Many homeowners traditionally wait until spring to list a property for sale so this can be the most competitive time of year to try and seal the best deal.
To minimise the risk of being left on the shelf, a property needs to substantially out-perform the level of interest in similar homes in your local area during the first three weeks of being listed, according to recent research by Rightmove. The average time it takes to sell in London is now 59 days, and 65 days across the UK.
So, how do you make sure your property stands out from the rest?
Top tips to make your home instantly appeal to buyers
Top tips to make your home instantly appeal to buyers
1/15 Get those odd jobs sorted (finally!)
Repaint blemishes and damp patches, filling any little cracks. But not big cracks, these need to be reported on or repaired to give reassurance to the buyer.
Change and replace all light bulbs to make sure your home is as bright as possible. Soft white light is the most flattering.
2/15 Spend wisely
“Selling a home is an important milestone, but can often result for a large bill in renovations and changes to prepare for the potential buyers," says e Moov founder Russell Quirk. "An expensive renovation may not always return value in terms of asking price. However, affordable tips and small changes can have impressive results."
Focus on the kitchen and living area - make it homely but uncluttered. This enables you to open up space and showcase your home's best features.
Remember not to remove traces of character altogether – thoughtful splashes of colour and a few well-chosen soft furnishings can make a property feel more stylish and individual. Help prospective buyers imagine where their furniture and family pictures will go.
Demonstrating your home has adequate storage is crucial. Prospective buyers always want to check inside cupboards: if they’re packed full, empty them out and throw away everything you don’t need.
Alamy Stock Photo
6/15 Clean, clean and clean some more
First impressions count. Get the windows professionally cleaned, wash the front door and replace the worn-out door mat.
7/15 Clean, clean and clean some more
Eliminate anything that smells! Ban the cat and don’t cook anything with a lingering smell or smoke in the house.
If you have a dog, send him or her to the dog groomer's for a professional clean. A house that smells of pets can be a real turn-off for some viewers. Washing the dog's bed is a good idea, too.
8/15 Create an extra room
The garden is one of the most important features of a UK property, especially in cities where outside space can be a rare luxury.
Creating or reinstating a dedicated BBQ area can be effective as buyers love to see how a garden could work socially.
9/15 Get your online profile right
Arrange for the photographer to come on a bright day to make the most of your home.
Add personal information to the online description to give potential viewers an insight into what you love about your home.
10/15 List your home for the right price
"Some sellers may have thought there is no price to pay by starting high and reducing the asking price later," says Rightmove director Miles Shipside. "However, over-pricing loses you that vital initial interest and impetus, and buyers often have reservations about a property that has not sold as quickly as others, or has had a price reduction.”
Shutterstock / Brian A Jackson
11/15 Vital information for a seller to have when hosting buyers
Parks close by are a major bonus, especially if you don’t have a garden and the propspective buyer has children
12/15 Vital information for a seller to have when hosting buyers
What are the local supermarkets, gyms, yoga studios, markets and pubs like? And how easy are they to get to?
13/15 Vital information for a seller to have when hosting buyers
Make sure you know the nearby public transport links and distance to get there.
14/15 Vital information for a seller to have when hosting buyers
If your home is a family home it's a good idea to find out how close are the nearest schools and what are their Ofsted ratings are.
15/15 Choose the right buyers
Don't necessarily go with the highest bidder, although this of course is a factor to take into account. Financially qualify all offers - do they have proof of funds, how long is the chain they are in if they need to sell their current home, and what is target date everyone is working towards?
1. PRICE IT RIGHT
"List your home with a sensible price, as over pricing it will mean it goes stale," says Jill Bennett, Country Homes senior associate at estate agents Freeman Forman.
The price you put your house on the market for is ultimately up to you, so make an informed decision.
Ask at least two local estate agents to value your home, and compare the estimates with similar properties for sale in your area.
Also look at the most recently sold prices in your area to make sure there's not a huge difference between asking prices and sold prices.
2. MAKE YOUR ONLINE LISTING STAND OUT FROM THE REST
Most buyers start their search online, so both the photography and the property description are incredibly important.
Ask the agent to ensure the photography is scheduled on a bright day to maximise natural light and to avoid dull interior pictures. Also make sure your home is clean and uncluttered.
Take a look at the photos while they are being taken, and ask for more if you feel they could look better from a different angle. Be sure to make the most of features such as big windows or a lovely fireplace.
Also, ask to read the description before it is posted and add details that you feel are good selling points. Add a personal touch by explaining how long you have lived in your home, what you have loved about it and perhaps even why you are selling.
3. CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN - INSIDE AND OUT
First impressions are hugely important. The most recent research by eMoov reveals that on average buyers put in an offer after looking at a house for only 38 minutes - typically over two viewings.
The most basic advice is to tidy up the front of your house, wash the front door and buy a new welcome mat. Clean the windows inside and out as buyers like to get a sense of the view an neighbourhood.
Throw windows open on nice days to let the fresh air in, vacuum and dust and wash any pets (and their beds) to make sure the house smells nice and looks well cared for.
"Buyers often want to check the water pressure of the shower so remove any lime scale that might have built up, it’s an easy job but can make a big difference," advises Robin Chatwin, Head of Savills south west London.
"Prospective buyers always want to check inside cupboards: if they’re packed full, empty them out. Demonstrating your home has adequate storage is crucial."
The general advice is to de-clutter without removing all traces of character - you need to help buyers imagine where their furniture and family pictures will go.
"A garden can be the most important room of the house so mow the lawn, cut back any trees and bushes." says Chatwin. "Creating or reinstating a dedicated BBQ area can be effective as buyers love to see how a garden will work socially.”
4. SWOT UP - KNOW YOUR HOME, MONTHLY COSTS AND LOCAL AREA
If you are present for viewings, be prepared to answer questions about the history of the property, including if it has had any issues or major building work, as well as giving insight into the neighbours and local area.
"The house itself is obviously the most influential factor in the selling process, but selling your local area is also key when helping a potential buyer picture themselves and their future in your house," says eMoov founder Russell Quirk. "Being hands on with this information can often be the difference in securing a sale.”
If you do not wish to be directly involved in the process, provide your agent with an information sheet answering frequently asked questions including the Council Tax band your home is in and how much it costs, what type of central heating you have and how much it costs to run, and whether you have mains or private drainage.
5. CHOOSE THE RIGHT BUYER - NOT THE HIGHEST BIDDER
“The offers stage is the most sensitive part of a sale," says Quirk. So 'being in the know' is vital to ensure your sale doesn’t fall through. A high offer of a few thousand pounds more isn’t always the best route to go down and certainly isn’t worth the stress of a difficult sale, or even that sale falling through.”
As well as the offer price, the things to take into consideration are the position of the buyer - are they in a chain and if so, how long is it? It's also important to qualify if a buyer has had a mortgage in principle agreed, or proof of finances if you are selling to a cash buyer.
It's also a good idea to get an idea of time scales. These will be subject to change, but consider if the dates initially suggested work for you.