That really depends on how much needs doing.
If the house has any defects such as a leaking roof, cracked or bowing walls, rotten timbers, or damp, they will have a negative impact on its value and should be tackled first. Next up are necessities like renewing the electrical wiring and installing central heating and double glazing. Underfloor heating is a popular and luxurious choice for its energy efficiency, comfort, hygiene and aesthetics.
Are you happy with the layout of the house? Are you considering taking a wall out to create a modern open or ‘zoned’ living space, or indeed putting a wall in to give a space a specific purpose, such as a play room or snug? If so, that should be done before any cosmetic work.
If you want to add space, well executed extensions and loft conversions are thought to add an average of around 10% to the value of a property while a good quality conservatory should add around 5% and a downstairs toilet is a convenient touch that adds appeal.
If the structure is sound and you’re happy with the layout and space, then a new kitchen could be the way to create the ‘wow factor’ you’re looking for. An elegant, stylish and well-designed kitchen with luxurious touches such as good quality integrated appliances, handsome surfaces and mood lighting can make a massive difference to a property and increase its value by as much as 6%.
Opt for stylish white suites in bathrooms with ‘his and hers’ areas/basins if possible. Team up the white suite with some lovely porcelain or natural tiles, or perhaps some of the striking wall panels now available for extra impact.
New kitchens and bathrooms are costly improvements so if you’re not looking to go that far, a simple re-decoration can often make a huge difference. Couple a fresh lick of paint with new carpets or flooring to make a room look and feel brand new, and add some extra pizzazz with bright new cushions, pictures and finishing touches.
Even a de-clutter and tidy up can make a house and garden feel fresher and bigger. It can be really difficult when it’s your own home so pretend you’re visiting and try to look at things from a different perspective. Just removing the bin that’s always lived in the corner of the room or the vase of silk flowers that live in the fireplace can make a difference. Give it a try and I bet you see things that normally pass you by, just because you’re used to them being there.
Our cold, wet winters brings their own set of issues to consider when preparing a home for viewings, so we have compiled a ‘Top 10’ to help sellers make the most of their home for a sale this season:
1. Make sure all the curtains and blinds are open to allow in as much light as possible and try to arrange viewings in daylight hours rather than in the dark – take advantage of your agent providing accompanied viewings, especially if you’re out at work during the day.
2. Turn all the lights on for viewings - even in cupboards and garages - and make sure you have a stock of bulbs so they can be immediately replaced. If you have garden lighting, switch it on at dusk for a welcoming glow and so the ‘For Sale’ sign is easy for passers-by to see.
3. Make sure there is parking close by – potential buyers won’t want to walk any further than they have to in the cold weather!
4. Make sure hallways and entrances in particular are kept clean and tidy – put away the family’s winter coats, scarves, hats and gloves, provide a rug or seat for viewers to easily wipe or remove their shoes and boots and keep the floor clean from any mud or residue from wet shoes.
5. Windows are mostly left closed when it’s cold, which allows odours to develop and linger more easily, so try to restrict pets to certain rooms, avoid cooking dishes such as fish the day before a viewing and clean more often as dust settles more quickly. It may sound like a cliché but the smell of bread baking or a stew cooking is lovely and fresh flowers or plants can add colour as well as a wonderful scent.
6. Maintain a comfortable indoor temperature – not too hot as buyers are likely to keep their coats on during viewings. If you have an open fire, light it for a warm, welcoming feel. Empty properties can become prone to condensation mould and burst pipes at this time of year so an amount of heat and ventilation is paramount; clean out and keep clear any corners or alcoves showing signs of condensation mould to allow it to dry properly.
7. Offer potential buyers a warm drink – this encourages them to stay for longer, makes them feel comfortable, particularly on a cold day, and allows them to get a real feel for the property.
8. Keep gardens tidy, make sure paths and steps are kept clear of snow and ice for easy entry and keep paths, patios, greenhouses and decking clear of green algae and moss, which can build up at this time of year. Also, repair any storm or weather damage as soon as possible
And make the most of time spent indoors on cold, wet days:
9. De-clutter to make your home feel bigger. Box up some of your favourite knick-knacks and either give old items to charity or make extra money by selling unwanted items in the local newspaper, by auction or on classifieds web sites such as Gumtree or Preloved
10. And do some easy DIY jobs - give tired rooms a new lease of life with a lick of paint or replace mouldy old sealant in kitchens or bathrooms for those all-important fresh finishing touches.
Ok, so you’ll probably have a clear idea of what you want – both in terms of absolute must-have’s, such as the number of bedrooms, outdoor space, location or price, and features you’d like but aren’t absolutely necessary, such as a certain style of property or a separate dining room, etc.
You might want to think about the time of day that you view. For example, if the property is near a school, you might want to avoid break times due to the noise or by the same token, you might specifically want to go at those times so you can hear just how noisy it is. If the property is on a main road, you might want to arrange the appointment for the middle of the day when traffic volumes are lower.
Once you arrive, take a good look at the outside of the property. Do the windows, guttering, brickwork/render and roof appear to be in a good state of repair?
Inside, mould and blown plaster, particularly under windows and on or close to ceilings, should be noted as possible signs of damp or leaks. Are there any smells? Look at the electrical sockets and switches as well as the fuse board if you can – are they aged or does it all look sound? Depending on the age of the house, tiny holes in floor boards or other timbers on close inspection could be a sign of woodworm...
All of this can of course be remedied – either quickly and relatively cheaply or at a higher cost, depending on the extent of the work needed, which will become more clear with a survey. The estate agent should have copies of any guarantees and inspection reports, has a legal obligation to disclose any known problems, and will have taken the condition of the house and its fittings into account for the valuation.
It sounds as though you need to de-clutter, and there are two main reasons for this – firstly, to make your home as tidy and presentable as possible for photography and viewings and secondly, so your actual move is both less costly and less stressful!
First impressions really do count so creating a neat and tidy home without clutter is one of the quickest and most effective ways of making a positive impact on the way your home looks and feels to prospective buyers. And whether you’ll be employing the services of a removals firm or hiring a van and moving yourself, the process will cost less and take less time and effort if you have fewer belongings.
Sorting through and getting rid of stuff takes a while so start in the primary rooms and remember the term ‘use it, love it or bin it’. Try to be ruthless - items you’ve accumulated that either no longer relate to your present lifestyle or your future aspirations, or hold no sentimental value need getting rid of - clothes that no longer fit, books you’ve already read, kitchen gadgets you have never used, etc - and moving home provides the perfect opportunity to have a really good clear-out.
All too often, our idea of having a good tidy up simply means putting stuff out of sight – in the loft, the under stairs cupboard or the garden shed for example, and that’s really just shifting the problem. Remember, serious buyers are going to want to look in cupboards and the last thing you want is a load of stuff falling out on them!
Nowadays, the tip isn’t the only place for unwanted items – let’s face it, if you were holding onto this stuff it’s obviously got life left in it, so try holding a stall at your local car boot sale or selling things online on sites such as ebay, Preloved and Gumtree. If you use Facebook, search for a local ‘Bargains’ page where people buy and sell things. Other options include giving certain items to friends or family members who will make use of them, and of course charity donations.
In practice, removing clutter and not allowing it to build up again is really nothing more than learning a new habit - it is even claimed that de-cluttering is good for the psyche. You may well make a tidy sum from your so-called ‘clutter’. Having done it, many say they wonder why they ever hung on to so much stuff in the first place!
With temperatures dropping further with every passing day, this is the time to check that your property is ready for the onset of autumn and the impending arrival of winter.
Everyone’s immediate priority for as far as autumn and winter property maintenance should be their heating system. Don’t wait until it’s needed - test it now to get a jump on any repairs it might require before the cold weather hits.
Your second priority should be insulation - there’s no point ensuring the heating system works if the heat escapes immediately.
The front and back gardens shouldn’t be neglected, even though the cold temperatures will restrict the growth of plants and shrubs.
The exteriors of the property are its first line of defence against the cold and bad weather. It’s therefore vital to ensure that they are all as robust as possible before winter sets in.
As the water circulating through the plumbing system gets colder, it can freeze inside the pipes, which naturally causes a lot of issues.
Robert Williams Estate Agents, 2 Southernhay West, Exeter, EX1 1JG
Tel: 01392 204800 | Sales: firstname.lastname@example.org Lettings: email@example.com