Once the ‘for sale’ sign is up outside the house, it’s only a matter of time before those all-important viewings begin.
Buyers are willing to view a lot of houses in the search for their dream home, and it's what they see and how they feel that makes for the highest offers and the best value for sellers.
Here's our top tips for getting your house ready for viewings when you're selling.
Preparing the outside of your house for viewings
Ever heard of the term ‘kerb appeal’? If you haven’t, then get familiar with it, as this is where preparing your house for viewings when selling should always begin.
Potential buyers will start valuing your house the second they arrive outside, so it’s important to give them a great first impression.
If the outside of your house is dirty, cluttered and unloved, then they might immediately make judgements about how the rest of the house will look on the inside. To give a glowing first impression you should:
Tidy up the front and back garden
Make sure any space outside looks tidy including:
- Sweep up leaves
- Mow the lawn
- Remove debris and weeds from paths and driveways,
- Put your bin and recycling boxes out of site
- Fix broken fences, sheds and gates
- Hose down patios or decking areas
- Clean your front door and windows
- Clean garden furniture.
- Put children’s toys away or lay them our neatly
- Clear up after any pets who use the garden
Consider some small garden improvements
Now that you’ve tidied, what can you improve upon? Is the garden lacking a bit of colour? It doesn’t cost the earth to put up a few hanging baskets or buy some nice potted plants to add a splash of colour – plus these are things that can come with you to your next house. Or it might be as simple as repainting your front door, painting a garden bench, fence or shed that's looking a bit shabby or even just adding a few solar lights around borders to add a bit of interest.
Move the car on viewing day
On viewing days, make sure the driveway is free for your visitors to park and let the agent know.
It might seem like a hassle, but your potential buyers might rate space to park highly on their list of requirements, so make it as easy as possible for them by moving your vehicle elsewhere if you can.
Preparing the inside of your house for viewings
Once you’ve got the outside looking great for potential buyers the next thing to do is work on the inside of the house.
The idea here is to sell the lifestyle to your buyers; they want to see how the house functions and envision themselves living here – whether it be as a family with children, a single person or a couple who are starting their lives/retiring together.
Each room needs to be sparkling clean, immaculately tidy and set out for the purpose for which it is designed – i.e. bedrooms need to have beds and wardrobes, dining rooms need to have tables and chairs and living rooms shouldn’t be cluttered.
Make sure all the little things that are left out for daily use are tidied away into their homes (check out the section on finishing touches for moving day below).
Fix anything that's clearly broken
Walk around the house and take note of anything that’s broken. Then fix it.
The dripping bathroom tap, peeling wallpaper or light bulb that stopped working in the spare room months ago might not bother you (you might not even notice them anymore) but they will be things a potential buyer will immediately pick up on.
If you’ve got inbuilt electrical appliances like dishwashers, washing machines and fridges that the buyers will inherit then make sure these all work properly too.
This is imperative, and something that you should start taking care of months before you even put your house up for sale.
The idea of de-cluttering is not only to make the rooms look as spacious and tidy as possible for viewings, but also so that you’re not moving items that don’t need to be move which will make your removals company quotes cheaper.
Room size is a key requirement for most buyers and many people subconsciously judge this on the floor/surface space available in each room. If you have items of bulky furniture that you think you’d be better off without during the viewings stage then you could always look into some short-term storage for these during the viewing period, just to try and free up some space and make the rooms look a bit bigger.
Check out our guide to de-cluttering before moving house.
Staging - set the scene for home viewings
Home staging is a hugely popular concept when it comes to selling houses and one worth considering if you want to go a little further in preparing your house for viewings. Definitely worth discussing with your estate agent.
How you go about staging is entirely up to you – and it needn’t cost you a fortune, as some people think – but the idea is to ‘stage’ each room of your house as if it were a show home. This is particularly important pre-viewings, as you’ll want to make your house look as enticing as possible for the photographs your estate agent will take.
Popular tips for home staging for house viewings:
- The best way to get into the mind set for home staging is to think in terms of a magazine shoot (flick through some home magazines or Pinterest/Instagram and see how they are presented for reference if need be) in that rooms need to be clutter free, clean and have well-presented accessories.
- Detach yourself personally from each room and look at it with a critical eye. Start by taking away all the personal photographs and children’s artwork.
- Look at the colour scheme – do you need to tone down any brightly painted walls?
- Accessorise. A few new cushions, throws, rugs, lamps, simple and tasteful artwork and small decorative accessories like candles and ornaments are all easy ways to smarten up the appearance of the living room without spending a fortune.
- If you have pets, now might be a good time to get carpets and sofas cleaned as well.
- In the kitchen, clean your sinks, hob, oven, fridge and counter tops regularly.
- Make sure your fruit bowl is well stocked,
- Have a new set of tea towels on standby for viewings
- Replace any old appliances like kettles or toasters that might have seen better days.
- On viewing days, make sure the washing machine and dishwasher are empty.
- As bathrooms are one of the biggest selling points in any house, yours should be kept immaculate throughout the viewing process. Tiles, tubs, taps, toilets and sinks need to be kept sparkling at all times. Remove any products from the side of the bath and store them in cabinets, replace old toilet brushes, shower curtains and blinds and buy a new set of fresh, white towels that can be laid out nicely for viewings.
- In the bedrooms, hang clothes neatly, replace any bulbs in the bedside lamps,
- Remove clutter from the tops of drawers or dressing tables
- Choose your best or buy new bedding, cushions and throws for each bed.
- Turn spare bedrooms that have been used as offices or storage rooms back into bedrooms to help potential buyers visualise the space better.
- In the dining room, clear the table of clutter and lay it with some nice china (any you have, or just a basic white set from any supermarket), a few candles and a vase of fresh flowers for a homely touch.
Finishing touches on viewing day
Now that you’ve got your home looking immaculate and presented to its best, all that’s left to think about are the finishing touches you’ll put into place on viewing days.
Things to remember include:
- Tidying all surfaces around the house. Clean worktops, sinks and toilets (remembering to put the lid down), dust any wooden surfaces or tables and put away any keys, paperwork, letters or things that have been left lying around
- Putting away any laundry and tidying away jackets and shoes that have been left lying around
- Packing away children’s toys and removing pet paraphernalia. If you can, then try and leave pets with a family member or friend for the duration of the viewing. If you’re caught unexpectedly then at the very least hid all toys and put litter trays in the car!
- Hoovering and sweeping the floors throughout
- Opening windows to let some fresh air in in the spring/summer, or in the winter making sure the house is warm and the lighting is cosy and ambient
- There’s an old belief that the smell of brewing coffee or freshly baked bread makes for a cosy and inviting feeling during viewings, but you don’t have to go that far – lighting a few scented candles around the house an hour or two beforehand or having some plug in air fresheners at the ready are just as effective. Remember to pick subtle scents though; anything too overpowering might make people think you’re trying to cover something up!
- Emptying all bins around the house, moving your outdoor bins out of sight, as well as any cars on the driveway
- Dotting a few bunches of fresh flowers around the house (particularly in the hallway and living room) – perhaps some from the garden if you have any, to really show off the perks of living there!