Meet our experts:
Danny Watts is a branch manager of the newly opened William H Brown estate agents in Newmarket; Alison Cork is a writer and founder of Alison At Home and is the ambassador for the Wood Window Alliance; Ben Bambrough is managing director of home staging experts, bB Design Hoouse
If you’re planning to sell your home anytime soon, fixing problem areas and making simple tweaks to how you present your house could make a huge difference to how much it’s worth – and it doesn’t always have to cost the earth, either. From that one dingy room that needs brightening up to your dream of making use of the loft space, we’ve all got niggly odd jobs around the house that we’ve been meaning to sort for years. But what’s worth doing and what isn’t?
We asked our experts some pressing property questions to find out where to focus your attention before selling, so that you can get the best price possible for the home you’ve loved and looked after for years.
Do I really need to redecorate?
“I’d definitely recommend it, especially if it’s been a while since the last time your home was refurbished,” says Danny Watts. “A really nicely decorated house always sells quicker and is more likely to get the asking price.
“Even if you don’t have the time or money to redecorate, make sure you give the house a really thorough clean and declutter as much as possible. Prospective buyers will want to try to visualise themselves living the house. So put away any personal belongings in storage boxes and keep shelves and surfaces clear. This will let the buyers imagine their own belongings there.
“Sort out any dirty skirting boards, wires sticking out of sockets, or flaking paintwork. They’re really quick, easy jobs, but make a big difference in making the house look loved.
“Pay particular attention to your hallway. Remove any shoes, coats and old magazines you might have laying around there,” adds Ben Bambrough.
“If you’re lucky enough to have a wide hallway, flaunt its full potential by clearing things away to show potential buyers just how spacious it really is.”
Is it worth installing double glazing or fixing the heating to make my house warmer?
“Yes. It’s a good idea to make your house warmer especially if you live in an old house or near a road,” says Alison. “I like timber windows in particular because they tend to be more energy efficient than UPVC ones, making your house cosier, and they last longer.
Some estate agents also say fitting UPVC windows could devalue your house by up to £20,000, so I’d recommend fitting double glazed timber windows instead.”
For more advice on making your home more energy efficient, contact the Energy Saving Trust on 0300 123 1234 or www.energysavingtrust.org.uk
Do buyers pay much attention to the state of the garden?
“I think it’s the house itself that counts as buyers can make their own plans for the garden once they’ve moved in, so I wouldn’t spend a fortune changing it,” says Danny. “But presentation and making a good first impression are still important, so mow the lawn, get rid of weeds and make it look generally tidy.”
My daughter says dark rooms put buyers off. Is that true?
A recent survey showed that poor natural light and dark rooms trouble 54 per cent of potential buyers, making it the third biggest turn-off after damp and a poorly maintained house.
“Dark rooms don’t show your house off at its best,” says Ben Bambrough. “The key is to always make sure all lights are on when buyers visit, using a few extra lamps in particularly dark corners and high wattage bulbs that shine brighter.” Think about the colour of your bulbs too – soft, white bulbs tend to give out a warmer, less harsh hue.
“Then make the most of natural light by drawing curtains back as far as possible, using ties if you can. And if it still looks dark after doing this, consider skylights or a repaint with lighter colours to make the room brighter and give the feeling of space.”
We’re thinking about converting the loft. Will it add value to our house?
“Typically, the more useable floor space you add to your property, the greater the value of your property, meaning conversions and extensions are worthwhile investments if you can afford them,” says Alison.
“But – and this is a big but – they will only add value if it’s a quality build. Poorly done work can knock thousands off your asking price, while a well-done conversion or extension will add ten to 15 per cent to the value of the property and will more than return the cost of the build. So stay away from cowboy builders who promise a quick job and do your research to find the right tradesman for the task in hand.”
The three golden rules...
...to follow before a viewing
- Scrub the bath, shower and sink– whatever the decoration, unclean bathrooms are a huge turn-off to buyers
- Consider kerb appeal – make your drive, front door and entrance as spotless and inviting as possible. Hanging baskets and a lick of paint on the door can make a big difference
- Have a sniff – pet smells aren’t going to make viewers want to hang around, while pleasant smells from flowers or baking will transform the viewers’ experience
- There's more consumer advice in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.