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Property: 10 ways to make your home more saleable

Plenty of front: A tidy exterior will attract more buyers PICTURE: ALAMY

BLAME it on Brexit but homes aren’t shifting like they used to. Estimates from HM Revenue & Customs show that just over 101,000 residential properties changed hands this January. Numbers have been relatively stable for the past five years, but they’re well down on the 150,000+ monthly transactions before the 2007 credit crunch. Post Office Money found the average home spends 102 days on the market before getting an offer, a week longer than a year ago. In London, the average is 126 days, and one in three sellers had an offer fall through within three weeks.

Such statistics make grim reading for those with a home on the market or planning to sell in the near future. But it’s not all bad news as there are plenty of ways to increase your home’s saleability and attract more potential buyers — and add value, too.

1. Give your home kerb appeal

What’s involved?

You only get one chance to make a first impression and if a home’s exterior doesn’t look inviting and well cared for, buyers will assume that the interior is equally uninspiring. So sweep the path, mow the lawn, pull out weeds, repair broken fencing, prune unruly shrubs and add flowers, pots and window boxes. ‘If you’re in a flat and the approach is owned by a neighbour, speak to them if it’s messy and offer to clear it,’ advises Richard Barber of JLL.

Next, you should turn your attention to the front of the house itself. ‘Ensure that the paintwork is fresh and that windows and doors are clean,’ says David O’Mara, marketing manager at Hörmann UK.

‘An outdated or scruffy garage door will affect the look of your property. We recommend a colour which complements existing windows and doors.’

What does it cost?

From a few pounds upwards.

Does it add value?

Yes.

2. Spring clean

What’s involved?

Cleanliness and hygiene are all important, so scrub your home until it is gleaming. Clean carpets and upholstery, sweep under beds and sofas, dust above wardrobes, pictures, windows and door frames, and bring the kitchen and bathroom up to show-home standard. If you can’t do it yourself, use a professional cleaning company. ‘A deep clean on a property can actually make a big difference for quite a small cost,’ says Cory Askew of Chestertons.

What does it cost?

From next to nothing.

Does it add value?

No, but it’ll make you feel much better.

3. Declutter and depersonalise

What’s involved?

Clutter is unsightly but also makes rooms look smaller — two good reasons to have a clear-out. Plus, buyers like to envisage themselves and their possessions in a home they’re viewing and too many personal items lying around make this difficult. Tidy rooms thoroughly, remove papers and keep surfaces clear, but go easy on the Marie Kondo-ing as minimalism can be equally offputting. ‘Clear the house of clutter but avoid taking this to the extreme,’ advises Caroline Edwards of Carter Jonas. ‘Purchasers like to buy into lifestyles — tidy ones! Warm, inviting and cosy is good, but a house that has been decluttered to the extreme can be sterile. Find the balance and ask your agent for an objective viewpoint.’

What does it cost?

Nothing — unless you hire a professional.

Does it add value?

No.

4. Work on presentation

What’s involved?

Never underestimate the effect of a well-presented home. Think how inviting a boutique-style hotel room can be. If you have an unused dining area, then buy an inexpensive table and chairs. Invest in table lamps to create ambience, new cushions and throws for the sofa and beds. If necessary, switch the heating and lights on for viewings, as a cold, dark house is an immediate turn-off. Professional styling or staging may boost your home if it’s been on the market a while. ‘This usually costs around 0.5 to one per cent of your asking price, but Rightmove research has shown this increases the value, leading to offers eight per cent more, on average, than an unstaged property,’ says Josie Lywood, creative director of Fine & Country Interior Design and Q Design House.

What does it cost?

From next to nothing to £££.

Does it add value?

Yes, if staged.

5. Sort the decor

What’s involved?

Don’t market your home until you’ve done all those DIY jobs you’ve been putting off, so fix leaking taps and peeling wallpaper, fill holes and mend broken switches and sockets. Repaint in neutral tones to appeal to as many buyers as possible. ‘A splash of paint can turn a shabby looking house into something presentable. It makes the house seem well cared for and loved, even if it has lacked any real care for years,’ says Ed Heaton of buying agency Heaton & Partners.

What does it cost?

A few pounds and upwards.

Does it add value?

Possibly.

6. Upgrade the kitchen

What’s involved?

As the most important room in the home, the kitchen can be a deal-breaker. If yours is dated, rather than replacing it, try repainting the cabinets, adding new handles, fitting new worktops and splashbacks and replacing sink and taps. Also, consider new flooring and lighting, and ensure it’s clean and clear.

How much does it cost?

£100+.

Does it add value?

Yes.

7. Refresh the bathroom

What’s involved?

An unloved bathroom with ageing fittings will let your house down, but is easy to fix. Install a powerful shower, replace the sink, tub and flooring and update the décor. Like the kitchen, the extent of work should depend on the property’s overall condition. ‘Don’t do the bathroom or the kitchen when the house needs complete refurbishment,’ advises Trevor Abramson of Glentree International. ‘But if a bathroom or two is under par in an otherwise recently decorated home, then by all means make changes.’

How much does it cost?

From a few hundred pounds.

Does it add value?

Yes.

8. Create extra space

What’s involved?

Add extra space by knocking through to create an open-plan layout, or converting unused parts into extra rooms. ‘Loft conversions are increasingly popular, as the difference in price between a three and four-bedroom house grows,’ says north London estate agent Jeremy Leaf. ‘Good design, construction and consideration of the impact on value are vital. It is worth considering the addition of a reception area or conservatory on the ground floor at the same time or the property can become top heavy. Adding a bathroom can make a significant differences to value and saleability, particularly in larger properties, provided bedrooms don’t become cramped.’

How much does it cost?

£1,000+.

Does it add value?

Yes.

9. Secure planning permission

What’s involved?

Selling a home with planning permission for an extension or other improvements makes it stand out and means that buyers will know exactly what they can do to it. Some changes will fall within permitted development rights but if the proposed project is particularly big, or the property is listed or in a conservation area, selling with a successful planning application will be particularly valuable.

How much does it cost?

A few hundred pounds.

Does it add value?

Yes.

10. Ensure it smells great

What’s involved?

A stale-smelling home isn’t appealing, so empty bins frequently, resist strong-smelling foods and buy some scented candles and diffusers. Open the windows to let fresh air in and make pet hygiene a priority. ‘If you have dogs or cats, the smell can be offputting so air the property regularly. Also, the cat litter box needs to be out of sight if possible!’ suggests Teresa Brewer of Finlay Brewer.

How much does it cost?

£25+

Does it add value?

No.