It’s a tough time to sell homes in the UK right now and a lot of people asking “how to sell my property for the best price”
It’s not easy but there are various things you can do to improve the saleability of your home.
The good news? A few small changes to your property can make a big difference.
- Make the most of your home’s best attributes
- Give it a good old spring clean
- Price it well
- Handy hints from a property developer
Just like when you first meet a person, you form an impression of a house within seconds – so if you’re trying to sell, first impressions count!
First things first
Make sure the garden is tidy (lawn mown and plants trimmed back) and the outside of the house looks inviting. Many buyers first drive by a house before deciding whether to look inside – if it looks a mess from the outside, they probably won’t bother investigating further.
Repaint the front door and any rooms inside that could do with going over. A little redecoration can do a lot. If your carpets are looking a little tired, for example, a few new rugs can do wonders.
Viewers are likely to want to fiddle with everything to see if anything is broken, so make sure you have dealt with any minor repairs and DIY tasks like broken lights and dripping taps. Most buyers want a house that’s in good condition and which they can move into straight away.
…but don’t overspend
When it comes to big jobs such as having a new kitchen or bathroom fitted, it probably isn’t worth spending thousands of pounds fixing them up unless they’re in a really bad way. Instead make sure you give them a really good clean and don’t forget that a lick of paint can make all the difference.
The cost of improvements can easily exceed the amount of money they will bring in when you sell if you’re not careful. However much you spend on doing up your home, it’s unlikely that the improvements will raise the price more than about 20% than other comparable homes in your area.
What’s more, you don’t want to raise the price too much above other similar homes in your area anyway.
Small things can have a big impact
In terms of decoration keep everything simple and neutral. Find a balance between having too much of your own personality stamped all over your house and having no personality at all. Chipped paint or garish colours won’t do you any favours, so repainting walls should give the place a facelift. Choose colours carefully: try stone colours that have a bit of warmth but not too much character.
Lots of people advise sellers to de-personalise their house by removing family photos and children’s pictures because they can distract buyers and make it more difficult for them to imagine themselves living there. Still, remember that a home should be exactly that – a home – so removing all evidence of you living there may just result in the house seeming a bit stark.
On the other hand, make sure your property is not cluttered when people are viewing. If you’ve accumulated a lot of junk, have a clear out (or maybe put some of it into storage – we recommend Big Yellow storage solutions).
Decorating doesn’t need to be pricey. Some rearranging and a few well-placed simple accessories will help to make your house more presentable. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Large mirrors can help to enlarge a small room and they also reflect light, making a room seem brighter.
- Colourful fabrics and a few pretty cushions placed on furniture can stop a room looking bland.
- Plants can be very cheap and really effective at keeping a room fresh and adding a splash of colour.
- Rearrange furniture to create the illusion of space. If a room seems a bit cramped try moving the furniture, perhaps to a different room, or even getting rid of it completely.
- Open your curtains and blinds. This will automatically lighten a room and make it seem more cheerful.
- Check the temperature. If it’s cold put the heating on or open the windows if it’s a bit stuffy. You want to keep viewers as comfortable as possible.
What not to do
Some additions could actually reduce the value of your property and make it more difficult to sell. Do not stone-clad or pebbledash your home: value could drop by £5,000 or more. Installing modern UPVC windows in an old or period property could take off more than £10,000. Adding an extension or porch that’s badly built or not in keeping with the rest of the house can lose at least £2,000. Unfinished kitchens and bathrooms knock the price down by around £10,000. And finally, garden gnomes are an instant put-off for most potential buyers!
This may sound obvious, but it is often overlooked – and can make a real difference when trying to sell your house.
- Windows should be your first port of call. Cleaning them will make the outside of your house look more welcoming and the inside of rooms far brighter and cleaner.
- Kitchens and bathrooms tend to sell houses, so yours should be spotless – grab those Marigolds and get scrubbing! Remove any unnecessary toiletries and make sure the towels are clean and neatly arranged.
- There’s no need to buy lots of expensive cleaning products though. You can use household goods like baking soda, vinegar and an old toothbrush (plus some elbow grease) to get rid of stains and add extra shine. For example, baking powder can be mixed with water or washing-up liquid to use on bath rings and you can use vinegar to polish your chrome taps and mirrors. We have some tips on the best natural household cleaners here.
- Be strict with yourself and de-clutter as much as possible. Chuck away, give to charity or sell junk and knick-knacks on eBay. Things that you just can’t bear to part with can be put away neatly into storage units.
- Don’t bother buying an expensive new carpet to replace a dirty one. Buyers may prefer laminate flooring and you could have wasted your money. Simply giving carpets a shampoo and thorough vacuum will certainly improve their look.
- Make sure your house doesn’t smell. Nothing is more off-putting than the smell of cigarette smoke or pets as you walk in the door! A good clean should get rid of most nasty odours but fresh flowers and essential oils are great for making your house smell lovely. If you have pets pay extra attention to where they sleep and remember that you may not notice whether the house smells of your pet so ask an honest friend! If possible, give your pet to that friend while the house is being viewed.
Easy to say, I know, but if you want a quicker sale, it’s best to give it a sharp price early on…not a cheap price as you might lose out…but a realistic one. Here are a few ways to gage it right:
Get an estate agent.
You don’t necessarily need one to sell your home (as we explain below) but you may as well at least get the benefit of their experience – even if you don’t end up using them! Have one come round and give you advice on ways to improve your chances of selling.
Get three or four valuations from different estate agents to get a realistic idea of how much you can sell your house for. Tell them to be brutally honest! You might also want to pick their brains about what you could (realistically) change about your property to increase your chances of selling.
Use an estate agent signed up to the Ombudsman for Estate Agents code of practice (go to the website and type in your postcode to find a member local to you) so that you will have access to an independent complaints procedure and possible compensation.
Make sure you read the small print. Take the time to go over the agent’s contract small print carefully, as you may find yourself signed up and legally bound to stay with them for a long period of time. Insist on a time period of your choice. Some agencies also like to be the ‘sole agency’ and can charge you commission if you sell with another agency. Also if you aren’t happy with their photographs of your house, ask to have them taken again. You need to show your house in the best possible light.
Get an estate agent that you think will do justice to your home and know how to market it properly. Have a look in the estate agency windows – are they filled with properties like yours? If not, they may not be the right company for you.
Don’t be sucked in by the highest valuation an estate agent gives you.
They might just be telling you what you want to hear – there’s no guarantee they’ll secure that price for you.
If you’re unsure, have a look at how much similar properties in your area have gone for by checking out Hometrack for an independent survey of UK house prices and market trends. There’s little point having too high an asking price only to have to bring it down when it doesn’t sell. In fact it could mean it sells for less because potential buyers may see the drop in price as a sign they can get it for even less money.
use an online estate agent
You can make huge savings with online agents compared to high street ones, particularly if you’re selling in London.
- CastleSmart boasts a saving of £7,105 on a £500,000 property exclusive of VAT.
- Tepilo, one of the leading online estate agents, using their price estimate tool on an identically priced home, claimed a saving of £8,505 inclusive of VAT.
These statistics were based on an estate agent charging a 1.5% fee, though this fee is normally a starting point and liable to increase.
- Purple Bricks is aggressively advertising their services both in selling and letting. They say “Instruct us to sell for £849, £1,199 in London and surrounding areas.”
- eMoov say you can sell for £795.
- Gumtree can be really cheap – starting from free ads up to a couple of hundred pounds. Admittedly you will get lots of calls from agents but you will also get real buyers looking. If the price is right you could sell directly that way.
They’re serious contenders now too. Speaking with a Tepilo representative online revealed that 200 houses were successfully sold last month. eMoov, has reported over 5000 homes sold so far in their few short years of business.
When you think about the percentage fees that high street estate agents charge, these online costs are a massive saving.
Try to undercut properties that are similar to yours.
This takes a bit of nerve, but if you price your home at the lower end of your expectations, your home will instantly appear as being better value to buyers – and you should attract a fair amount of interest quickly (rather than have your property hang around on the market for ages). You should get at least a few bidders interested – allowing you to play them off one another. (This may well lead you to getting the price you originally envisioned, or even higher).
be prepared to bring the price down.
Take your house off the market for at least a couple of weeks before re-launching it (with a new estate agent if you feel the old one wasn’t selling it effectively).
Don’t forget neighbours and friends who can be honest with you about the problems with your property, and help you make some small changes.
Property developer Gary McCausland has given us some great advice on how to sell your house quickly.
This is one of the most important things when trying to sell – and one of the things people often overlook. Keep the front of the house tidy and clean, remove any moss or weeds from walls, clear out guttering and clean windows and windowsills.
Try painting the front door a dark black or blue.
It makes your house more likely to sell. Watch your paint colours. That vibrant red you love might be just vibrant enough to put off a potential buyer, so keep it neutral with warm off-whites to create more of a blank canvas.
Sell people a lifestyle.
People want to look at a house and imagine a particular way of life that it will encourage. Try leaving champagne bottles in the kitchen or a cocktail dress hanging in a bedroom, it may sound a little strange but viewers may see these things and imagine that buying your house will give them the kind of life that involves parties and champagne!
Point out key areas of potential.
Potential is a very important word in property so do show viewers any areas where they can expand, or ideas about how they can use particular rooms. So if you have several bedrooms you can suggest that they would be ideal for turning into a nursery or study and if there’s room for building a conservatory make sure you point it out.