You only get one chance at making a first impression, and when it comes to selling your home, that first impression really has to count.
With the government’s stamp duty holiday now in effect, more and more properties are coming onto the market, meaning your home has to do even more to stand out from the crowd. And according to leading estate agents, it’s that all important first look that can help ensure your sale - and your asking price.
Doug Parks, an independent estate agent based in Surrey, told MyBuilder that first impressions were key: “Everyone looks at the photos in the listings, and you can do a lot to make them look nice, use all the techniques and Photoshops, but if the buyers show up and their first reaction to the property is ‘Urgh’, then that’s the worst possible start.”
He added: “Small changes to make your home look presentable can have a huge impact on selling your home, and the price you can achieve. If buyers see a home that’s well-kept on the outside, they’ll know you’ve been conscientious and maintained the home throughout. It doesn’t have to cost much to make a few key changes, and in my experience you’ll almost certainly get value from it - and in lots of cases, you’ll add value.”
Car parking can be at a premium in many areas, meaning a driveway can be a real asset for a home, particularly if it’s well-maintained. Clearing out weeds is a simple job you can do yourself to tidy up your driveway, but it can be worth making some repairs if there’s noticeable damage to your drive.
Doug says: “A driveway that’s full of holes will put off a prospective buyer. If you only have to replace a few bricks or similar, it’s certainly worth doing.” An experienced driveway paver will be able to assess your drive and suggest quick repairs.
If you’re lucky enough to have outdoor space in front of your home, it can be a real showroom for your property. An overgrown jungle littered with old furniture will definitely set the wrong tone for any potential buyer, while a simple, well-maintained space reassures shoppers that a home has been kept up to scratch.
Fixing up your front garden doesn’t have to be a major landscaping job, simply clearing what’s there and laying fresh turf can be plenty to transform the first impression of your home. A landscape gardener can do the hard work quickly and neatly.
We don’t often think about things like our front doors unless something goes wrong with them, like a cracked window pane or a broken lock. But for a potential buyer with an eye for details, even a front door can help to set the scene for the entire property - even if it’s just background for a photo of the new owners smiling and holding up a set of keys.
“It seems like such a simple thing but a freshly painted front door makes such a big impression on people,” Doug says. It’s a relatively straightforward job that a painter can do in a day, giving a new lease of life to a tired feature.
Doug is also a fan of neatening up other paintwork around the home before a sale: “Like with doors, fresh paint for the walls or window frames if needed just helps make the home more presentable.” Paint work can deteriorate so gradually over time that it can be hard to notice when yours has faded or become damaged, but when it is refreshed, the difference can be enormous.
A full repaint of your home might be out of budget for getting your home sale-ready, but window frames, gates and fences can also benefit. A decorator will be able to give you quotes on updating your paintwork.
Something that it’s vital to keep on top of whether you’re preparing to sell your home or not is the state of the roof. Even a few slipped tiles can lead to water penetration and serious damage, which poses a safety risk as well as damaging the attractiveness of your home.
“If buyers spot slipped or missing roof tiles I think it raises all sorts of alarms about what else might be going on with the home,” says Doug. Careful buyers have a keen eye for glaring flaws that might cost them money down the line, so sorting out smaller issues can be key for helping them see the positives of your property, and not the negatives. An experienced roofer can fix or replace small tiles quickly and easily.
Sagging, patchy fences make our home look untidy, unkept and unloved. “I’ve tried to sell homes where half the fence at the front was missing,” Doug says, "and it immediately puts buyers off because their expectation is that there’ll be so much more that needs to be done.”
While they might be something you can live with when you’re in the home, to a prospective buyer, it kickstarts a potential to-do list that might put off anyone not interested in a fixer-upper project. You don’t have to spend a fortune on a stylish, hardwood fence to make yours look neat and tidy - a good fencer will be able to advice you on options and give you a quote for making yours right.