Ten tips to help prepare your property for sale or rent

Preparing your property for sale or rental can be an overwhelming process, especially if it is a property you are particularly attached to. There’s so much more to selling or letting your home than simply placing it on the market with an agent. It pays to do some preparation work beforehand to increase the chances of success, particularly if you are selling or renting in a competitive area like St Albans and Hemel Hempstead. Selling or letting within a satisfactory time period and attaining the price you want is much more likely to happen if you have spent some time doing the groundwork before your property goes to market.

So here are some top tips that we at Aubrey and Finn estate agents would suggest for those looking to place their property on the market.

1.    Do your research

Talk to an estate agent or research local property prices online to get a realistic idea of what properties are selling or renting for in the local area. This will give you a good indication of what your property is likely to achieve. This research may also help decide whether it could be worth spending extra time and money undertaking building work or renovations in order to gain a higher sum for your property. We are always happy to advise you on the local property market and whether we think renovations could add value to your home.

2.    Create a great first impression

You’ve heard of that buzz phrase “curb appeal” right? Spending a bit of time, money and effort making the exterior of your property look attractive and welcoming before placing it to market could be the difference between making a sale or gaining a new tenant and having a tumbleweed blowing through your property listing.

A great first impression is really important and as the exterior of the home is the first thing a prospective buyer or tenant will see in photos and upon arrival, it’s important that it is appealing and entices the viewer to want to look inside.

Pay someone, or spend some time yourself making gardens and lawns look tidy, sweeping up leaves, cleaning the cobwebs, washing windows and clearing up the exterior of the property. Perhaps even stretch to giving the exterior a new lick of paint! Greenery can also help make a home look inviting so investing in a few planters or a hanging basket outside the front door to cheer the place up can really help.

3.    Smarten up the Interiors

Before putting your property to market, decide whether a quick lick of neutral-coloured paint could help in any of the rooms. Perhaps ask a friend or relative to cast a critical eye over your current décor. If that bright red lounge accent wall or purple coloured bedroom is a cause for concern to them, then a bit of money or time spent repainting to a more neutral tone can help to add value and sell the property more quickly

4.    Clear the Decks

It pays to remember that you are selling your property, and the lifestyle that comes with it, not your furniture and contents, so try to put yourself in the prospective purchaser or tenant’s shoes.

A couple of things which can help are firstly to depersonalise by removing any photos, kids paintings, your football memorabilia collection or anything which marks the house as “your” territory. Secondly to declutter… putting books, toys, clothes or anything which drowns the character of the home into storage helps you to get a head start on the packing and can alos make the rooms seem bigger and more appealing which helps the prospective buyer or tenant to imagine the space as their own.   

5.    Spick and Span…

Once the décor is up to scratch and the clutter has been cleared, now the cleaning begins! A clean home is much more likely to attract a quick sale or let than a home full of dust, grease and dirt.  If the prospect of cleaning your home to extremes is too much to bear then perhaps invest in a cleaning company to come and do a preliminary “deep clean” for you which you then just have to maintain whilst the property is being marketed. Alternatively, stock up on the bleach, polish and black bin liners and clean the house yourself.  Tip – prospective buyers and tenants will be looking in cupboards, ovens and behind the shower curtain so make sure that you clean all areas of the home which they can access!

6.    Pets… What Pets?

Fido the dog, Fifi the cat or Frank the friendly house rabbit may mean the absolute world to you but (shock horror) not everyone may feel the same way you do about your special pet. Knowing that pets live in a property can be very off-putting to a prospective buyer or tenant. If possible, try to remove any excess pet-hair from carpet and furniture before viewings start and when you have viewings, place animal bedding and toys in cupboards and clear pet food bowls away so that the smell of the food is not lingering. If you can, arrange for your pets (especially dogs) to not be present during viewings so that the visitor does not have to contend with an over excited dog bounding at them when they walk through the door.

7.    When is a room not a room?

Prepare rooms for the purpose they are it most likely to be used for and don’t let your estate agent be grandiose when describing the purpose of a space as the viewer will see right through it. We’ve seen corridors marketed as “study” rooms, shower rooms called “utility rooms” and that all elusive “4th bedroom” which actually doubles as the dining room. Make it easy for the viewer to see what the purpose of each room it and don’t call rooms by names such as “the playroom/office/visitors bedroom”. Make sure they can envision what they would use the room for.

8.    Swot up on local info

A prospective purchaser or renter may have 101 questions they want to ask so being ready with the answers can help to warm them up to the property. Giving info on local schools, rubbish disposal, parking arrangements, council tax prices, average energy spend, local crime rates, nearest place for a loaf of bread or takeaway etc. may mean that you are giving them all the info they need to make a decision to purchase.

9.    Those finishing touches

Once the bigger jobs have been handled in preparation for your property to be marketed, don’t forget the finishing touches. Cut flowers on the table, the smell of fresh bread or coffee in the kitchen, a planter pot by the door, a lit fire, a scented candle or reed diffuser – all clichés, but all great ways to make your home appear warm and inviting.

10.  Choose your team wisely

We think that one of the most important tips we can give you is to ensure that you have the right people in your corner once your property is ready to go to market. Always ask for a recommendation of which estate agents others have had a great experience with when selling or letting their property and do your homework. Research which agents have the best reviews - it’s not always the leading market names which give the best customer experience!

Choose three estate agents and set up a valuation with them. Be aware of how easy it is to make an appointment for a valuation from the get go and how the initial conversations are handled as this may indicate the type of service you are likely to receive throughout the sales or lettings process. Also notice who they send around to carry out the valuation and during the valuation ask what commission structures they offer and who will be carrying out viewings (especially during evenings and weekends).

The best advice we can give is to trust your instincts and appoint the agent who you feel will be the most suited to your needs. This may not always be the one who is promising you the most money!

We hope you found these tips helpful. If you are considering selling or renting, or even air bnb-ing your property in the St Albans or Hemel Hempstead area then we would love to chat to you about how we can help!

Get in touch with us today on 01727 221290 or 01442 230400