Definitive Guide:
How To Prepare Your Home For Sale

Get a better sale price in less time!

2018 update

Keep reading to discover…
  • How to quickly (and cheaply) increase the value of you home
  • How to make buyers fall in love with your home
  • How to encourage a faster sale
  • And lots more…

 



Is it worth it?

Definitely!

If you spend a little time getting your home ready to sell, you’ll be rewarded with a faster sale and a higher sale price.

Presentation is is often the difference between:

a). The house that sits unsold until you’re forced to reduce it’s asking price.

b). The house that sells almost immediately for the full price.

It really is that simple.

Pro Tip: If you need your home to sell quickly, it needs to present just as well as (if not better than) the competition and remain competitively priced.

Here’s the winning formula:

Competitive asking price Good presentationA quick sale

Your goal

The old saying, “the customer is always right” is worth bearing in mind when getting ready to sell.

The customers are your potential buyers and what they all want is this:

A tidy, well-ordered house, filled with light, space & storage

How to get you house ready to sell (9 simple steps)

To make your home immediately appealing to buyers, you don’t need a full-blown makeover (or to spend lots of money).

The really important things to get right just take a little time, effort and the ability to start thinking about your house as a ‘commodity to be sold’. Not a home filled with memories and emotional ties.

#1. Clean deeply

  • From top to bottom, inside and out.
  • Then do your best to keep it clean and tidy until sold.
  • Cleaning costs nothing but if the carpets and curtains could do with a professional deep clean, it’s well worth the money.
  • Cleaning your house is possibly the biggest chore you’ll face when selling, lots of people do it half-heartedly – all the better for you!
  • If your house stands head and shoulders above your competition, you’ll sell faster and get more interest.

#2. De-clutter

  • Get rid of the clutter and your house will look bigger.
  • It will feel to buyers like a tidy, well-ordered place to live – Just what they want!
  • What’s more, de-cluttering your house is a cathartic experience.
  • It is one of the best ways to mentally prepare for your move.

The act of de-cluttering helps you to:

  1. Start looking at your house as a commodity for sale (essential if you are to make sound, businesslike decisions).
  2. Manage the emotional bond with your house that in extreme cases can cloud ones judgment and stop you from selling fast.
  3. Focus on the new life you’ll create when you move.

Unless experienced first hand, this emotional side of selling is easy to underestimate.

Don’t be surprised if at first you find de-cluttering tough.

We would urge you to persevere because you’ll be rewarded with more money in your pocket and less worry on your mind.

  • Throw away (or donate) as much as possible and then throw away some more.
  • After this, look again at your cupboards and other storage areas – Are they full to bursting?
  • If they are, you need to consider thinning down your house further (possibly even consider renting a personal self-storage unit).
  • Ideally, cupboards and storage areas should not be more than 75% full.
  • Serious buyers will look inside your cupboards. If there isn’t enough storage for you, they’ll assume there isn’t enough for them.
  • Don’t let buyers pass on your house because of this!

Recommended guru: Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tiding Up

#3. Fix anything broken

It’s really important to finish any DIY and catch-up on routine maintenance.

  • A well maintained house screams out that it’s ‘well cared for’ (a desirable attribute that buyers will pick-up on).
  • Buyers mentally reduce the max offer they’d make on your house every time they see a problem that needs fixing.
  • They rarely just reduce their offer by the cost of the repair…
  • They also price-in the additional hassle-factor of getting the work done. Or simple overestimate the costs!
  • Bodged (or unfinished) DIY projects need to be made good (preferably by a professional).

#4. Make a good 1st impression

1st impressions really do count and buyer’s are judging your home well before they step over the threshold.

Your house may be stunning inside, but if the outside doesn’t look great you jeopardise your sale.

Look at your property from the road? How does it compare to other houses in your street?

As you walk from the pavement to your front door, does every element of your property look cared for and well maintained?

#5. Depersonalise

This is one of the secrets behind why house builder show homes are such effective sales tools.

It’s a very powerful selling tip.

Buyers will fall in love with your house when they can imagine themselves living there…

When they can imagine your ‘house’ as their ‘home’.

It can’t be done with evidence of you or your family everywhere.

That’s why show homes are always anonymous. You’ll never see a family portrait or anything personal.

To make your house look lived-in without looking like anyone actually lives there, pack away into storage:

  • All family photos
  • Holiday souvenirs
  • Trophies & certificates
  • Collectible items
  • Children’s artwork

Buyers do not want to buy your home – They want to buy your house and then make it their home!

#6. Go neutral

This continues the idea of ‘depersonalising‘ your house.

  • Colour is a personal thing – one person’s harmonious colour scheme is another’s crime against humanity.
  • Don’t let differences in personal taste affect your sale. Take colour out of the equation all together.
  • It’s cheap to do, just paint your walls a neutral colour (something like Timeless from Dulux works well).
  • Repainting boldly coloured or highly individualised interiors to something blander is the most cost-effective way to add value to your property.
  • Rooms will immediately appear bigger and brighter (major selling points).
  • You’ll also create a blank canvas which helps buyers to project positive visions of what their life could be like in the house – part of the process of ‘falling for’ a property.

#7. Define the use of each room

While living in a house the use of certain rooms can become blurred over time, for example:

  • The lounge becomes part office.
  • The spare bedroom becomes a storage room.
  • The dinning room becomes the kids play area.

If this has happened in your house, think about converting these rooms back to their original use.

This makes sound financial sense and helps you sell for more because certain rooms hold a greater perceived value than others, for example:

  • Buyers perceive bedrooms to be worth more than offices.
  • Buyers perceive dinning rooms to be worth more than playrooms.
  • This is now also a good opportunity to make your house look bigger.

Remove all the furniture (and other items) that isn’t essential to the function of the room.

This will free up a lot of valuable floor space.

Pro tip: If possible, it may be useful to visit a ‘show home’ or two.

You’ll see for yourself the minimum amount of furniture needed to define the use of a room.

Aim for this because at the end of the day, space sells!

More: Room-by-room home staging guide

#8. Eliminate bad odours

The following all produce odours that are a major turn-off for buyers:

  • Cooking
  • Smoking
  • Pets
  • Damp
  • Blocked drains
  • Full bins

Tip: For instructions on how to get rid of these smells, see: How to deodorise a room (Wikihow)

On the flip side of this coin, pleasant odours can enhance the appeal of your property.

We would stop short of the common clichés of baking bread bread or brewing coffee before each viewing.

Instead, consider introducing fresh flowers or a single sent across the home (either by candle or reed diffuser).

Good choices of sent are:

  • orange
  • lemon
  • jasmin
  • cedar
  • pine
  • vanilla
  • cinnamon

Finally, don’t forget to air your house often while it’s on the market.

#9. Get creative

The 8 steps above will make sure your house is saleable however, if you want to go further and get creative, you need to understand an important concept:

Buyers are not looking to buy property! What they’re really looking to buy is a better life (property just happens to be the way they’ll get it).

For the presentation of your house to really attract buyers (and the highest offers), you need to make buyers want what you’ve got – give them a glimpse of a better life.

More: Room-by-room home staging guide

Should I fix up my home or sell it as is?

TV programs about property make great entertainment but few are truly educational.

The problem with many is that they ‘over-egg’ the myth that any:

  • Modernisation
  • Renovation
  • Decoration
  • Restoration

….Will automatically add £££’s on to the price you sell your house for.

This myth has led many homeowners to choose unprofitable home improvement projects.

We won’t let that happen to you.

Improvements that DON’T make sense

Think carefully before replacing your:

  • Kitchens
  • Bathrooms-suites
  • Double glazing

Or installing:

  • Decking
  • A conservatory

These are not automatic profit making projects.

They may well make selling a house easier but after fitting costs, you’re lucky to re-coup even 90% of the money you spent.

Most buyers want to stamp their own taste and personality onto the property they buy.

Save your money and give buyers the opportunity to do that.

Read: The ultimate guide to adding value to our home 

Improvements that DO make sense

The home improvement projects that make real money take an average of 4 – 8 months to complete.

If you’re planning on selling within the next 6 months, it’s best to put ideas of basement and loft conversions etc. to one side.

Save them for your next property and instead:

Make sure the condition of your house can’t be used against you (i.e. remove an excuse for a buyer to renegotiate on your price).

We say this because when you’re selling a house, renegotiation starts when buyers find faults in the building survey.

You have a problem if the building survey finds that:

  • The electrics are past their best
  • The roof leaks
  • The gutters are rusted through
  • The plumbing should be in a museum
  • The floorboards feel spongy of fragile (probably woodworm)
  • You live ‘inner-city’ without an alarm system
  • You don’t have central heating

These kinds of essentials are best to get sorted before you go to market.

Pro tip: If you decide not to fix these things, at least get quotes for the work needed.

That way, when the buyer tries to negotiate you know exactly what a fair price reduction would be (and can show proof).

How to avoid wasting money

Follow this rule of thumb if you’re selling within the next 6 months…

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Instead…

…Just present what you have, as well as you can.

In other words, unless a room or element (e.g. carpet) of your house is:

  • Deeply unattractive
  • In total disrepair
  • Unsanitary

Don’t bother spending any money replacing it and if you do have to spend, don’t overspend.

Spend just enough to bring your whole house up to a reasonable (and consistent) standard (i.e. all the house looks good, not just a few rooms).

Pro tip: Selling well is all about meeting buyers’ expectations so take a peek at your competition (i.e. houses like yours currently for sale) if you’re unsure what ‘reasonable’ looks like.

After all, that’s what your buyers are doing.

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Gavin Brazg

Gavin Brazg

MSc Dip Arch

Founder & CEO

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Gavin Brazg

Gavin Brazg

Founder & CEO

Hi, I'm Gavin Brazg and I'm NOT an estate agent. However, I am a serial property seller, and if you're selling your home we're kindred spirits... Read more

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