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Selling houses: how to sell your property

Chiara Cavaglieri 17th Feb 2020 4 Comments

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Learning how to sell your property for the best price is not always easy, but there are various things you can do to improve the saleability of your home. The good news that a few small changes can make a big difference.

Finding out how to sell your property is an art, but anyone can learn it.


Step one: Make the most of your home’s best features

Make your home look inviting to increase the sale value

Just like when you first meet a person for the first time, you form an impression of a house within seconds, so if you’re trying to sell, make first impressions count. Your home needs to wow prospective buyers, so there are a few things you need to do to get the house ready for a sale.

First things first – How to sell your property

Make sure the garden is tidy (lawn mown and plants trimmed) 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 any further.

Repaint the front door to freshen it, remember this is something people’s eyes are drawn to instantly. Then do any rooms inside that could do with a new coat of paint.

Viewers are likely to want to touch things 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

Don’t spend too much money on a house you’re planning on selling, but do as much cosmetic work as necessary to make it look modern and inviting. Remember the new occupants are likely to put their own stamp on it, so don’t go crazy. Just do enough to sell the home.

When it comes to big jobs such as having a new kitchen or bathroom fitted, it isn’t worth spending that money. Although if this is really putting potential buyers off then you may need to re-think that strategy.

The cost of improvements really exceed the profit you make, but don’t spend money you don’t need to spend when figuring out how to sell your property. 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. So only do what’s needed.

Small things can have a big impact on how you sell your property

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 isn’t ideal, so repainting walls should give the place a facelift. Choose colours carefully; try colours that have a bit of warmth but aren’t overbearing or oppressive.

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. This may be true for some people, so do tone it down if there’s a lot, but remember it needs to look like a home, not an empty shell. No family pictures or personal affects may give it a hollow vibe which could put off people looking for their dream home.

On the other hand, make sure your property is not cluttered when people are viewing. If you’ve accumulated a lot of junk, consider having a clear out or put some of it into storage.

Here are some other 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.
  • 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.

Don’t forget to check out our guide on how to do up your house for cheap either!


Step two: Clean it till it sparkles

Clean your home to increase the sale value

This may sound obvious, but keeping everything clean can make a real difference when trying to sell your house.

  • Windows should be your priority. Cleaning them will make the outside of your house look more welcoming and the inside brighter.
  • Kitchens and bathrooms tend to sell houses, so yours should be spotless. 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 to get rid of stains and add extra shine. We have some tips on the best natural household cleaners here.
  • Be strict with yourself and de-clutter as much as possible. Throw things away, give to charity or sell junk on eBay. Things that you just can’t bear to part with can be put away neatly into storage.
  • 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, remember that you may not notice their smells because you’re used to it. Ask a trusted friend or family member if they can smell them.


Step three: Market it at the right price

Estate agents can help value your house

This sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how many people don’t get this right. They may undervalue for a quick but financially underwhelming sale, or get greedy and ask for too much. When you’re trying to sell your property you need to get the balance right.

You don’t necessarily need an estate agent to sell your home (as we explain below) but you should value their experience. 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. Remember to check Zoopla and NetHousePrices for a good average of how much homes in your area are selling for.

Some estate agents force you to remain with them for a long time in their contracts. You don’t need t agree to this. Insist on a time period of your choice or don’t use them. 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. Use their services but never cede control when discovering how to sell your property in the best way.

Hire an estate agent that you think gets you and your property, someone who knows 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

Why? Because it may not be right. They might just be telling you what you want to hear. There’s no guarantee they’ll secure that price for you. Try and find the average price and do what’s fair.

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 setting your price too high 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. Here’s a list of effective ones:

  • 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.

Such companies are serious contenders now too. 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 interest away from the other homes. 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.

You could even set up house alerts for homes in your area so you know the most recent valuations.

Remember though, other home owners can do the same to you. Don’t let it become a race to the bottom.

be prepared to bring the price down

Or take your house off the market for at least a couple of weeks before re-launching it. This can actually be a better strategy than lowering the price. It gives the market time to shuffle a bit.

Handy hints from an expert on how to sell your property

Property developer Gary McCausland has given us some great advice on how to sell your house quickly.

how does your house looks from the outside?

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.


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6 years ago

A very interesting article. I think staging can help in selling a home fast too. I’ve heard realtors sell a home at a good price after it had been staged.

6 years ago

We ripped out and replaced our kitchen before selling the house as we knew it’d increase the value. Handy tip though, buy an ex-display kitchen it’s tons cheaper! We used the used kitchen company

Vitality Mums
Vitality Mums
12 years ago

Great ideas here. I am going to keep this for future reference when I come to sell my home. The ideas here a just a good to use in my home at the moment. I am going to paint my front door black now!

paul rent my property co.
paul rent my property co.
14 years ago

great article and all very true and to the point! keep it coming!

Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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