Just as there are many things you can do to improve your chances of selling your house at a great price, there is an equal number of things that will drive away potential buyers and leave you scratching your head.
If you are working with an estate agent, he or she will be able to make suggestions on how to make your particular home more saleable, but addressing the following problem areas is always a great place to start.
1. A smelly house is not an attractive house to potential buyers. The problem with odours such as cigarette smoke and pet smells is that you live with them day in and day out and may not notice them. To an outsider, however, the smell will be pungent and noticeable. You can get rid of these odours by smoking outside, keeping litter boxes fresh and in a contained area, repainting walls, shampooing and steam-cleaning carpets and opening your windows to let in fresh air. Don’t try to cover odours with an air freshener without taking steps to eliminate the problem; it won’t work and your house will still be smelly and unwelcoming to potential buyers. Removing odours from mould and mildew can be a little tougher and may require professional intervention if the affected area is not easily accessible (between walls for example).
2. Pets: you love them and think of them as part of the family. Your potential buyer may not share your sentiment, so like other members of the family, your furry companions should not be on site while someone is inspecting your house. Pile everyone in the family car, or keep your pets in the garden so potential buyers can look around without being barked at, snarled at or pounced on.
3. Bathrooms are associated with hygiene, so unclean bathrooms are a major turn-off for most buyers. Make sure your toilet, bath, and sink are sparkling clean and that the drains are clear and free of wet hair and other odour-trapping debris. Shine your taps and mirrors, de-clutter the medicine cabinet, empty the bin and wash the towels, shower curtain and floor mats.
4. Dark rooms look dingy and uninviting. Increase the brightness factor of your rooms by adding brighter bulbs (if appropriate), installing extra fixtures, or by placing accent lamps or cabinet lighting throughout the room. An even simpler fix is to pull back heavy curtains and lift your blinds. Trimming low-hanging branches from nearby trees can also help.
5. Busy wallpaper is a no-no. Too many patterns can be distracting and can date your décor. Consider removing busy wallpaper, but don’t paint over it because that will look even worse.
6. Insects; they’re usually harmless, but still an obstacle to home sales. Squash what you can, clear cobwebs, and enlist professional help if you have an infestation.
7. Low curb appeal can discourage potential buyers from taking a closer look at your home. Spruce up your path, drive and façade. Make sure the paint isn’t peeling, and that gardens look their best, even if out of season. Bicycles, lawn mowers and tools should be neatly stored in a shed or in the garage if necessary.
8. Blocked Gutters. Potential buyers may not notice blocked gutters during an initial showing, but they will turn up during a professional survey, which could be the difference between a conditional sale going ahead or not.
9. Clear out when someone is looking at your house. Potential buyers may feel awkward looking around your house if you are hovering over their shoulder. Working with a estate agent to sell your house eliminates this problem, as they act as chaperone during the showing without intimidating your buyer.
Most of these fixes are simple and inexpensive to implement, yet can have a major impact on the saleability of your house. If possible, address any of the issues that are present in your home before you list it for sale.
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