Tracy Kellett is an ex-Estate Agent and runs leading Buying Agents BDI Home Finders - she walks us through what not to do when selling your home.
As a Buying Agent I see lot's of properties and I see lot's of buyers reactions to them. One can't over generalise as there is a big difference in something being sold as 'beautifully presented' and those properties which are directed towards that huge market of 'do-ups'. However, for the average house in the street this is what my buyers turn their noses up at the most:
Smells. There is nothing like walking into a house to be greeted by eau de cat litter, wet dog or teenage stench. I've smelt many a teenage bedroom from the bottom of the stairs and it doesn't give me a warm fuzzy feeling. Before viewings, windows open, animals out and invest in industrial quantities of Febreze. Spray liberally!
Animals. Many people are scared of dogs and even cat's and don't like the idea of moving into a house that has had them. I had a very embarrassing experience of a client running screaming out of a house at the sight of a cat, never to return. It is best to make your home seem like an animal free zone.
Teenagers. Leaving aside the normal state of their bedrooms, (the things I have seen), having a brooding teenager in bed playing Mortal Kombat does nothing to encourage relaxed viewings.
Vendors. As a viewer, my heart sinks on first viewings if the Vendor is showing. All too often I am tailed as though I am going to pinch something, (I don't look that dodgy, honest), or regaled with a blow by blow account of how they brought the chiminea back from Malaga. Give viewers space to view and to 'get the feel'. They will ask questions if they want to.
Road noise. Buyers really do have an issue with road noise, mitigate this as much as you can by having windows closed. It’s not cheating, it’s just sensible. I recently viewed a very expensive flat on Knightsbridge and for some reason they had all the windows over-looking the road open. Noise was all I could focus on. If you have the option of adding good double glazing it really will help.
**Cheap refurbishments **It really may seem like a good idea to rip up the carpet and put down cheap laminate flooring. Or to replace an aged kitchen with a cheap new one but this often backfires. If a buyer doesn't like the new kitchen or flooring they will feel they cannot justify replacing it because it is new but at the same time they don't want to live with it. Replacing things like kitchens and bathrooms cheaply just for selling can cost you not only money but also a sale. Most buyers I have known (women, let's be honest), are dying to put a new kitchen in to their own taste... let them.
Cracks. The vast majority of cracks are surface cracks, just plaster deep, however they send buyers into a fear free fall. It doesn't take much to fill them in before marketing, so do it. If they are deeper cracks, commission a surveyors or structural Engineers report before sale so that they can be addressed from the outset. That report can be shown to potential buyers allaying irrational fears or detailing what works need to be done or have been done. Just telling a buyer 'they are nothing to worry about' won't wash with them or their Surveyor.
Damp patches. Don't laugh! Bathrooms leak and many a house I go into has the tell-tale sign on a downstairs ceiling. Paint over it! Dumb as it may seem, buyers worry terribly when they see them and saying 'Johnny didn't close the shower door properly' will be met with cynical disbelief as they irrationally chew over all the horror stories they have heard of rising damp.
Peeling outside paintwork. We've all heard about 'kerb appeal'. A 'yawn' I know but when a buyer arrives at your house and the first thing they see is peeling paint on the windows it is a really bad start. They will enter with the premise that the property has not been maintained and will 'cost them money'. Generally they will cost it up much higher than the cost in reality and then try to haggle that off the price. Having external paintwork brought up to scratch is generally a good investment for selling.
Oh, and as for brewing coffee, baking bread and popping plastic flowers on the TV for property styling purposes, just so you know..... buyers don't buy it!
Now I have done the sensible stuff, permit me a little silliness with my favourite property turn-offs - from pained experience:
Toilet seats up - just vile
Knickers on radiators - especially large ones.
Nude pictures of the owners - Yes! people do have them on display.
Plastic butterflies on the outside of the house - No! it's not cute.
Overgrown gardens - trek through the undergrowth to find where the bodies are hidden?
Sticky carpets - eugh.
Damp underwear on bathroom floors.
and finally did I mention what I've found in the bedrooms? Probably best not, eh?!
**With thanks to Tracy Kellett **
**Tracy is an ex-Estate Agent and runs leading Buying Agents BDI Home Finders. She is a very well respected figure in the property world, judging the Sunday Times Estate Agents awards and regularly commentating on the property market in the broadsheet press. You can follow Tracy on twitter here or visit her website: **www.bdihomefinders.co.uk