First impressions last when it comes to selling your home. It’s not just things like off-street parking and south-facing gardens that can make all the difference to prospective buyers, even something as trivial as cluttered rooms or pet smells can be enough to put them off.
If you’re looking to sell up, here are our top 10 tips to help ensure viewers leave with the feeling that they’ve just seen their dream home and not a house of horrors.
What to do before you put your house on the market
The state your house is in when the estate agent comes to price it up can make a big difference to their valuation, so make sure you do the following before getting it valued.
1. Have a declutter and a clean
A cluttered house creates a bad impression, and prospective buyers don’t want to be stepping over discarded clothes and toys every time they enter a room. So before you place your house on the market, have a look at what you can get rid of - packing away seasonal clothes, taking old toys to the charity shop and thinning out piles of books, CDs and DVDs are all good starting points.
2. Consider minor renovation work
If you’re selling up, you don’t want to be splashing out on major home improvements or repair work, but giving the place a lick of paint and tidying up the garden can make a massive difference. No buyer wants to be greeted by an overgrown garden, so make it more welcoming by cutting the grass, weeding the flowerbeds, trimming the hedges and removing any rubbish.
If you have the money available, it might even be worth getting the garden landscaped as this can add significantly to the value of your property - a recent study from Post Office Money found that forking out £2,750 on landscaping the garden can add up to 77% to the market price.
As for the inside, painting the walls, doors and skirting boards can help brighten the place up, and you should always try to repair any damage to walls and replace cracked or chipped tiles. Although you won’t want to fork out for major repairs, if any urgent work does need doing this will be picked up in the survey that is conducted as part of the sale. If the work remains outstanding, this could affect the sale price or put buyers off completely.
Making major adjustments can potentially add a huge amount to the sale price - based upon the median asking price of £286,000 for a three-bed semi-detached home in the UK, the Post Office Money study also found that homes with improvements such as a new kitchen, garden landscaping, extension or walk-in wardrobe were on the market for more than 10% higher than the median asking price.
The table below should give you an idea of how much value some of the most popular renovations could add to the value of your home.
How much value do renovations add to the value of a home?
Estimated cost of improvement3
Value added on average (%)
(Common home improvements over the last five years by % value added, Source: Opinium Research for Post Office Money)
3. Think about the timing of the sale
Although this can vary between the region you live in and the type of property you’re selling, the time of year you put it on the market can make a huge difference. Spring always seems to be a popular time to sell, as many people are looking to make changes and don’t have the distractions of Christmas or summer holidays to consider. With that in mind, summer and winter are best avoided, but January could be a good time to put it on the market, in the run up to spring.
Autumn can also be a good time to sell as the dark, cold days haven’t set in and there are no major holidays to contend with, but bear in mind that after October the market tends to slow right down.
4. Get multiple valuations and consider a range of agents
If you’re looking to get any work done on your home, it makes sense to get a number of quotes from a range of contractors, then pick the one that best suits your needs and budget. You should do the same with estate agents.
An increasing number of online estate agents means sellers now have more choice than ever, and valuations can vary significantly from one agent to the next. To get the best idea of how much your property should go on the market for, get valuations from a range of local and online estate agents, then make an informed choice on who to sell with, taking into account the perception and reputation of the agent, alongside the viability of their valuation.
What to do once your house is on the market
Once your house is on the market, you should consider the following to help push the sale through.
5. Get started with a conveyancer
The job of a conveyancer is to prepare the contract of sale, a statutory disclosure statement (often referred to as 'Form 1') and any other documentation required by law for the sale to proceed. Technically, this means you don’t need a conveyancer until an offer has been made, but you can get a head start on things by sorting the paperwork early.
It might even be worth getting in touch with a conveyancer before you advertise your house for sale, to ensure you fulfil your legal obligations.
6. Be proactive about advertising your home
There’s more than one way to let prospective buyers know your home is for sale. Your estate agent will do most of the work by putting a sign up outside your home and placing the details in its office and on its website, but you can also do your bit by advertising it on social media.
Instagram and Facebook could be a good fit for posting multiple pictures, and you should consider using hashtags such as #property and #sale for greater exposure. It might even be worth paying to promote your posts to reach a more targeted audience, but take care not to overspend on this type of additional advertising.
7. Plan and practice your viewings
Your estate agent will normally take care of any viewings, but you may have to conduct them yourself in some instances, usually if someone is coming for a repeat viewing. Even though this will simply be a case of you showing someone around your house, it can still be quiet nerve-wracking, particularly if you’re not properly prepared for it.
To ensure you come across as a confident seller, plan and practice the order you will show buyers around the house, alongside a little bit of sales patter, and consider any parts of the property you might want to avoid. And be sure to prepare yourself with answers to some potentially tough questions about the house, the area it’s in, and your reasons for selling.
What to do when you get an offer
You’ve had some viewings and the offers are coming in - so far, so good. Now you just need to make sure the sale gets over the line. Here’s how...
8. Choose the right buyer
If you’re lucky enough to get more than one offer, you might be tempted to just go with the best on the table, but a bit of due diligence is needed - it can be devastating to have things fall through at this stage, especially if it’s because you backed the wrong buyer.
Before you accept an offer, carefully consider the circumstances of each buyer to work out which of them, if any, are completely ready to go through with the purchase, taking into account whether they have sold their own home or are part of a chain. If you need any help with this, your conveyancer should be able to offer guidance.
Even if you only have one offer, you should assess the buyer before accepting it. You can find out more in our complete guide to the house buying process.
9. Be prepared to negotiate
All homebuyers are looking for a bargain, so don’t be offended by any low offers, and certainly don’t completely disregard any buyer that offers less than the asking price. It’s perfectly normal for buyers to kick things off with a relatively low offer, and you should use this as your cue to start negotiating.
10. Help to keep the process moving along
Once you’ve accepted an offer, you can be forgiven for thinking it’s a done deal, but nothing is finalised until the contracts have been exchanged. This means the buyer can still pull out at any time, something they’re more likely to do if things seem slow and unresponsive - if things aren’t moving along quickly enough, this gives them the time and the inclination to look elsewhere.
You can help keep things moving forward by keeping an open line of communication with the estate agent, to make sure they are still speaking with the buyer, and by returning documents to your conveyancer on time.
At Post Office, we understand that everyone’s situation is different. That is why we have teamed up with Bank of Ireland UK to offer a new mortgage range that could work for you. Use our mortgage calculator to get an estimate of how much you could borrow, or find out more on mortgages at Post Office Money.