Preparing the Property for Sale

First Impressions…

Much can be done at little or no cost to ensure that viewers come away with the best impression.

That said, if you are just about to start marketing now is not the time to embark upon expensive repairs or renovations. If you think a lot of work is needed then you must consider whether you should delay marketing, or just accept that the need for major work is going to be reflected in your likely sale price.

Big expenditure is not usually reflected in the final value of the house, although such work may make the house sell more easily.

Many prospective buyers will initially view the house without the seller being aware of it, by driving or walking past. What they see may influence them on whether they decide to arrange a full viewing. Potential buyers may be lost without them even crossing the threshold. First impressions are critical, and often difficult to overcome. You should start by considering how the house looks from the street.

The entrance…

The viewer’s first close up look at the house. Any negative features should be reduced.

  • Tidy the garden
  • Paint gates and fences
  • Fix broken gates or fences
  • Paint window frames and doors
  • Repair guttering
  • Fix outside lights


Keep the hall clear of coats and shoes. If the entrance is cluttered the whole house may appear cramped. Once inside it is important that viewers can see the house itself, not everyday clutter. Clutter not only makes the house seem smaller but also distracts the viewer. It makes it harder for viewers to get a proper impression of the house itself, and for them to see how they would use the property.

It may help to clear rooms of anything you can live without — view it as advance storage for the move. If you have old, tired furniture consider whether the room would look better without it.

Relocate items from a cluttered room elsewhere in the house.

Minimise distractions and the house will appear bigger — and will allow the viewers see where they would put all their clutter!

Top tips…

  • Avoid piles of magazines etc.
  • Clear the fridge and units of postcards, drawings, recipes etc.
  • Remove dog’s basket.
  • Remove children’s toys
  • Tidy bathroom shelves
  • Store away what you can
  • Throw away what you were going to throw away when you move


Generally speaking the style of your décor is probably not important (although some of the more bizarre “changing rooms” styles may not enhance the sale!). Bright, clean, fresh décor is the best recipe.

Dull walls, stained paper and dust will not help the sale; the impression will be of a house neglected and in decline, and will probably have the viewer on the look- out for other more substantial evidence of neglect or disrepair.

Once again, spending a lot of money on redecoration need not be the answer but give thought to areas where an impact could be made with minimum outlay. Keep colours simple and try to complement existing carpets, curtains and so on.

Keeping bathrooms clean and fresh

Keep windows clean and sparkling

Tackle peeling paint or paper

Don’t overdo the air freshener – a well ventilated room with fresh air is best

Repairs and maintenance

Do the jobs you know you’ve been meaning to do. Don’t find yourself apologising for things undone and giving assurances that you will be getting round to that.

Keeping minor maintenance up to date makes the house appear well looked after. These are jobs which if done will not be noticed, but if left undone will create another negative impression.

  • Oil squeaky hinges
  • Fix loose door handles
  • Replace broken panes
  • Replace light bulbs
  • Fix dripping taps
  • Fix loose guttering

The finishing touches

Whilst keeping clutter to a minimum and removing unwanted furniture and so on can be beneficial, it is important not to go to the other extreme and end up with a house that is cold, bare and lifeless. A few well placed flowers or prints can do wonders to cheer up a bare room. Consider whether you can cheer up an empty room by moving items from another room.

If you have to buy something, a print or the like, to brighten up a room, buy something you will be happy to take with you to the new house.


Now the house is ready and hopefully people are wanting to view. Everyone has their own tips for success from brewing coffee to home baking. What the viewer does want though is the chance to view properly. Allow the viewer time to have a relaxed look around. Don’t feel you must keep up a running sales pitch — it is often better just to let the viewer look around, but be on hand to answer any questions.

If you have children or pets it’s best to keep them out of the way if possible as they can distract the viewer, however well behaved they may be!

Top tips!

  • Clean windows
  • Repaint front door, if chipped
  • (blue is the most popular colour, then red and green)
  • Polish door furniture
  • Cut the lawn and tidy up the
  • garden
  • Remove clutter
  • everywhere
  • Keep kitchen clean and tidy
  • Ditto for bathroom
  • Keep house well lit
  • Display fresh flowers
  • Children and pet free viewing

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