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.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

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.

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