Well-cared-for, light and clutter-free are the messages a home needs to send if it’s to win viewings and offers without lingering on the market to the point where buyers ask themselves what can be wrong with it. But lengthy and costly makeovers aren’t generally what’s required; simple preparations and viewing-day tasks can help your house give out all the right signals. Try these ideas…
Look back in
Creating kerb appeal may need adjustments from the inside as well as out. Look at your window dressings from the street. Curtains should be hanging without sag or, worse, a glimpse of deteriorating lining, and blinds should look tidily aligned.
These details may be apparent in the agent’s photos, but, more crucially, with precise locations often given in online listings, drive- or walk-by viewers will get an instant impression of the condition and style of your place.
Say goodbye to grotty grout
Scrutinise bathroom grout with an eagle eye. If it looks dirty or has become mouldy, however lovely the rest of your bathroom scheme, prospective buyers will have trouble seeing beyond it.
For grout as sparkling as in this smart bathroom, a homemade combination of bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar applied with a toothbrush could do the trick. Alternatively, try a specialist grout-cleaning or whitening product.
If your grout is too far gone to respond, it’s worth scraping it out and starting again so your bathroom looks pristine.
Paving stones in the back and front garden looking green or grubby? It’s worth hiring a pressure washer for a day to clean them up.
While you’re thinking outdoor space, take time to dispose of frost-damaged planters, and get rid of any outdoor pot plants that haven’t survived the winter. Trim any foliage that’s blocking windows or intruding onto paths, too.
Don’t get marked down
Get up close and personal with your walls. Are there grubby fingerprints around light switches? Scuffs along the hallway? Marks where the bin gets knocked against the wall? A quick touch-up with fresh paint will eliminate the red flags that say the décor needs refreshing without going to the time, trouble and expense of repainting all four walls.
Now’s the moment to be ruthless with your household possessions, too. Expose surfaces in living spaces, kitchens and bathrooms and then make sure they’re clean. Rather than fill up cupboards (which viewers may well open), store elsewhere, donate or junk unwanted items as appropriate.
Check out taps in bathrooms, kitchens and utility rooms for an accumulation of limescale if you’re in a hard-water area. White vinegar is the answer for most if they’ve lost their sparkle. Soak a cloth in vinegar then leave it wrapped around the tap for an hour or so to do its work. The limescale should dissolve and you can wipe it off. Don’t use vinegar on plated taps, though, to avoid damage to the finish.
Taps should also be on your last-minute jobs list when viewers are arriving imminently. A quick polish with a microfibre cloth will remove the splashes that mark them in-between cleans.
Gaze at guttering
You may not have looked up at your gutters for a while, but it’s worth checking them out before you get an agent round. If they’re sagging, misaligned or overflowing, sort them out so they’re keeping the water away from the house walls. If you’ve been guilty of a little gutter neglect, sort the cause, then any stains the water may have made.
Make with mirrors
It may be a familiar mantra, but it’s no less true for all that: mirrors really do make rooms look brighter and bigger. Prime spots that might benefit from them? Hallways are often lacking in daylight and one large mirror or a series like these can make more of any natural light there is. North-facing rooms could also benefit.
Remember, you can take new purchases with you when you move, so you’ll benefit from the expenditure now and in the future.
Bring back the shine
Brown stains make stainless steel sinks look horrid, but it doesn’t take a lot of elbow grease to get back the gleam. Rinse the bowl so it’s damp, sprinkle on bicarbonate of soda and leave for a short while. Then wipe with a sponge, rinse and, hey presto, the sink’s sparkling once more.
Air and prepare
It’s easy to forget about the invisible aspects of a home, but they’re vital for good viewings. Before anyone arrives, air stuffy rooms and ensure condensation has cleared from bathrooms (early showers and a re-switching on of extractor fans that have timed out too soon might be in order).
If it’s cold, don’t forget to put the heating on, either. A neatly folded throw on the sofa will emphasise the cosiness of your home when it’s chilly outside, too.
Here’s another on-the-day essential to help make your home the one prospective buyers fall for. No room should be off limits, so go out for the duration of any viewings – and take tempted-to-lie-in teens and any visiting or resident parents or in-laws with you.
Lovely as your pets are, they need to be out of the way, too, and their bowls and other stuff tidied away.