House selling: 7 secrets to show home success

From Lawpack's Sell your own Home Kit

Selling your house? You must have seen the makeover shows on the box? Well, it really is true: cosmetic changes to lift your home and garden can make all the difference to selling your house. Experts know that presentation speaks volumes, not least because it shows people that you made the most of living there.

Here, top Evening Standard property journalist, Anthea Masey, shares her tips on how to transform your home into a show home, without breaking the bank. 


First impressions count

Home buyers come in all guises - experienced buy-to-let landlords or first-time eager beavers - but one thing that counts for all of them is first impressions. This is where most prospective house buyers pick up on things that will influence their house buying decision.

  • Think of the first thing people will see when they are viewing your home.
  • Ask your friends for an honest assessment of your home.
  • Varnish the front door and add new door handles.
  • Tidy up the front garden and trim any hedges in view.
  • Panel fencing from DIY stores is a cheap solution for damaged fences.
  • Remove any unsightly bins on display.
  • Make sure that the hallway areas are fresh, tidy and cared for.
  • Cut back any trees that could block out light.
  • Present some stylish pots around the front door.
  • Add what agents call 'kerb appeal' by parking stylish cars outside or keeping any old bangers out of sight.
  • Draw attention to attractive features with an outdoor light or lantern.


Illusions that work

Assess what you think are the best features of your house - what you yourself loved about it and, equally, what flaws got you down while you were living there. Some things you can't physically change without extensive building or conversion work, so you'll have to play them down. By being a little creative and drawing attention to desirable features, you can disguise negative ones.

  • Create a vista, such as an appealing view, to divert away from any weak features.
  • Staircases and hallways tend to have little aesthetic appeal unless you have a grand, spiral staircase.
  • If your home is on the small side, get savvy with storage space to make it appear more spacious.
  • Hang some framed paintings to diffuse a dull hallway or uninspiring staircase.
  • Add a lick of paint to the banisters to give that brand new gleaming look.
  • Trim frayed carpet edges and cover any unsightly marks with rugs.


Get smart to status kitchens and bathrooms

Every estate agent and property developer knows that kitchens and bathrooms sell the house. Today, kitchens and bathrooms are sanctuaries to kick back from the stresses of modern living. These are the key rooms that sell a house. Many young professionals may dine out regularly, but they still rate a status kitchen and bathroom as much as young families.

  • Pay special attention to layout and spacing to allow for additional fixtures and fittings.
  • Varnish floorboards or replace tired flooring with value for money vinyl, linoleum, slate or laminate flooring for a smarter look.
  • Replace faded worktops, put in some new cupboards or add a lick of paint to the existing ones.
  • Get rid of a free-standing cooker as it screams 'dated'.
  • Place new doors on cupboards to add a new lease of life to your kitchen.
  • Avoid clutter at all costs and store appliances out of sight.
  • White is always best with chrome accessories for the bathroom.
  • Towel rails, power showers and cabinets all add extra value.
  • Add some stylish new taps to lift your bathroom with minimal fuss.
  • Paint over tired looking tiles with tile paint - it's a fast-fix solution.
  • Hide away bargain basement bottles of supermarket shampoo and bubble bath and invest in some glamorous alternatives to make attractive displays.


Neutral is the name of the game

Contemporary may be great when it's in vogue, but it doesn't last long and taste is a personal thing. Keeping a blank canvas for your décor is best, so your new house buyers can start from scratch, with nothing not to like. Your gold voile curtains or pale green walls may be to your taste, but they could be your potential house buyer's worst nightmare.

  • Keep your property classic, neutral and simple if you want a quick house sale.
  • Remember that buyers are not agents and they will not always see beyond what's right in front of them when they are looking at the potential of your property.
  • Colour schemes should be kept neutral, to prevent dating.
  • Table lamps create softer lighting than harsh wall lights, when enhancing a neutral décor.
  • Vases, flowers and photo frames on display prevent neutral rooms becoming stark and cold.
  • Touch up walls with paint and avoid wallpaper, as it will probably end up being stripped off.


Capitalising on space

  • Snappy wall units, retractable beds or attractive storage trunks or boxes can work wonders.
  • If you are selling a family home, keeping children's rooms tidy will tap into every parent's dream living space.
  • Be specific. If you have converted a fourth bedroom into a study, either sell your home as a three-bedroom property or convert it back.
  • Be clear with your house buyers and don't expect them to see the potential in conversions.
  • Probe your potential house buyers as it may give you food for thought for what future viewers will like or dislike about your property.


Zesty fresh and allergy-free

Keep your home clean and allergy-free. Not everyone is a pet lover and some people are allergic to them. Don't take a risk that could impact on your house sale.

  • Spruce up the whole house with some clean and fresh scents.
  • Litter trays, cat bowls or hamster cages should all be out of view.
  • Keep signs of pets and children invisible.
  • Ashtrays lying around are a complete no-no.
  • Replace kids' character bed linen with simple, plain-coloured ones.


Alfresco inspiration

Don't skimp with outdoor spaces. Any outdoor space will be worth its weight in gold, especially amongst city dwellers, so capitalise on making it desirable, even if it's only a courtyard or balcony. You don't need to employ an expensive landscape gardener to make your garden or balcony vibrant and low maintenance works best.

  • Replace high-maintenance perennial plants with low maintenance shrubs.
  • Hanging baskets or window box displays add effective splashes of colour.
  • Get rid of weeds with weedkiller on driveways and weed in between paving stones.
  • If you do one main job in your outdoor space, then put in a patio using some cheap, stone that looks like concrete slabs or gravel the garden for an alfresco dining area.
  • Complement a patio or concrete area with some funky foliage and/or shrubs.
  • Shine outdoor spotlights on colourful plants so your outdoor space stands out from the rest.
  • Cut back overgrown hedges.
  • Hoe unsightly lumps in grass.
  • Mow the lawn and get rid of clutter in the front garden/yard.
  • Remember that while some prospective buyers will have vision for how they want the property, they still have to live there in the meantime.

More information

  • Get all the guidance you need on selling your own home

Published on: June 2, 2008

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