In 2016, 44% of buyers looked online for properties for sale. Among younger buyers that number is even higher with 58% of Millennials* using the internet to find their next home. Most buyers will have seen a dozen or so properties online before they step foot inside any of them. This is why your photos and the state of your property are so important to the chances of making a quick sale.
You are basically presenting a large, very expensive product to a potential buyer and the photos are of paramount importance, as is the state of the property. It should be bright, tidy, welcoming, and homely without being too personal.
Many people make a living out of “dressing” properties for sales but their services can be expensive so here are a few tips for you to follow to ensure your property is presented in the best way it can be to impress your buyers.
If you have any loose cupboard doors, cracked windows, broken tiles or other small fixable issues you would do well to fix them before taking your photos. Nobody wants to move into a property and have to start fixing things right away. You don’t buy ripped clothes or broken cars so why would you expect anyone to buy a broken home? Don’t be lazy. Fix that door!
Your home must be tidy before you present it to anyone. And when I say tidy, I mean really tidy, not just pushing everything under the bed or forcing it all into cupboards. Buyers may look under the bed for potential storage space and scupper your efforts. Don’t forget lampshades, skirting, windows, floors, carpets, bannisters, window sills… anywhere that dust can build up.
If you smoke it may also be advisable to open all the windows a few days before a viewing and use an odour eating air-freshener to dispel the tobacco smell. Move pet litter and food bowls out of sight and try not to cook anything with strong smells for a few days before.
If you have a garden or terrace this applies there too. Mow the lawn, cut the dead leaves from that palm tree and do a little weeding. Brush and mop your terrace to get rid of all the sand that the winds leave behind.
Make the most of the space in your home. Try moving furniture around to maximise the appearance of space and remove any unused items of furniture like that old chair in the corner that nobody sits on.
Remember, buyers are looking at the house differently to you. It’s your home, your safe space, but to a buyer it’s a property, an item for sale. They need to see it like that so move all your family photos into a drawer. Declutter! You might love your collection of 16th century ceramic smurfs but it’s unlikely that anyone else will.
If you have already moved out of your home and have left it empty, I would suggest you return a few items of furniture to the property before accepting viewings. It’s difficult to see an empty house as homely. Buyers need to be able to envisage themselves living there which is hard if they can’t even sit down.
Once you have done all of the above it’s time to dress the property. Get some fresh flowers and place them in a vase in the centre of the main table. Lay the dining table with at least two place settings, with clean crockery and cutlery. Brew some nice coffee in the morning of the viewing or, if you have time, bake some fresh bread the night before – who doesn’t like the smell of fresh coffee or baking bread? The aroma will make buyers relax and feel more comfortable in your home. If you are selling during winter and are lucky enough to have a fireplace, I would certainly light it before a viewing.
This is perhaps the most important part in ensuring a quick sale. You can do all the cleaning, decluttering and presentation you want but if the photos are from the wrong angle, too dark, full of reflections or of the wrong things then all your efforts are for nothing. You don’t need to hire a professional photographer but do so if you can. Otherwise, there are some basics that you must follow:
- At least one photo of every room. Do not miss the small toilet under the stairs or leave out the kitchen. People will want to see all the rooms, not just the best ones.
- Get as much of the room into the photo as you can but don’t worry if you need to take two pics to show the whole room. More photos are better than not enough! One or two photos will not ensure a quick sale!
- If you have fitted wardrobes then be sure to take a photo of them so buyers can see how wide they are. Storage can be a deal breaker!
- Make sure the rooms are bright. Take photos in the morning if you can and ensure all curtains are open. Natural light always looks best. If rooms have small or no windows then put a light on. If buyers can’t see it, how can they like it?
- Bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, living/dining room, utility room, terrace, garden, communal areas, parking, storage – take pictures of all! You would be surprised how many people don’t bother with photos of the utility room or storage. Many people only take terrace photos through the window! Do you want a quick sale or not? Put some effort in and you will sell. Imagine you are the one about to spend a couple of hundred thousand on a home. What would you want to see?
In my job I see some awful photos. I wonder every day how people think they will sell with all those piles of clothes on the floor or the back of a chair, with the kitchen full of rubbish, food packets on the side or a sink full of dirty pots.
Some properties spend months or even years on the market. Don’t let yours be one of them! A little effort at the start can get your property a quick sale and this is surely the aim!
* Sources: NAR Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report 2017 & 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers