Tuesday, April 03, 2007

How to sell you house without baking bread

OK the enigmatic reference I made to some news in a previous post is not that I am up the duff - thanks for asking everyone - but that we are moving house and selling our existing home. Naturally this isn't a sudden thing and it's been in progress for a couple of months now, but I'm superstitious and I didn't want to start talking about it until we had the paperwork signed and sealed.

We've put our house on the market and today we had our first prospective buyer come and check it out. The place was immaculate - thanks to me waking up at 7.30am and cleaning and tidying until about 12.30. Robert helped move all the bigger stuff last night. After all that cleaning and tidying I think they were in here for 5 mins tops. OK, so it's not exactly a huge house, it's a 3 bedroom flat, but still, I don't know, I wanted them to linger longer and soak up all my hard work somehow. I wanted appreciation dammit.

Having looked at a fair share of houses in our own search for the right place, I've become quite a dab hand at knowing what makes a place look presentable. Here are a few inexpensive and easy-to-do tips on how to help things along:

If you have the time, it's really worth ensuring your cupboards are reasonably neat, and not just randomly shoving your stuff in to make the place look tidy. Chances are if there's a woman looking at your place she'll open a cupboard or two to check out the storage space. The last thing you want is for a pair of ski poles or a box containing your collection of beer mats to hit her on the head. Also if things are all bunched up in there, it gives someone the impression that there is not enough space in your house.

Don't have old crusty-looking soap in the bathroom. Actually, you should never have old crusty soap in the bathroom, but especially not if someone is coming to look at your place. Ditto re. wash clothes. Make sure the kitchen and bathroom/s are clean and smelling nice. Not just tidy, but clean, and put any personal items like your razor, KY jelly, or your contraceptive pill away. It's one thing selling a lifestyle, but there is such a thing as too much information. As a general rule put away as much stuff as you can, so the space looks clean.

What you call much-loved ornaments and mementos, someone else sees as clutter. The idea is to give a sense of space - especially relevant in somewhere like London where this is a rarity. If you are serious about selling your place, trust me on this one, spend a bit extra on a storage unit for a couple of months and pack away all your clutter into it. At least that stuff you can survive without on a daily basis, which once it's in storage, you'll soon see you don't actually need at all - ever.

Books, magazines, basically everything on display gives an impression - not just of you, but of the atmosphere of your house. So bare that in mind before leaving something like a copy of 'Loaded' or 'Knife World' on your bedside table.

Fresh flowers are an inexpensive yet nice touch. They make a place look homey and smell nice, and are a lot less trouble than baking fresh bread or cookies or whatever the hell it is the estate agents magazines tell you to do. I mean, wtf?!?

Use your good stuff - your new linen, towels etc. Stuff that has stains on or looks old, makes your place look equally dowdy.

The central idea is that although you want your place to convey a degree of individual character, this is not about stubbornly advertising your personal eccentricities - love me love my extensive wall-mounted bayonette collection, for example. The moment you put your house on the market, you have to see it as a potential commodity, which sometimes means taking a bit, or in some people's case a lot, of yourself out of it so that it's neutral enough that a prospective buyer can imagine their own life in there.

Anyway, we'll see if any of this works and we get this place sold. I'll keep you posted.


Ugly Pig said...

Bake cookies or a cake and have some nice mellow music playing softly in the background. Remember people are buying a life-style not a house.

letters from london said...

You know, I appreciate the idea behind that, but who the hell has time to bake cookies and cakes each and every day? And furthermore, what do you do with all the cookies and cakes? Are you trying to get me fat?