Space will sell your home
” In the modern world we live life in the fast lane. We race to keep up with the Joneses. We are overworked, over connected and over stressed and we compete over how busy, important and sleep-deprived we are. But we don’t have to.”
Brooke McAldary extract from the book “Destination Simple”
More and more these days people are looking for a life less complicated. Minimalism is a lifestyle choice. If the minimalist gurus are to be believed owning less than 50 items is liberating. The fastest growing segment of the commercial real estate industry is storage, with one in ten houses renting some form of off-site storage. So it’s safe to say that we all own too much “stuff”!
But let’s not get carried away here! We need to talk about one of the biggest dilemmas I face frequently as a property agent. How on earth do you tell a proud house owner that their beautiful home needs to be drastically de-cluttered if it is to stand a good chance of a successful sale?
We all fill our homes with precious memories. Family photographs, treasured ornaments, much loved books, DVDs and music collections and (my own guilty pleasure) a beautiful array of coloured candles and tea lights. Things that we have worked hard to buy or have been given as gifts. Things that we are rightly proud to display in our homes. Things that we love and cherish. Things that make this house our home.
When it is time to move on, this home that we love has to become someone else’s idea of heaven. A safe haven from the stresses of every day life. The buyer has to be able to imagine how THEIR precious things will look in this space. And that means stripping it back to a blank canvas. You must try to see your home through the eyes of a complete stranger.
What is a prospective buyer looking for?
A place of comfort and privacy.
A place where they can express themselves.
A place to be calm and relaxed.
A place to put their own treasured belongings.
A place where they can be productive and pursue passions.
It’s incredibly hard to visualise any of these things in a house brimming with someone else’s life and possessions.
So, how do you optimise your chances of a quick sale?
1. Start by reminding yourself that it is no longer YOUR home. Take the emotion away and it will all be much easier. Be positive about clearing the decks, it’s the first step to the next chapter in your life.
2. Acquire some storage space. Unless you have considerable outside storage you will need to ask a friend or rent some space. Don’t fill all your cupboards or spare rooms with boxes, storage space is one of the things people look for and full cupboards appear smaller.
3. Acquire good, sturdy, waterproof containers. You will feel happier knowing your precious things aren’t going to be damaged.
4. Remove all but essential items from display. Empty shelves, dressers and tables. Even if you are taking these items with you clear spaces are easier on the eye. Books can be left but put them in order of size so they look organised and neat and get rid of old, tatty paperbacks.
5. Pick out simple and modern ornaments and plants to display. A few well placed, elegant items should draw the eye without screaming at you!
6. A lick of paint can make the world of difference. I’m not an advocate of replacing kitchens or bathrooms unless they are in disrepair. Spending money that you will not get back makes no sense and often these things won’t be to the taste of the new owner anyway.
7. Clear away any unnecessary furniture. Especially if the living spaces are quite small. Small rooms don’t have to feel cramped. Don’t overdo the soft furnishings. Cushions and throws in accent colours can add warmth but too many can look fussy and distracting.
8. Remove all but a few of your favourite family photographs.
9. Kitchens and bathrooms should have clear surfaces. No ornamental spice jars or containers. Utensils and toiletries should be stored in cupboards and drawers. Taps and stainless steel fittings should be de-scaled and shining.
10. The house should be kept clean, sweet smelling and tidy at all times. The pesky last minute viewing could be the one, so always be ready.
11. A small bunch of fresh flowers near the entrance is very welcoming. You don’t have to spend a fortune on orchids and lilies, a few freshly picked wild flowers has the same effect and doesn’t look like you tried too hard!
12. Leave the viewing to your agent. The prospective buyer will feel uncomfortable if the owner is present. You need to make them feel relaxed as soon as they walk in the door and your agent knows how to do that best.