The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Property Clinic -

This week, Lorna Vestey on be­ing the first in the street to sell: We have just put our house on the mar­ket but to our hor­ror es­tate agents’ boards have gone up out­side three of our neigh­bours. How do we en­sure we are the first to sell? Con­cen­trate on the ba­sic fact that you need to make other peo­ple want to live in your house or flat. For­get that it is your home and look at it with a stranger’s eye. You should max­imise the space, the light and any par­tic­u­lar good fea­tures. Re­mem­ber that most view­ers are un­con­sciously buy­ing into a lifestyle, too; so iden­tify your likely buy­ers and present the prop­erty ac­cord­ingly. What is our first step? Thor­ough clean­ing is es­sen­tial – prefer­ably get in pro­fes­sion­als and don’t for­get car­pet and win­dow clean­ers, too. Al­ways make the beds and open win­dows first thing, clear wash­ing-up im­me­di­ately and never leav­ing clothes ly­ing around. So when ev­ery­thing is gleam­ing, what next? Pre­sen­ta­tion: the de-clut­ter­ing so beloved of TV prop­erty shows may be a cliché but is an es­sen­tial for show­ing your place at its best. Demon­strate the func­tion of ev­ery room; for ex­am­ple, if it could be a bed­room, put a bed in it. Some sim­ple re­dec­o­rat­ing may be nec­es­sary, too; strong colours may be char­ac­ter­ful, but in your new ob­jec­tive mode you know they have to go. Pale, neu­tral colours sound bor­ing but they sell. Take down net cur­tains, ex­cept where the out­look is aw­ful. Mish­mash car­pets won’t ap­peal. In fact, re­car­pet­ing through­out with a cheap, pale beige car­pet will in­stantly make most prop­er­ties look big­ger, lighter and more up­mar­ket. Isn’t this get­ting a bit ex­pen­sive? No, spend­ing money like this when you are about to sell may be the best in­vest­ment you’ve ever made and can give you the edge over sim­i­lar prop­er­ties. Any­thing else that can put us ahead in the race to sell? First im­pres­sions are vi­tal: your home will be judged within the first few mo­ments. This means that your front gar­den/en­trance must be smarter and more wel­com­ing than the op­po­si­tion. Paint­ing an ex­te­rior can work won­ders. Keep­ing ev­ery­thing look­ing im­mac­u­late is a strain but there are some things over which you don’t need to stress. Chil­dren’s toys ly­ing around a bed­room or play­room are fine; a teenager’s room look­ing like a den is all right too as long as it doesn’t smell like one and has no dodgy posters. You also don’t need to grill cof­fee beans, bake bread or ban­ish the fam­ily pet (un­less it pongs, barks or both­ers vis­i­tors). Lorna Vestey is a for­mer part­ner of a blue-chip Lon­don es­tate agency.

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