Guest Article from Jill Treloggen: Preparing Your Home For Sale

publication date: Dec 8, 2008
author/source: Guest article from Jill Treloggen

Jill Treloggen runs an interior design business in Oxford.  Together with her interior design knowledge she also trained with Anne Maurice the ‘House Doctor' from Channel 5.  Now she uses her expertise to help clients sell their homes faster and for more money.

Jill Treloggen talks through the key stages to preparing your home for sale, and how to get the best results.

Should I Stay, or Should I Go?

People often ask how I advise people on how to present their home for sale ‘aren't they offended?' they ask.

The key to selling your home is to ensure you're in the right state of mind, that's why this first stage is so important.  Be clear of your reasons for moving - maybe a job or bigger house - and keep that goal, your future in mind.

Staging your home is merely the process you go through to achieve your goal.  I make sure I spend time with clients helping them to be dispassionate about the process and take off their "home owners' hat" and wear a "property marketing hat" instead.

Remember, you are leaving, so save your creative energy for the new house.  It may be inconvenient having to move things and stay tidy, but if you get it right, you will soon be on the move.

Kerb Appeal - Walk On By

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression, never is that more true when selling your home.

Many buyers drive by a property before booking a viewing, or simply drive on before a viewing if they don't like what they see.  If the outside looks tired it will suggest the inside's the same, and you'll loose viewings - and viewings create sales!

We all take for granted how the front of our house looks, we simply stop seeing the flaky paint on the front door, or the weeds on the path - buyers WILL see it, and it could well put them off.

Look at your street - does your front door stand out? Is the house in good repair?  Is the garden tidy?  If you don't call in an expert, then why not ask a friend to give you some honest feedback.

Do as much as you can to make your house look appealing and invite buyers to come and view the inside!

Reduce the Price Tag

We're not talking about dropping the asking price, but we are talking about reducing the Total Package Price Tag.
What do I mean?  In addition to all the fees, there are also the costs of renovations which add to a buyer's overall costs, and their mortgage requirement.
Typically people look around a house and compile a shopping list which falls into three categories:-
1. Must do immediately 
2. Will do fairly soon  
3. May eventually do

You need to reduce the ‘must do' list as these items in effect inflate the price of your house and may price you out of the market.

The fact is that things don't always cost as much as you think, if you can address the key things you will stay competitive.
With a critical eye look for all those repairs you've meant to get round to, clean the house then clean it again, and take a critical look at the décor.

Keeping it Neutral

We hear a lot about neutral colour schemes - the ‘sell your house fast' TV shows are full of it - so why does it work?

Colour has many psychological and visual effects on us. As an interior designer I use colour to create all kind of illusions in a room.  It's this technique we apply to our advantage when selling a house.  Neutral colours deliver the following benefits:-

1. Lighter rooms - no one wants a dark house
2. Bigger rooms - pale colours recede and make rooms feel bigger - buyers never say they are looking for a nice cramped house?!
3. Less contentious - strong colours evoke a love/hate reaction - you're trying to please all of the people all of the time!
4. Reduce the decorating bill - neutral shades will complement most buyers furnishings and can be lived with - thus the ‘must do' list is reduced.

Remember - you're not exhibiting your interior design skills, you're selling a house.

No Distractions Please, We're Buyers

‘Clearing the Clutter' is a well used phrase - I prefer to call it ‘removing distractions'.

Viewings typically last up to 15 minutes.  Buyers make their decision quickly - I call it the ‘halo' and ‘horns' effect - usually the hallway sets the tone, if they like it your house wears a halo, if they don't it starts to grown horns!
Presenting the right image throughout and keep buyers focused on the property's benefits is vital. Untidy rooms, dirty bathrooms, or your 20 year old graduation portrait all provide distractions that stop buyers noting down the important things - size of rooms, where their furniture will fit, view of the garden etc.
During first viewings buyers can be distracted by your personal décor taste, tidiness and ‘how you live' unfortunately this means they haven't noted down the important stuff - this can waste time and lead to disappointing second viewings.

A Place for Everything, and Everything in its Place

When selling, it's important to give each room a specific purpose.

Many of us use rooms in a way useful to our lifestyle - NOT when you are selling - YOU MUST stage them for the purpose they are intended.

Through a buyers eyes, how you use rooms can give some big clues to potential problems:-

1. Dual use - dining/study maybe useful to you, a buyer interprets this as no quiet study space in the house.
2. Mobile storage - a clothes rail for those ‘must haves' - a buyer may see as not enough wardrobe space
3. Box room full of junk - useful storage to you - unloved, uninviting room to a buyer
4. Small bedroom used for ironing - useful space for this task to you, not big enough to take a guest bed to a buyer

Take a critical look at each room - what should its use be?  It may be inconvenient to change in the short term, but it will help you sell quicker.

Who Would Live in a House Like This?

Many buyers are buying ‘aspirationally' - ie: it's their first home, or first detached home. 

They want to be presented with the lifestyle they perceive is associated with the property, and it's down to the seller to not disappoint!

Three key rules will help you get it right:-

1. Know your audience - who are your likely buyers?  Family, professional or retired couple? - they will be attracted by different things, so make sure you understand your market - your estate agent will be able to give you a guide on who is buying property in your area.
2. Present a story - simple dressing and staging will give people lifestyle indications buyers are looking for - a table runner and flowers in the dining room is simple, but sets the tone. A best restaurant guide on the coffee table of a city centre studio suggests a good social life.
3. Don't over do it - too much staging can be off putting, so give each room one lifestyle clue and leave it at that.

A View to a Sell

All the preparation I've talked about above is leading up to the big event - the viewing.

There are so many do's and don'ts when it comes to viewings - so here are the top five:-

1. Clean and tidy - seems obvious, but you MUST clean and clean again, tidy all rooms, make beds and clear away washing up etc.
2. Smelling sweet - don't make coffee or bake bread, there's no substitute for fresh air - open all window 20 minutes before the viewing for 5 minutes.
3. Know your area - add value to the viewing, if they're a family know the good local schools.
4. Dress to impress - No pyjamas or sloppy jogging bottoms! A trick of the trade - wear colours which complement the décor - it will present a harmonious atmosphere.
5. Get feedback - ask viewers what they thought, do they have any concerns? Make any changes you can before the next viewing.

Happy Selling!

For more information visit Jill Treloggen Interiors or call 01993 700515.


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