When it comes to selling your biggest asset, it’s all about maximising the value. You could close your eyes, cross your fingers and hope for the best, but that would just be leaving it to chance.
The truth is if you want to increase the value and saleability of your home, you need to put in some effort. It needn’t cost the earth, and there are many small things you can do to increase your chances of selling for the top price.
So, let’s take a look at the things that make a difference between success and failure.
It’s time to dress to impress. No, we aren’t talking about your clothes. We are talking about how your house impacts potential buyers from the roadside. If they don’t love what’s outside, they won’t love what’s inside.
The first thing to do is to take a step back and look at your house. What do you see? Is the garden neatly trimmed, with stripes in the lawn and the hedges manicured?
If the exterior of your home looks like it needs some love and care, what message are you giving about the interior? Think of a viewing like a job interview: you would never dream of turning up in your jeans and a t-shirt if you wanted to make the right first impression. Likewise, your house exterior only gets one chance to impress
One of the easiest ways to improve the outside of your home is to plant new shrubs and flowers. It gives an immediate impact and doesn’t cost a small fortune to achieve.
Moreover, if you see peeling paint on the porch and window frames, it’s time to get your overalls out and get to work.
Another way of enhancing your kerb appeal is to paint your front door. And try not to choose the same colour as your near neighbours. Remember, it’s all about standing out, not blending in.
And the colour you choose makes a difference too. When your viewers sit down that night to discuss the houses they’ve seen, they will often use visuals as a way of picturing it: “Oh. was that the one with the red front door?” and “I really loved the colour of the porch.”
Another neat trick is to give your house a name. It could be your surname or a local landmark that you choose, but it’s a great way to capitalise on standing out from the crowd. It will give your home a slightly upmarket appeal without breaking the bank.
Why spend all that effort getting the outside right if the inside lets it down? Nothing shrinks a room like clutter. People like to see straight edges and clean lines, but they find it hard to visualise a space when their attention is drawn to your mess.
Plus, it also gives the wrong impression. It informs the potential buyer that if you make no effort to sell your home, what else have you neglected?
We understand that not everyone lives in a show home, and the house has to have a degree of that lived-in feeling, but it should be managed carefully. If you have kids, scattering a few toys creates the right impression, but emptying the entire contents of the toy box is overkill.
The same can be said of pets. You are trying to create mood, atmosphere and homeliness. People buy houses, not homes. Once they move in, the homemaking begins. It’s the colours, the scents, a carefully placed plant, a picture hung on the wall.
These are all the triggers that make us feel safe inside our homes because they are stamped with our personality.
Step out of the room, close the door and count to five. Then, re-enter the room and take stock of what you see. If you think something looks out of place, it probably is. Another way to look at it is to imagine the Queen is coming to lunch.
Is your home presented in a way that you feel comfortable receiving Her Majesty? If the answer is yes, pat yourself on the back and wait for that invitation to the next garden party to land on your doormat.
If the answer is no, you have some work to do before the Queen pops round. A great tip is to make a list of the must-have things and the not-needed items. This should help you reduce your clutter by at least 50%.
Another top tip is to ask yourself when was the last time that you used an item. That way, you quickly learn which things you need around and which items can be stored away.
If you have a garage, buy some cheap storage boxes and start packing things away. If anyone asks, you can say you are preparing for the house move by being efficient.
Also, when you declutter, you might discover problems you didn’t know existed. Piles of belongings can easily disguise spots of damp. Mould and mildew hide behind the mess. You only spot them when it’s too late after the buyer makes the discovery and decides it’s not the house for them.
Catching these issues early is the key to rectifying them, and no one needs to be any the wiser.
Last on your list is smells. Bad odours come from all directions. Drains can smell, carpets and curtains allow dirt particles to cling to them, and if you have pets, your home might already be a bit pongy.
We once had a seller fry bacon just before a viewing to get rid of the smell of three sweaty giant poodles. It might have been better to open some windows and use Febreeze rather than cover up sweaty dog odours with sweaty bacon.
Minor repairs can become tomorrows significant task if they are left unchecked. If you see cracks in tiles, splits in door and window frames, and missing roof tiles, get them repaired. Nothing quite says “disrepair,” like a potential buyer opening a kitchen cupboard and it comes off the hinges, or the handle falls off.
A five-minute fix is the difference between your potential buyers thinking your home is well maintained instead of full of defects.
It could also affect your property value. Buyers view your home with a critical eye. One simple handle repair in the kitchen is cheap and quick, but to your buyer, it means the entire kitchen needs replacing. What should be pennies to repair has now just cost you thousands.
And when your potential buyer costs up a new kitchen or bathroom, they are not working to the same budget as you. These are all weapons to get you to lower your price.
Some jobs are simple DIY tasks that most people can handle, but others may require the services of a professional. A good example of this is when you get clouding between the panes of glass on your double glazing.
Even if one window has faulty seals, your buyer sees that as a warning sign that every window in the house needs to be replaced. What might be a £100 repair is now running at thousands inside your buyers head.
By taking care of these repairs, you are ensuring the maximum return on your investment.
They say the kitchen is the heart of a home, so focusing your energy on making that room the best it can be should be a priority. Likewise, the bathroom has the potential to be another “wow” room.
Time and again, these two rooms have been proven to be the reason for securing a quick sale. They are among the most heavily used rooms in the home and the ones that buyers connect with the most.
This is partly due to the high expense of replacing a kitchen or bathroom, but also because they buy into the dream of owning your fantastic kitchen.
You don’t need to rip out the old kitchen and replace it with a new one to create impact. Some simple things can make all the difference. Replacing the worktops could be the answer, or slapping some white paint on dark, or dated kitchen doors can lift a space and brighten it.
The same decluttering rules apply to your kitchen as they do to the bathroom. Clear away any surfaces, storing things neatly in the cupboards. Give everything a thorough clean to remove streaks, limescale and dull metalwork like sinks and drainers.
If you have tiled splashbacks, check the grout for mould and mildew and replace it if necessary. Fill a bowl with fruit and place it on the kitchen work surface, and fold some new fluffy towels and place them strategically in the bathroom.
What you are trying to create is the idea of “lifestyle.” People often buy into the concept of “lifestyle” as much as they do the practicalities of your home. Try and think of it like buying a new car. No one gets excited over the brakes or the seatbelts, but they do when it comes to gadgets like BlueTooth and rear parking cameras.
No one likes dark spaces unless you are a vampire. If Count Dracula is coming to view your house, ignore this advice. But for the rest of us mere mortals, getting as much light into our homes is crucial.
If your windows need a clean, get them sparkling to let the light in. Remove net curtains as they significantly reduce the amount of light inside your home. If you have heavy curtains, make sure you tie them back, so as much light enters the room.
If you have blinds, pull them up, so they don’t restrict the light coming through the window. If you are selling your house in mid-winter, sometimes the weather may be dreary, limiting the amount of light inside your home.
You can counteract this with some carefully placed lamps or by replacing your dull bulbs with newer, brighter ones. How you use artificial light in your home can make a huge difference. Have you ever heard the term “mood lighting?” It’s something you hear designers talk about a lot.
Strategically placing lamps in a darkened corner illuminates and helps create an atmosphere. It can transform a dull room into a warm and inviting space.
If money is no object, you could consider fitting skylights. They provide instant light and help to brighten the darkest rooms.
If you want to achieve the best price for your home, these tips can make all the difference. When you invite people into your property hoping they see the value of living there, you are trying to convince them that it is the perfect place.
You are not only selling your home, but you are also selling the dream, and to achieve that, you need to put in some hours to increase the saleability of your property and to maximise the value.
Keeping your kids safe is your number one priority. It’s tricky enough at the best of times, but imagine the stresses of ensuring a safe environment during a renovation. Children may be small and harmless, but they sure know how to find trouble, even when it might not be obvious to the adults in the room.
The best advice we can give you is to get on your hands and knees and scan the room to get a child’s-eye view. What can you see? Can you spot any gaps that your children can access? Have you covered all your bases? Are there trip hazards and trailing cables?
You could move the family to a relative's home or a hotel, but the reality is most families undertake a renovation while they live in the house.
So, with that in mind, we need to find solutions to help you childproof your home during a renovation. Let’s take a look at some suggestions you might find helpful.
Power tools are part and parcel of any home renovation. Saws, drills, sanders, you name it, they are probably being used in your home as part of the ongoing work. The best way to keep your kids safe is to fit stair gates to block their access to the areas where danger lurks.
Most kid’s toys consist of switches and pulleys, lights and funny sounds for cognitive development, so it isn’t hard to see why a misplaced power tool might look appealing to a small child. To them, it’s just a toy.
The contractors need to be left to get on with the job without the need to pack their tools away whenever they stop using them. It would slow the renovation and potentially spoil the working relationship between you and the professionals.
The only thing you could do was insist that they pack all the tools away to make the space safe for your children at the end of every working day.
Divide your home into safe zones and working zones. That way, you know where your children will be safe. Once you’ve established which rooms are off-limits, you can set to work making the protected areas as comfortable as possible.
Stair gates will help you block access to these hazardous areas, but you also need to keep the safe zones as interesting to your children as possible. Don’t pack away all their favourite toys and try and keep the living environment as normal as possible.
Also, the house will be full of strange sounds and people. Your secure zone should be a barrier to all the upheaval. Of course, all of this depends on their ages, so smaller children will find it more challenging to cope.
Have a conversation with your contractor before they start the renovation, establishing the safe zones in the house and why. The more you communicate with the builders, the more they understand what you want, which minimises misunderstandings.
If you can, make the safe zone a room or two with outside access. This stops the contractors from using the same entrance as you, preventing them from walking through the protected area.
We spend so much time dealing with the physical dangers to our children during a renovation that we seldom give much thought to the air quality.
Dust and other particulates circulate throughout your home, causing your children to inhale possibly hazardous material. Air pollution is such a problem in our daily lives, so the last thing you would want to do is expose your little ones to more harmful pollutants.
You could cover all surfaces with dust sheets and install plastic sheeting over doorways between the working space and your safe zone to minimise the spread of the dust. If you're renovating during the summer, encourage the contractors to open as many windows to let the dust escape.
If your renovation is happening during the winter, encourage the contractors to close as many doors to slow the dust from spreading inside your home.
You could also invest in an air purifier and set it running 24/7 to remove all the impurities in the atmosphere. If you can get one with a HEPA filter, it will remove 99.97% of all dangerous particulates to a size of 0.3 microns. To put it in laymen’s terms, that is microscopic.
Just remember that with an increased level of dust, your filter will need regular replacement or cleaning, depending on the model you buy.
During a renovation, dust spreads to almost every surface, including carpets, curtains and soft furnishings. Protecting your children doesn’t stop after the work is done. By covering high-traffic areas of the home and all the hard and soft surfaces, you are ensuring that you minimise the danger further down the line.
Kids like to crawl and touch things, and just like any inquisitive creature, they like to use their mouths. You’d be amazed how much dust you will still be lifting months after the builders have packed up and gone home.
Investing in a good quality vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter should help you clean up, but the best way to deal with the problem is to avoid dust settling in the first place.
Small fingers find tiny holes, so to avoid any injuries, use socket covers that snap into place to stop your little ones from finding electrical outlets. Likewise, keep an eye on loose wires and cables. These are usually coloured and so may look attractive to young eyes.
Try and encourage your contractors and electricians to cap off the wires and use insulation tape when performing any electrical tasks. It is unlikely that any professional worth their salt will leave your electrical system live while there are exposed wires, but mistakes do happen.
While we accept that building sites are haphazard and full of dangers, the tidier you encourage your contractors to be, the fewer dangers there are. Screws, nails, saw blades and other sharp implements are commonplace, even after the builders have gone home for the night.
If a contractor knows they are working on a project for a month, they will soon establish your home renovation as a place to store all the tools and equipment they need. All you can do is make it clear that you have to live in the house with young children when they leave at night, so keeping a clean workspace is helpful.
However, we wouldn’t encourage letting your child have free reign in the areas where the home remodel is taking place. But as realists, we understand that occasionally mistakes happen, so if they do, at least you’ve minimised the risks.
The truth is no one likes living in the middle of a building site. It’s hard enough staying sane without taking into account the needs of your little ones. Holding down a full-time job and trying to raise a family while renovating your home is a balancing act.
However, keeping your child safe is the single most important thing you can do when you are in the middle of a renovation. So, if you want to undertake a major building project in the near future, start planning the childproofing now.
Ever had a conversation with your fridge or washing machine? We thought not, but believe it or not; modern appliances do talk to each other. It’s a connected world! Computers, watches, mobile phones and servers all communicate with each other.
We have Apple and Google devices to tell us the news, the weather, and even our favourite recipes. What was once science fiction is now a science fact.
So, what if you could harness this smart technology when it comes to protecting your home?
You’ve probably heard about the Internet of Things. It’s the generic term used to describe appliances and electronic gadgets that communicate with each other via a wireless connection.
The whole concept of IoT is to make your life easier. It’s a super-modern way of streamlining everything so that you are in total control.
Fridges can alert you when you run out of milk and even place online orders for you. Cars can connect with a central diagnostics service and report problems to the manufacturer, and they can even send out software updates to keep your car’s computer systems protected.
When you actually sit and think about it, the possibilities are endless, especially when we talk about home security.
Essentially, there are four types of smart security.
These devices are controlled via an app on your smartphone. They can communicate with you remotely, alerting you to any security breaches. You can even lock your front door from the other side of the world.
Imagine a scenario where one of your kids gets home and forgets their key. One quick call to you at work, and you can remotely let them in without any hassles.
Even when you are out, the doorbell can alert you to someone at your property, and you can communicate with the house caller via your smartphone. It gives the illusion that someone is in. Also, it will record faces so that you can play it back, should you have any issues.
Smart cameras communicate with your tablet or smartphone to alert you to any intruders. And you can also control them remotely via an app.
If a sensor detects the protective security seal is broken, it will alert you remotely. You can also programme your cameras to work in conjunction with the sensors for maximum security.
You may think you have every corner and angle covered, but there are always weak links in any defence system. Your home security could be put at risk by your washing machine or your fridge-freezer.
Who would suspect that your smart blender was the route for hackers to breach your security umbrella?
Often, innovative technology requires clever thieves to thwart your plans. As technology has moved on, so have the criminals, and they know that targeting the weakest link in the chain is the way through the gate.
These appliances are way down the security pecking order, but they are part of the same IoT umbrella and give cybercriminals the most accessible point into your security systems.
A well-documented case in 2015 saw Netflix, PayPal and Spotify fall foul to hackers who harnessed the collective power of hundreds of thousands of minor and insignificant devices to launch their attack.
To put it simply, if your washing machine is connected to the same home hub as your security cameras and locks, you could be vulnerable.
Smart security places you virtually in your home no matter where you are in the world. It can appear to the criminals that you are home and safe, deterring them from gaining entry. You can see who is calling at your front door before you’ve even left the comfort of your sofa.
If you are home alone and don’t like the look of the caller, you don’t have to open the door. You can even turn on lights using your home hub to enhance the illusion that you are home and there are people in the house.
This is especially useful when you are away and want the house to appear occupied. Thieves often watch properties, and if they see a light go on, they will assume you or someone is there and move on.
What could be more convenient than answering the door via your video doorbell? You can even answer the doorbell from the comfort of your sunlounger on a sun kissed beach on the other side of the world. You can also relax knowing that your locks are active and there are no breaches.
Imagine having total control of your home security 24/7 and 365 days of the year. Switch on the lights, close the garage door, pull the curtains, all with a press of a button from anywhere in the world.
Picture the scene: you're at the airport, about to jet off on holiday, when you check your smartphone and realise that the front door is unlocked. With the press of a button, the lock is engaged, and you can travel away without a care.
You would have needed to contact someone with a spare key in the old days and get them to pop around to lock the door.
Smart technology exists as a means of preventing a break-in. It is there to ward off any would-be attackers. Once a crime has been committed, it is irrelevant whether you have smart technology or not.
However, with internet connectivity, you can prevent a crime from happening in the first place.
All this video technology gives you the ability to see the perimeter of your home, keeping you safe before anyone attempts to enter. Some smart doorbells have 25 feet night vision ranges and 1080 resolution. You also get 180-degree wide lenses that pick up any suspicious people before they step foot onto your property.
Someone will always find a way through, especially if you place all your trust in smart security. Remember we talked about the weakest link in the chain as an access route into your system, well IoT devices are by no means perfect, and there are ways and means of breaking the security wall to gain entry.
Worse still, once the criminals have access to your smart devices, they could keep on attacking whenever they choose.
It would be tragic if your entire security system rested on a steady and reliable supply of electricity. If the power went down, how would the technology cope? Is there a backup battery to keep your lock working, and how long does it last?
These are all valid questions that should have you on alert that the IoT is not a magic bullet to solve all your security problems.
We keep everything on our mobile phones these days: photos, contacts, passwords and even the controls to your home security system. If you were to lose your phone or have it stolen, you are vulnerable to a security breach.Even a mugging might be a trigger for a bigger crime.
Imagine being robbed without anyone entering your home. Hackers could tap into your devices and steal the contents of your bank account without breaking a sweat.
Nothing gives away your current location like a smartwatch, phone or fitness device. Hackers can find out where you are without too much trouble and know that when you answer your video doorbell claiming to be in, you are actually miles away.
If someone is smart enough to gain access to your security system, who would know if they turned the tables, using your cameras and doorbells to spy on you. They could track every move you make, and you’d be none the wiser.
Criminals look for and spot generic codes and manufacturers names. Give yours a name that nobody would possibly suspect to make it harder for the thieves.
Change the passwords and usernames for every device because switched on criminals will recognise the generic names and codes of specific products.
In addition, try not to be obvious about the name you give it. Avoid things like “Pete’s fridge” or “Blender 1234.” Try and think of words that have no connection to you, the address or the product.
When people visit your home and ask to connect to your router, how do you know if their devices are secure? Setting up a guest network is easy, and it means they are not compromising your home security.
How many times have we ignored software updates until it is too late? Manufacturers regularly update their software to stay on top of bugs, fixes and issues that arise. Download them whenever you see a software update. It could be the difference between strengthening your security and compromising it.