Some tips & suggestions to prepare your property for sale

When selling your property there are a number of things that you can do to prepare your house to ensure you get the best price possible.

This article aims to highlight what you can do within your home help to attract as many potential buyers as possible. Some are more obvious than others and may be things that you already do, but some may not. We hope it helps you prepare in advance and think about the best way to present your house – but remember these are only suggestions and they don’t need to be followed to the letter. Of course, if these are things that you’re already doing – then great!

Each person has individual tastes and styles, likes and dislikes which makes it impossible to guarantee that you will be able to decorate it to everyone’s tastes. In today’s market, the accent is very much on smooth, clean lines and clutter free open spaces that cater for the widest variety of individuals. This is because it is much easier for a buyer to visualise what they would do to a property with a “blank canvas”, rather than one which has already been decorated to another individual’s tastes, (that makes it hard for them to see past the current décor). By enabling a prospective buyer to imagine living in your property, you are increasing the chances of selling your house for a good price.


1. Clean & Tidy

Make sure that you clean your flat / house thoroughly (including windows) before your property manager comes round to take photos for your schedule and again before any of your viewings.

If you have a garden, ensure that it’s tidy as possible by removing any rubbish or leaf litter that may have blown into it. Remove any washing from the washing line or off the dryer in the flat.

In the bedrooms, ensure duvet covers or bedding is clean and ironed ensuring focus is away from crumpled, two week old bed linen. A quick way to cover it up is to keep a nice throw handy that you can cover it with and some scatter cushions to make the bed look cosy & inviting (and hide the crumpled bedding!).

In the kitchen, make sure that you put away any dishes that you may have on the draining board and ensure that tea towels / oven gloves are clean or out of sight.

If you have coat hooks in the wall, or a coat stand, hang one or two coats on it to demonstrate its use, but hang the remainder up in a cupboard or wardrobe. Too many coats get very bulky and encroach on the room or hallway, making it feel smaller.


2. Removing Clutter

Too many items in a room can make it look much smaller than it actually is, putting off potential buyers because they need more room to move about in. You can enhance the feeling of space within a room by removing / storing away things that are un-necessary e.g. stacks of magazines, files, books, soft toys, bottles or containers.

To test this at home, close the door to a room and then open it and walk in & look round the room. Think about where your eye is drawn to and how much of your time is spent digesting all the information in the room. You want the viewers to focus on the features of your house and not your personal possessions for any longer than is absolutely necessary. 

In the bathroom, for example, make sure that you keep things like your shampoos & conditioners, beauty products etc. out of view. The most modern, stylish bathrooms can look instantly untidy and less desirable with several half used bottles sitting in the shower tray or on the shelf. At the same time, hide the toilet brush as far behind the toilet as possible whilst storing extra toilet rolls out of view. As cute as the Andrex puppy is, it does add to the clutter factor.

Look at the storage that you have in a room and try to put as much as possible in cupboards. If you run out of space to put things, consider stacking some simple, stylish storage boxes. You can purchase these from a range of stores. IKEA, John Lewis and Habitat offer a very good range of boxes at affordable prices. By putting things into boxes, it not only simplifies the area visually, but also means it’s already packed when you move! Preferably arrange to store any unnecessary items elsewhere – at a friends or family members house (at least during viewing times).

Rugs can add extra visual information – particularly those with a detailed pattern. Sometimes this can work positively, but in other instances it can work against the room. Though rugs provide a softness and warmth during your time in the house, the removal of a rug from a wooden floor can further enhance the feeling of space within the room. If you are uncertain whether you should remove your rugs prior to viewing, you should take a good look at the space before with the rug, and then remove it, then ask yourself what gives the bigger feeling of space to reach your decision? Of course, there are instances when rugs are very handy for conveniently hiding big marks on the flooring!


3. Neutral colour schemes

If you are considering re-painting the house or a room in preparation for sale, make sure that you consider a neutral colour palate. Select plain, simple clean colours such as white, pale greys, cream or light pastels. Although these may not be as exciting as a deep, dark, passionate red or dark purple, it is ensures that you are maximising the appeal of the property to as many areas of the market as possible, whilst keeping a feeling of space & light in the room. If you do have strong colours, try to limit the number of colours within the room to three.


4. Lighting

This is an area that is often overlooked when viewing houses, but the effect of lighting can dramatically alter the atmosphere within a room.

Firstly, make sure that you have lots of light. Replace bulbs with a higher wattage to light the room brightly and make sure that you have plenty of side lights in the room as well as the central pendant lights. This is very important in the evening & if viewing in the winter months. Side lights give a cosier, more homely feel to a room and can perhaps be used instead of a central pendant light, particularly if the central light is not a particularly attractive feature.

Spot lights should also be considered, though bear in mind whether these modern lighting solutions are in keeping with the style of your home. Halogen spots may look a little out of place in a rustic country cottage, if it’s not thought out properly. Not that I’m saying it can’t be done – it just has to be done with a lot of thought & planning in the right areas!

Consider, if you haven’t already got any, having lighting underneath the cupboards in the kitchen that lights up the work surfaces below. This adds to the feeling of brightness in a room and has the practical advantage that it helps when preparing food. If you don’t want to go to such an expense, then you can add a few well-placed side lamps to help.


5. Curtains & Blinds

When viewing your property, make sure that curtains are opened well to demonstrate the amount of natural light that the property has. If you have net curtains or similar light gauze drapes, you may wish to remove these if it darkens the room considerably. This is particularly true if the property benefits from nice views, although it could be argued that the opposite was true & the net curtains could be left in place!


6. Flowers

Fresh cut flowers or plants always brighten up a room and make it look more inviting. Fresias & Lillies can be particularly pleasantly scented and will permeate the entire room.


7. Children & Pets

It’s recommended that you try get someone else to look after your children or pets during viewing times. Both can be a little un-predictable with strangers and can lead to a distraction from the main focus being on the flat. If children are present, try to limit them to playing with one toy only, putting the remainder away.


8. Heating

Ensure that your flat is warm and inviting by putting the heating on before and during viewing which welcomes people into your home. If you have a living flame or a working coal fire, then make the most of the feature by putting it on during the viewing – unless of course it’s the summer!


9. Smells

The sense of smell is one of the strongest of the senses and can invoke powerful emotions, be they positive or negative. Make sure that your home is free of strong odours and if you smoke, try not to smoke in the property for at least an hour both beforehand and during viewing times.

The smell of fresh coffee is warm & welcoming, whilst the aroma of baking bread is completely alluring.


10. Empty Properties

If you are selling your property completely empty, it may be worthwhile leaving a few items in there – a sofa with some cushions in the living room, a bed made up in the bedroom with more cushions and possibly a few large white candles (available again from IKEA). A few items will suggest the function of the room and help the prospective buyer envisage how they would dress the room.


We hope that this has given you some ideas and suggestions as to how to prepare your property for sale. Purdie & Co’s Property Manager will be able to discuss with you further your individual requirements when you meet.