Dressing the part can make all the difference to your home sale
Former estate agent Clair Paxman combines her knowledge of property with creative flair to help sell homes. Sharon Dale reports.
AFTER 10 years in the estate agency business, Clair Paxman has seen and smelt it all, from the properties that reek of dog and stale cigarettes to those with filthy loos and sinks piled high with dirty dishes.
She’s also heard all the reasons why buyers shun houses.
“It can be little things like having cereal boxes on top of the kitchen cupboards, which buyers interpret as lack of storage. Storage is a big issue,” says Clair, who has just launched a new home staging service “I Love Your House”.
“The other thing they say is ‘I can’t see myself there’ and that’s one of the reasons why it’s important to declutter and depersonalise.”
She is using her experiences, good and bad, to help people prepare their homes for sale, offering everything from advice to project managing. Although staging is a common practice in America and Australia, it hasn’t caught on here even though it often pays dividend.
“Some people see it as admitting defeat but it’s not. If you live in a house for a long time and are comfortable and happy you can become blind to the things that might put buyers off,” says Clair.
“It helps to get an independent eye to assess what might help make a property more saleable because the longer it stays on the market the less it will sell for. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune. It‘s about putting right what buyers may see as a negative and trying to work with what you have. So it can be inexpensive things like painting an old garage door or making a drab hallway more welcoming.”
Her own pet hates include overfriendly dogs, fridge magnets, net curtains and grubby, untidy houses.
“I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had an over-friendly dog sniffing my bottom while trying to take photos of a house.
“Leave the dog with a neighbour or get someone to take it for a walk when you are having people round to view. Dog mess in the garden is another problem,” she says.
“Cleanliness is probably the most important aspect. Make sure your home is absolutely spotless and hide or get rid of any clutter. Smoking in the house is a big turn off and if you do, don’t try to disguise it with air freshener.”
Styling a property for photographs and viewings makes perfect sense, though one of her greatest successes had an immaculate interior.
“There was a house that had been on the market for over three years with another agent and the owner came to us. It was beautifully presented and it was on a cul-de-sac but I noticed that every house looked exactly the same. I suggested she paint her garage, windows and door in a lovely Farrow and Ball colour and it sold,” says Clair, who is based near Holmfirth and charges £150 for a consultation. She helped another homeowner by persuading her to turn her “junk room” into a pretty garden room.
“It was one of the best rooms in the house with a big window overlooking the garden. She spent £250 on painting the walls and putting in some flooring and it looked great. She was thrilled as it made the house seem much bigger and it was a useable space.”
Her latest project is a bachelor pad that she’s tackled with soft furnishings and tasteful accessories. She also packed away the Scalextric set that had taken over the loft room and dressed it as a bedroom.
“He was a great client but sometimes you have to be sensitive because some people are selling because they have to move,” she says “I think of it as helping someone else fall for the house you fell in love with.” www.iloveyourhouse.co.uk. Clair’s own home is set to feature in the magazine next Saturday, August 3.
Clair’s Home Staging Tips
The golden rule when selling a property is that first impressions last. Strong visual kerb appeal is crucial and could be the deciding factor in a potential buyer arranging an appointment to view.
De-clutter. Try to remove as many personal possessions as possible. It is estimated that only a small percentage of viewers can see beyond clutter and other people’s personal possessions.
Natural light within a property is very important. Make sure you open blinds and curtains to let light in. If your property lacks light use lamps to brighten dark areas.
Have carpets professionally cleaned. It’s not always as expensive as people expect, but it could make the difference if stains are visible and give the impression that carpets need changing
Create a welcoming atmosphere. In the summer open windows and doors to circulate the fresh summer air and in the winter light homely fires
Ensure windows are clean both inside and out
If you have pets try and get them out of the house and garden before viewers arrive. Protective dogs and affectionate cats can be over enthusiastic with visitors and this can be very off putting.
Prepare an Information Pack. Viewers are likely to ask you questions, such as how much you pay for your utility bills etc. It is helpful to give them something to take away with them.
Ensure your garden is neat and tidy, with hedges trimmed, flower beds weeded, lawns cut, paving, decking and patios jet sprayed.
STAGE IS SET: Home stager Clair and her son Jacob at her home near Holmfirth, top. Above, from left: The house at Farrar Lane, Oulton, the loft room as it was originally with Scalextric track and after being revampd by Clair to become a bedroom. It is important to remove clutter and personal possessions so buyers can see themselves living in the house.