Putting your home on the market this Spring? Set yourself apart from the competition with Phil Spencer's top tips.
March marks the start of Spring, when the evenings get lighter, the weather improves and the nation's homebuyers start to come out of hibernation.
So, if you are planning on putting your home on the market, now's the time to get it up-to-scratch.
Here's how in 8 simple steps.
1. De-clutter and de-personalise
Don't wait until move day to have a big clear-out. Do it before the viewings start.
And when you've thrown out (or sold) all you can, hide as much of what's left as possible. This means clearing coats and shoes from the hallway, storing everyday bathroom products in cupboards and ridding kitchen surfaces of appliances, jars and bottles.
Buyers need to be able to visualise themselves in your home, so it could be worth going one stage further and putting away personal effects such as ornaments, photographs and your kids’ drawings.
2. Spruce up the decor
When your home is as empty as it can be, give it a fresh coat of neutral paint and get any dirty tiling re-grouted. If your kitchen is old, you don't necessarily need a new one. Replacing cupboard doors – or even just door handles – can make a huge difference.
Make sure all spotlights and other light bulbs are working, present the beds nicely and add some plants in bare corners for a homely feel.
A deep-clean of your home by a professional cleaning company, which tackles things like ovens, shower doors and underneath sofas, makes a huge difference – and it could be cheaper than you think.
Need a local painter or cleaner? Compare quotes on Plentific
4. Don't forget the garden
Gardens are increasingly regarded as an 'additional room' of a property, so be sure to give yours some TLC. A poll from Zoopla (below) showed that more than a quarter of potential buyers would be put off by an overgrown garden, so cut the front and rear right back. And position a table and chairs in a spot where buyers could imagine having a morning coffee.
Zoopla poll: Would overgrown gardens put you off buying a house?— Zoopla (@Zoopla) January 13, 2016
5. Sacrifice your parking space
If your home comes with an allocated parking space, leave it free for prospective buyers to use. It’s convenient and offers a experience that's closer to the reality of what it's like to live in your home.
6. Hire the right estate agent
When it comes to getting the right sale price for your property, it’s a good idea get three agents round for a valuation. But don’t automatically plump for the one who gives you the highest – this is an old trick used to win instructions.
Find out how and where your agent intends to market your property, make sure they are knowledgeable, locally active and you have a good rapport with them.
Some agents will try and tie you into a 12-week exclusive contract during which time you won’t be able to list your home anywhere else. Be ready to negotiate the minimum time possible.
It’s cheaper to sell sole-agency rather than multi-agency, so I recommend staying with one agent for the first four weeks. This will give them opportunity and motivation to sell your property fast. Then, if you're not happy, you can move onto other agents.
Always try to negotiate on agents’ fees and have the final fee agreed in writing.
Read my tips on Choosing an estate agent
7. Get on top of your paperwork
Instruct a solicitor to kick off the conveyancing process early. Ask them to break down and fully explain all costs associated with selling and, if you can, get a fixed upfront fee for their services.
Read my tips on How to find a good solicitor
Check with your mortgage lender if you can transfer the same deal to a new property, or if any redemption charges will apply.
Gather all the paperwork on your current property together, such as building certificates for any structural work and guarantees for double glazing, boilers or fireplaces.
8. Be smart on viewings
When it comes to viewings on your home, it’s always best to get an agent to do it – they know their job. And, as the owner, you should ideally vacate.
If you must conduct viewings yourself, have a plan of what rooms you are going to show first – the best ones should be first or last. Be impartial and ready for any questions.
Have you got any tips to add to Phil's? Tell us by posting a comment below...