sell your property fast. Then, if you're not happy, you can move on to other agents.
Always try to negotiate on agents’ fees and have the final fee agreed in writing so you understand how much you will owe.
7. Get on top of your paperwork
Instruct a solicitor to kick off the conveyancing process early. Ask them to break down and fully explain all costs associated with selling and, if you can, get a fixed upfront fee for their services.
Check with your mortgage lender if you can transfer the same deal to a new property, or if any redemption charges will apply.
Gather all the paperwork on your current property together, such as building certificates for any structural work and guarantees for double glazing, boilers or fireplaces.
8. Be smart on viewings
When it comes to viewings on your home, it’s always best to get an agent to do it as they know their job. And, as the owner, you should ideally vacate.
If you must conduct viewings yourself, have a plan of the order in which you'll show the rooms. The best ones should be first or last. Be impartial and ready for any questions.