Sellers need to ‘pull out all the stops’

    Selling a house in a buyer’s market can be difficult, but there are ways to get ahead…

    With the property market increasingly becoming a buyer’s one, experts at the Homebuyer and Property Investor Show (7-9 March, ExCel, London) reveal the dos and don’ts to boost the saleability and asking price of homes.

    New kitchens and bathrooms will tip the scale

    Kitchens and bathrooms can look dated and buyers often see refitting them as difficult, costly and a lot of upheaval. Updating these rooms will consistently add extra value to a property and can swing a sale by bringing a ‘wow’ factor to the home.  Sellers do not have to spend large amounts of money, but a few extras such as integrated coffee machines, wine fridges and televisions prove enticing to buyers.

    Room for improvement – increase your profit margins

    Extensions and converting space is one of the best ways to add value. In addition to creating extra bedrooms living space, a property could be given the edge with games rooms, play areas, studies and entertainment rooms.

    It is essential that the space in the property is maximised.  If a bedroom is small, but can fit a double bed, put one in.  However, empty homes can be just as bad as cluttered ones, as house hunters often have little imagination and are unable to see themselves living in the property. 

    Think green

    A survey conducted by the Homebuyer and Property Investor Show in January found that almost 55% of buyers would look for a home with eco-friendly features.  This, along with the introduction of Energy Performance Certificates, means it is important for sellers to think about saving energy in their home.  Investing in a new high efficiency boiler can cost £100-£200 more than conventional boilers, but will reduce heating bills and attract ‘green’ buyers.  

    Stand apart from the crowd

    On the back of advice from property programmes, homes have been drowned in white paint. This is bland, shows little originality and will not attract buyers in this market.  Similarly, feature wallpaper is out and vendors need to think originally to achieve a sale.  Vendors should not be too bold in their decor choice, but a splash of colour from accessories is interesting and different, and you can take them with you.

     Drew Baxter, Design Consultant of David Phillips, design led furniture solutions for property professionals, comments: “When preparing a property for sale, decide the look you want to go for, and choose between ‘show house’ and ‘home,’ and not something in between.  If you go for the ‘home’ option then remember that de-cluttering is different from de-personalising, do not remove all traces of your personality.”       

    Don’t be stuck in the past

    What may have been popular a few years ago may not work now.  In the 1990’s there was a tendency to build conservatories to create dining rooms.  Invariably this is a costly process, which will not add value when it comes to selling a home.  Instead, think of creating a more open plan kitchen-diner space.    

    Know your buyer

    Before making any change, it is essential that the vendor thinks about the type of buyer who will be looking round their home.  Make sure any modifications are inline with the rest of the property and will appeal to your target buyer.  The style and layout which may be suitable for a family in a Victorian home, will not appeal to a couple buying their first property.

    Money down the drain?

    Extensive and dramatic garden and décor makeovers are costly and will not suit everyone’s tastes, and often the vendor will not see their investment returned.  Even if a garden is well presented, if it is not to the taste of the buyer they will not pay a premium for it.  Swimming pools, for example, are one of the least profitable additions to a home due to the weather, maintenance costs and the amount of garden space they take up.  Remember, small changes can be just as beneficial as expensive ones.

    Nick Clark, Managing Director of The Homebuyer and Property Investor Show, comments: “In the current market, it is essential that sellers pull out all stops to make their home stand out and get the highest price for their property. Money spent making improvements should be viewed as an investment.  However, home improvements should be weighed up against the ceiling price for your property.  If, for example, you spend £20,000 on a kitchen, rather than £10,000 you may not make back that extra expenditure in the final selling price.”

    Pay attention to detail

    There is little point in making huge changes to properties if the finish isn’t up to scratch.  Poorly fitted light fittings, sockets and messy paint jobs will be noticed by buyers.  The cost to rectify these mistakes will be knocked off the asking price and house hunters will question the quality of the rest of the changes in the property.