First Impressions Count
Consider the first impressions. 'Kerb appeal' is the expression that's most often used to describe how a property should look to buyers seeing it for the first time. What you are really aiming for is a property that looks well-maintained and is clean and tidy. Buyers want to move in without having to do lots of little d-i-y jobs, such as repairing guttering and painting the garage door.
Those properties that look as though they have not been looked after will also create the impression that there might be other, less obvious faults hidden away that might surface later. If the guttering is wonky, for example, perhaps the roof may be damaged in some way. All sorts of similar thoughts will go through a prospective buyer's mind.
All you need to do is to stand on the pavement on the other side of the road, and look at what you are selling. Starting at the roof and working down and around the property and up to the garden gate, ask yourself if it all looks well-maintained, clean and tidy. Where it does not, fix it!
Create More Space
What you need to do next is equally simple, albeit overlooked by most property sellers. Starting with the hallway, and ending with the smallest bedroom at the top of the house, you go from room to room and look at each as if you were a would-be buyer. What you should be asking yourself is "Have I made this look as spacious as I can?"
Most houses are full of clutter if they have been lived in for any length of time. This will make rooms look smaller and cramped which is offputting. It makes it harder for would-be buyers to imagine the room with their possessions in it. They can't see the potential! Remove as much clutter as you can, putting it in the loft for the time being. Think knick-knacks, pictures, coat hooks, shoe racks and similar.
Re-arrange the remaining furniture so that you present the room to its best effect. You need to create the impression that there is lots of space. Re-painting rooms in light and airy shades can also help to improve the sense of space. It's easier for a buyer to repaint to taste than to remove and replace wallpaper.
Shine A Light
Your next question in each room should be "Is there as much light in this room as possible?" Light is important too, and can help make rooms look larger and more appealing as well. Few buyers like dark and dingy rooms. It is often worthwhile investing a few pounds in something as simple as more powerful light bulbs. Lamps and mirrors are helpful, especially in narrow and dark hallways and landings. Consider changing the shades to expose more light into the room.
You may also want to remove or open blinds and pull back curtains to let in more natural light. It's worth making sure that the windows (and everything else) are clean. It's really a matter of having an eye for detail, and making sure that you have done all the little things can help to create that bigger and better overall impression.
Even something as simple as pulling the blind back on a skylight can make a staircase brighter and less gloomy. But that eye for detail will also ensure that you clean the skylight window especially if it hasn't been touched for two years.
Be Squeaky Clean
The final key question for each room is "Does this room look and smell clean?" Make sure your front door is clean, even if it's just a matter of giving it a simple wipe-over with a damp cloth. It is an extension of that all-important kerb appeal. Cleaning every room from top to bottom is a must. Get those windows open to let in fresh air.
Many buyers will notice cleanliness most in kitchens, bathrooms, showers and toilets. They should feel that they could prepare a meal in that kitchen or take a shower in the bathroom without feeling uncomfortable. DO not underestimate the 'shudder effect' of that torn shower curtain flecked with green mould.
Each room should not only look clean but smell clean as well. Many buyers dislike the smell of smoke and pets; especially dogs. Damp coats, sweaty trainers and similar can be offputting as well. One way or the other, you need to lose these smells. Don't forget to pay attention to your back door too - give that a clean-over as well.
Last Impressions Count Too
Remember the back of the property, and that back garden too, if appropriate. Just as you did at the front of the property, stand some way away, perhaps at the bottom of the garden, and look up at it. Does the property look as well-maintained and clean and tidy from here as it did from the front? If not, you need to get to work again, perhaps setting aside a day or two to attend to all of those little d-i-y tasks. Perhaps the sun has faded all of the window frames and you may want to re-stain these with a dark stain to show that they have been done.
Remember the garden as well. Whether you are selling to gardening buffs or not, it should at least look well-maintained, clean and tidy again - so mow the lawn, trim the edges, do the weeding, rake up any leaves, and generally make it look as though it has potential. That busy young couple can just do the minimum needed to keep the garden looking like this. Those with more time and interest in gardening can turn it into the garden of their dreams!