Presentation is the key to selling your home
Jonathan Turfrey at Haart, Susan Tamblyn and Ian Mitchell at Plymouth Homes and Paul Preen at Lang & Co talk to property writer Denise O’Leary
THE famous estate agent mantra has always been Location, Location, Location but when it comes to selling your home the most popular phrase seems to be Presentation, Presentation, Presentation.
The experts are all adamant that a house is sold in those first few crucial minutes – even seconds – when prospective buyers come to view and that the best thing you can do to secure a sale is make sure that your home is looking at its absolute best.
"The most important thing you can do is to create an illusion of space," says Susan Tamblyn of Plymouth Homes.
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"De-clutter then box up and store surplus items, especially the things you don't use any more.
"First impressions really do count so your front door and entrance should be perfect, freshly painted with the door knob shining.
"Get rid of all the litter and sweep the doorstep.
"If your hallway is cabbage-patch green paint it magnolia and make sure the rest of the house is light, bright and where possible neutral.
"It is surprising how many buyers lack the imagination to see their own belongings in a house and what it can look like so do everything you can to help them.
"A house sells within the first few seconds so it is crucial that you create the right impression for the buyer as soon as they walk through the door.
"I have conducted viewings where a buyer has already fallen for a property at the start so when they get to the third bedroom and feel it is a bit small it doesn't matter because they are already in love with the house and are prepared to overlook that issue.
"Make sure that the toilets and bathrooms are clean – and don't smell! – and make sure toilet seats are down.
"Beds should be made and duvets smoothed not rumpled.
"All these presenting features are crucial and convey to the buyer your home is well cared for and well maintained.
"Fresh flowers help too but not if they are standing in stale water that has been left there for a week.
"It is the little things that people notice, maybe not consciously but they spot things out of the corner of their eye and it all adds up.
"And if you have dogs and cats make sure that there are no horrid smells – no stale pet food which smells obnoxious and certainly no full cat litter trays or pet hairs everywhere and if your animals use the garden as a toilet make sure that is cleaned up before a viewing, too."
But of course in order to create that all important first impression you have to secure a viewing in the first place and that is down to two other crucial factors – accurate pricing and good marketing.
"Make sure your agent is using every advertising portal possible to get your property out there," says Jonathan Turfrey of Haart.
"These days there are so many ways to advertise your property, from Twitter and Facebook to the more established methods, so make sure you use an agent that takes advantage of all of them.
"It is also vital that your property is presented at its best with good quality photographs taken on a sunny day when it is looking good and getting the right valuation is essential.
"You are using an agent for their expertise and experience so make use of them and listen to their advice.
"If your property is presented well, advertised and marketed properly and accurately priced then you should get an offer in a very short space of time.
"We recently took on a house that had been on the market for two-and-a-half years and had an offer within a matter of weeks – we didn't have to alter the price, just the way it was being marketed."
Paul Preen of Lang and Co emphasised the need for making the most of modern marketing methods and displaying your house to its best advantage: "The days when people started at one end of Mutley Plain or Plymstock Broadway and worked their way to the other collecting property details from every agent and then coming home to make two piles on the coffee table have long gone," he said.
"These days people will sit at home with their laptops or iPad and view details online so it is crucial that your photograph is eye-catching and your details make the property look as attractive as possible.
"That should then continue for the viewing and I am a great believer that the agent should be the one who conducts the viewing and that vendors should make themselves scarce, at least for a first viewing.
"Pricing is crucial, too. If a valuation sounds too good to be true it probably is."
Ian Mitchell, also of Plymouth Homes, underlines this. "A reputable agent will be prepared with research and evidence to justify their valuation.
"In fact the Property Ombudsman states that an agent should retain all their comparable evidence on every valuation to prove that they have been professional and accountable in the advice they have offered you."
Agents are also reporting that the New Year has heralded a new surge of activity in the property market with mortgage providers beginning to release funds – some with new innovative schemes such as the Halifax Springboard Mortgage – and many properties which had been on the market for some time are finding buyers.
"And that means that there is now a shortage of property as not enough houses are coming to the market to replenish stocks," said Mr Turfrey.
"So if you have been thinking of putting your house on the market for a while this is the perfect time."