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How to Prepare Your House to Sell for the Highest Price when Downsizing


Guest Article by Helen Silver

Selling to Downsize ….. The successful way to maximise your (property) assets!

Downsizing is something that most of us have to (and a number want to) experience at some point in our lives. Perhaps due to a change of circumstance; the last child leaving home, a death or divorce, retirement, a move abroad, or possibly for greater financial security.

Whatever the reason for downsizing there is normally a complete mind shift to endure and a PROPERTY TO SELL!

Moving home should be an exciting new chapter in life

Moving home should be, could be, often will be, the beginning of an exciting new chapter in life but, a successful downsize really needs to start at least 3 months before you plan to put your home up for sale.

No matter what’s happening in the property market, if the presentation (or high value placed on a property) doesn’t live up to ‘buyer expectation’, you are less likely to get an offer. Buyers prefer to view aesthetically pleasing properties and might push your sale price way down if they can’t visualise how your property ‘could’ look. Remember, you are downsizing your buyers are most likely ‘upsizing’ and looking for an aspirational purchase. Simplifying, rearranging furniture and de-personalising your home will have a dramatic impact on the space available, changing (positively) the way your property is assessed (and valued) by an Estate Agent and your viewers.

Let’s assume your old house has been your home for many years. Your shelves and bookcases are groaning with treasured collections and memories and the ‘spare’ rooms are filled with other people’s (your children’s or relation’s) stuff! Where do you begin, should you just give the house quick tidy, hoover around a bit and make the beds? Well, yes that’s a big part of it but, if you want to capitalize on your investment, and avoid lingering on the market for months on end, you need to take action…… now!

Parting with your possessions

Downsizing will mean condensing your possessions. You’re moving, or plan to and even if you are lucky enough to downsize to a new pad with a similar amount of bedrooms, space is likely to be at a premium. Now is the chance to decide what you love (and could never part with), what you’ve lived with but not really liked, what you would use again and what you’ll never use again or have room for; i.e. the 5 frying pans and 6 mixing bowls at the back of the kitchen cupboards or the popcorn machines and pasta makers!

Identifying and highlighting your home’s most desirable features, putting the effort into sorting through the house before you go on the market determines your commitment to move. It will also save you from ‘panic- packing’ if you do get an immediate offer! Your rooms will appear larger and more spacious to your viewers, your estate agent can take better marketing pictures and, believe it or not, valuations and offers are higher when a property is well presented for sale.

Generate Desire …

Be objective. Examine your home through buyers’ eyes. Take photos and consider how the rooms are displayed; ask a friend for their opinion but be prepared for some hard hitting honesty!
Appeal to the widest possible audience. Don’t imagine that just because your house is a 5 bedroom property your buyers will have a family, or because you love a house full of pets your buyers will.
Create a lifestyle – hard working, time-poor professionals want some where they can move straight into and make changes as and when finances dictate. Clean up, clear out (the clutter, kids, pets, etc) and add some style.

Invest in some new bed-linen or cushions if yours are a bit past it. Neutralise a lurid colour scheme with soft, light, paint colours, get rid of net curtains and try blinds instead. Think about hiring or buying a new sofa or bed if necessary, perhaps all you need is a large mirror to add a bit of sparkle and light. (After bed pic)

Avoid costly mistakes …

Enhance every aspect of your home; some minor redecoration, a good deep clean, and an intense de-clutter is usually all that’s required – now is not the time to landscape the garden (unless it’s a jungle), install a new kitchen (unless the units are hanging off the wall) or build on a conservatory.

Sometimes, there could be a small improvement, maybe one you’ve considered but didn’t get around to that will add value and make your home more appealing e.g installing a new shower, adding a wash-hand basin to a cloakroom or a sink to the utility room are a couple of things, (depending on the property), that could enhance your chances of a quicker sale.

Many clients have ‘told’ me in advance of a consultation that they intend to “replace the stair carpet”, “add fitted wardrobes” or “take down the kitchen wall” when in fact none of their ideas would have been a deal breaker….. more of an unnecessary expense! If you are worried about ‘getting it wrong’ or spending more money preparing your home for sale than you should, consider calling in professional advice.

Be realistic ….

Just because you are proud of your home, have added a conservatory or perhaps need the money, doesn’t mean your property is worth £100,000 more than your neighbour’s. If you have been out of the property market for a while, study similar properties (to your own) on Rightmove to get a good idea of selling prices, what the competition is like and what price they are selling for. Research your agent, find out who’s listing similar homes to yours, get at least 3 valuations, quiz each of them on their marketing methods and ideas for selling your particular property.

Don’t decide to put your house on the market “next week” when it doesn’t suit your plans; if you’ve a party to host or you volunteered to look after someone else’s dog, wait until your diary is clear. That way you can put extra effort into tidying and preparing for viewings without the added stress of entertaining guests or clearing up after pets.

First Impressions Count

Plan to prepare …
You’ve heard it before but first impressions really do count! Approach the selling of your home as if you were marketing any product or sprucing yourself up for an important interview, even attending a film premier. Seek advice, create a bit of theatre, and add in some little upgrades; plump up the pillows, let in the fresh air….. Please don’t just “stick it on the market to see what happens”.
Avoid calling in the agents until your house is entirely ready, much like buyers they will ‘see’ (and value) what’s in front of them not what it might look like in a months time.

If you are serious about selling to downsize and capitalizing on your biggest asset, planning and preparation are all important.

Crack open the champagne …

Manage your viewings efficiently; start & finish with the best rooms. Try not to talk endlessly about DIY projects or how marvellous your oven is. Instead talk about things relevant to the buyers, local schools, buses or your wonderful suntrap of a patio. Avoid mentioning how draughty the house is and how you can’t wait to live in a more cost effective home!

When you get an ‘offer’, don’t be too quick to turn it down, even when it’s a little lower than you’d hope for. Let your agent handle the negotiations, qualify how serious the buyer is and what position they are in. The offer could be the only one you get for some time…..

Prepare you home for sale, chose a proactive estate agent, become a proactive seller and you’ll soon be downsizing to your new home and a slightly smaller but simpler way of life. Good luck!

About Helen Silver
I run a business designed to help my clients maximise their property’s potential, whether it’s for sale, to let, or to live in! As a property marketing expert I actively work with clients & estate agents to assess the property market & target the buying market. Property Styling is way more than ‘cushion fluffing’ & ‘painting everything magnolia’! Ultimately, my ‘job’ is to create a home-sale strategy to secure a faster, more profitable sale or let. www.propertystylingcompany.co.uk

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