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Guide to selling your house

10 Good reasons to use an Estate Agent to sell your UK Property

  1. Fees averaging around 2 percent of the sale price are the lowest in Europe
  2. Your local agents knowledge is essential to value your property correctly and discuss current market activity and substantiate why your property will sell and what you can do to help a new owner choose your property.
  3. A professional agent will be actively marketing your property by telephone, advertising in newspapers and on the Internet and mailing to all active purchasers.
  4. Your agent will negotiate the best possible sale price allowing for market conditions.
  5. They will advise you on the buyer’s position, timing and suitability.
  6. When difficulties occur at survey stage or in the selling process your agent will advise you on the best course of action that gets the property sold.
  7. A good agent will liaise up and down the chain of sales and with solicitors assisting in the smoothing of the sales process.
  8. Increased use of modern marketing methods ensure that properties have the greatest chance of reaching the widest audience.
  9. Despite the growing popularity of the Internet, most people (whenever possible) still prefer to find their property locally and deal with someone they can meet and talk to.
  10. Although there are often comments made about Estate agents and car sales people not being the most popular – The majority are very pleasant people earning their living out of keeping the customer happy.    

Now read on....Selling your house will always be a period of stress and anxiety, however the practical tips and advice in this guide will help you to sell your property quickly and achieve the best price possible.

Treat the process as a business deal

The first thing that you need to do when you decide to sell your house, is to try and completely detach your emotions from the property and approach the whole exercise in a business-like manner.

This means treating the property as a product and asking yourself:

  • Why would the customer want to buy this property, what are the best features.
  • What would put customers off from buying this property, does it look scruffy, does it look too personal, is the interior decoration too individualistic?

It is likely that you would have seen one of the many television lifestyle programmes where people struggling to sell their houses are helped out by interior designers or property consultants.

Nearly every time, the reasons that these people cannot sell their properties are:

  • They have too much clutter and furniture
  • The interior decoration is often loud and considered tasteless by most people
  • The house looks scruffy with poor decoration, fixtures and fittings
  • The gardens are messy or just to cluttered
  • They don't even make sure curtains are pulled back during the day or turn lkights on when it gets dark to make the property more welcoming.

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Most do not even realise these problems are putting buyers off and cannot understand why all of the 'tasteless oiks' who are viewing their house do not like the garish bright red wallpaper or the fake oak Victorian panels.

The people on these programmes are often extreme cases, but it helps to highlight the key issues as to what makes a house sell.

Buyers like to see properties that appear fresh and spacious. That way they can begin to visualise their own furniture in the property and actually living there themselves.

This is why the house should be as anonymous and neutral as possible. If the property is too personalised the buyer will only see the current occupant living there and not themselves.

Although a purchaser will often change decor, replace bathroom and kitchen fittings, move doorways etc, it does help sell the property faster if it is well presented.

**The one area many vendors forget is to paint the front door - this is the first point of call and it is most important to ensure that it looks good whilst the person who is going to view is standing there waiting for someone to open it.

Creating an appearance of space

It is important to ensure that the property appears as spacious as possible and the first thing to do is de-clutter all rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms and the kitchen. Make sure that you also go through cupboards and de-clutter these.

Some rooms may have too much furniture in them and removing a few items will help to create the appearance of space.

You can either put your furniture and possessions into storage or hire a skip and take the opportunity to get rid of anything you do not need.

Freshening up the interior

Unless you have had your property recently redecorated, it is likely that it will have sucumbed to wear and tear over the years. The key areas that you will needs to address are:

  • Walls and ceilings - A fresh lick of paint will lift the rooms and impress viewers. Try to be as neutral as possible, white is definitely the best colour to choose.
  • Carpets and curtains - If relatively new, these can just be professionally cleaned, however you may want to replace them if they are looking old and scruffy. Again neutral colours are best and although it is tempting to choose cheap carpets and curtains, it will probably pay for you to fit good quality ones and just reflect this in your asking price.
  • Broken tiles - If you have tiled floors, always ensure that broken tiles are replaced.
  • Kitchen and bathrooms - Many people tend to make their decisions based on the state of the kitchens and bathrooms. Kitchens in particular are a major selling point for houses and in some cases you might consider updating the kitchen to help sell the property.
  • Cracked or broken windows - These should all be replaced and all windows in the property should be cleaned.
  • Plumbing and electric's - Ensure that all plumbing and electrical systems are working

Tidying up the exterior

First impressions count, so it is important to ensure the exterior of your house makes the right impression. The following areas should be addressed

  • Walls, doors, facia, soffits and windows should all be painted where necessary
  • Leaking roofs and broken drain pipes should also be fixed
  • Ensure the garden is clean and tidy, remove children's swings and slides and any other personal objects to create an impression of space
  • **Ensure the front door is freshly painted, door knobs and knockers are well polished and that you buy a brand new door mat

Setting your price

It is best to wait until you have completed the work on your house before you invite estate agents around to value it. It is likely that you will invite a number of different agencies around and then choose the one that you feel is best able to represent your property.

Many people often go with the agent who provides the highest valuation, which would seem an obvious thing to do, however you should be careful at this stage as many agents have being known to quote a value higher than the properties worth, in order to win your business.

In this situation, your property will sit on their books for a few weeks before they suggest that you lower the price to a more acceptable market value. During those few weeks, you could have missed a number of potential sales opportunities, because your price was simply too high.

However, this does not mean that you should always turn down the agent who quotes the highest value for your property. Try to look at it logically, if you have three or four agents quoting very similar prices and one agent quoting considerably more, then it is likely that they are just trying to win your business, instead of providing a fair representation of the value of your home.

Another important factor now, that although most agencies have a "high Street" presence, make sure they also take regular local newspaper advertisements and have a prominent web site that can be accessesed by homesearchers who now use the Internet for their initial property search.

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Showing your home to buyers

When potential buyers are viewing your property, remember:

  • Try not to be home - most buyers prefer the agent to show them around a property and feel uncomfortable if the owner is around. If you are at home when viewings take place, try to remain out of sight and let the agent conduct the viewing.Stating that however the homeowner is probably the person who will be able to answer the questions from the prospective purchaser and sometime this can speed up the decision of the proppective purchaser whether to put in an offer or not.
  • Lighting - People like to see well-lit homes, so ensure that curtains and blinds are always fully open and that dark corners are well lit up with a table lamp.
  • Smells and odours - Try to keep pets outside and if you are a smoker, try to smoke outdoors whilst you are selling your home. Many people find the smell of air fresheners offensive and re-creating the smell of baking bread is time consuming and false. The best thing to do is lightly use pot pourri or place fresh flowers around the house.
  • Clean the kitchen - Remember the kitchen is one of the biggest factors in peoples decisions to buy, so make sure it is clean and clutter free.
  • General tidy up - Make sure that you give the whole house a general tidy up before viewers come round.

Finally remember leave your property  clean when you move. There is nothing worse for someone moving into their new home to find it is very dirty. So make sure it is clean and leave the new owner a bottle of wine or two.

©jmlpropertyservices January 2005

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