Strug­gling to sell? Call in the makeover pro­fes­sion­als

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known as stale stock. Their method is sim­ple: come up with fresh mar­ket­ing ideas and ma­te­rial – and reprice the prop­erty. They rec­om­mend knock­ing 10 per cent off the orig­i­nal ask­ing price. “Less than this and it could go un­no­ticed,” warns Tol­lit. They re­cently sold a prop­erty which had sat over­looked for six months within a week of re­launch.

For those who need to sell but whose prop­erty isn’t gain­ing any view­ings, there is an al­ter­na­tive to drop­ping the price: fo­cus on ap­pear­ance. Back in the heady days of 2006, blem­ishes such as damp patches or thread­bare cur­tains weren’t stum­bling blocks. But to­day’s buy­ers are more likely to wait for some­thing bet­ter to come along if what they see doesn’t catch their eye.

“If you were plan­ning to sell your car, you wouldn’t get the best price by tak­ing it to the deal­er­ship cov­ered in mud and with empty crisp packs in the footwell,” says Tr­ish Pead of Home Stag­ing Lon­don. “It’s the same with a house. If buy­ers see that it has been loved and looked af­ter, it will pique their in­ter­est.”

The con­cept of dress­ing a prop­erty be­fore putting it on the mar­ket is a well-trod­den route in the US and Aus­tralia. Here, while it’s es­tab­lished prac­tice for new de­vel­op­ments, it’s now gain­ing ground on the re­sale mar­ket. With costs start­ing at around £350 a week, it’s an up­front ex­pense which can be a chal­lenge for eq­uity-rich, cash-poor ven­dors. But em­ploy­ing a home stager can be the dif­fer­ence be­tween se­cur­ing the ask­ing price or los­ing tens of thou­sands of pounds by drop­ping it in des­per­a­tion.

One of Pead’s clients was strug­gling to sell a prop­erty in Earls Court, Lon­don, pic­tured top left. “It hadn’t had any in­ter­est and the agent was ad­vis­ing him to drop the price by £50,000,” she says. Af­ter re­paint­ing ar­eas and dress­ing the flat to suit young pro­fes­sion­als, it sold within a month – at full ask­ing price. The £10,000.

Es­tate agent turned home stager Ma­rina Collett of TPS Fur­nish­ings says that home stag­ing is about “dis­tract­ing the eye away from the cracks and creases” in a prop­erty. “So many rooms are just grey and beige, which don’t stand out in the crowd. We use plenty of colour and proper pieces of art which have been pro­fes­sion­ally hung.”

TPS was re­cently hired to help with the sale of a Chelsea house which had a po­ten­tial “red flag” lay­out: the sit­ting room was in the base­ment. The dressed prop­erty ended up go­ing to com­pet­i­tive bids within a mat­ter of weeks.

Achiev­ing the right in­te­rior fin­ish for the de­mo­graphic of the po­ten­tial buyer is key. “You have to un­der­stand the lo­cal mar­ket and make sure the prop­erty speaks to it,” says Sarah Cle­ments of Hamp­tons. ser­vice cost

She was asked to help with a Rus­sian-owned stucco-fronted house in Clapham that had been lan­guish­ing on the mar­ket for a year. “Dec­o­ra­tively speak­ing, it was too os­ten­ta­tious for the Clapham mar­ket.” Af­ter re­mov­ing most of the pos­ses­sions and re­dec­o­rat­ing, the house went un­der of­fer three weeks af­ter re­launch­ing.

Home stag­ing works for the coun­try house mar­ket, too – es­pe­cially when prop­er­ties have been stripped of fur­ni­ture or are pro­bate sales. When an at­trac­tive but soul­less barn con­ver­sion in Glouces­ter­shire wasn’t at­tract­ing any in­ter­est, Luke Mor­gan of Strutt & Parker asked Tet­bury-based fur­ni­ture dealer Toby Lor­ford to help.

“Not only did it then sell for a good price, but the buyer took all the fur­ni­ture,” Mor­gan says. “For some peo­ple with lit­tle time on their hands, pro­vid­ing a ready-made so­lu­tion will be the dif­fer­ence be­tween a good price and an aver­age one.”

TPS helped sell a Chelsea house, main, with its sit­ting room in the base­ment; the buyer of a barn con­ver­sion, be­low, took the home’s fur­ni­ture, too

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