Thinking of selling your house? 10 things you need to do before you put your home on the market

Are you thinking of selling your home? Here’s 10 things you need to do before you put your house on the market, according to this property specialist.

The property market has started 2024 in much better health than many predicted.  Property prices are stable in most regions, inflation is falling and the next move for interest rates is predicted to be down (but don’t expect this to happen till later in the year).

This more optimistic outlook has encouraged a significant number of new sellers to list their properties for sale, and if you’re thinking of joining them there are several steps you can take to make sure your property is the one that sells first. 

We spoke to Chris Hodgkinson, Managing Director of property buying specialist House Buyer Bureau for his pre-going-to-market top 10 tips. 

Tip 1: Know Your Competition

Chris says, “We all love to browse the property portals, so if you’re going to do it anyway then make it useful.  Find out what your competition looks like.  What do properties that are local and like yours sell for (look at both the asking price and recent sold price data on sites like Home).  You could speak to a few local agents to find out what people are looking for – is it garden space, or an extra bedroom?  Find out what could make your property stand out from your local competition.”

Tip 2: Get Your Paperwork in Order

Chris says, “Selling a house involves a lot of paperwork, so getting it sorted early saves you stress later. There are several important documents that you should dig out now to avoid delays later”. 

3 important documents to look for are:

– Energy Performance Certificate (EPC): This rates your home's energy efficiency, similar to a fridge's A-G rating. By law you need to have one available for potential buyers to see, so get yours sorted if you don't already have one.

– Title Deeds: These prove you own the property. If you can't find them, a conveyancer (a fancy legal term for a property lawyer) can help you track them down.

– Guarantees: Got any recent work done on the house, like a new boiler? Find those pesky but important guarantee certificates!

Tip 3: Embrace the De-Clutter Bug

Chris says, “Let's face it, most of us accumulate a bit too much stuff over time. Now's the perfect opportunity to de-clutter and create a sense of space. Think of it as showing off the full potential of your home and it means you have less stuff to move into your new property when you buy it!”

Tip 4: Deep Clean Like a Pro

First impressions count, and a sparkling clean home makes a world of difference. A fresh coat of paint in neutral colours can work wonders.  Cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms is a must, and don’t ignore things like skirting boards and light fixtures. 

Tip 5: Dress To Impress

Chris says “Think of yourself as a film set designer. Staging involves arranging furniture and décor to create a warm, inviting atmosphere that showcases the best features of your home.” Here are some simple tricks: – Depersonalize: Pack away family photos and unique décor choices. This makes it easier for a potential buyer to imagine themselves living there.

– Maximize Light: Open curtains, trim overgrown bushes blocking windows, and strategically place lamps to create a bright and airy feel.

– Arrange Furniture for Flow: Make sure furniture allows for easy movement through the rooms and open internal doors to create a sense of space.

Tip 6: Deal With Minor Repairs

Chris’ advice, “A dripping tap or squeaky door hinge might just seem a small annoyance to you, but it can scream needs work to a potential buyer. Dealing with minor issues shows you've taken good care of the property.”

Tip 7: Look At Your Curb Appeal

The first thing a buyer sees is the outside of your house, so make sure they get a great first impression.  A tidy lawn, cut hedges, colourful plants and a welcoming front door and mat can put a buyer in a positive frame of mind before they step through the door.

Tip 8: Choose the Right Estate Agent

Chris says “Finding a good local agent will be the difference between selling quickly or getting frustrated and waiting months.  Don’t just go for the agent that gives you the highest valuation.  In our experience they are the ones who usually take the longest to sell and get you the least for your property.”  A good agent will handle all the marketing, viewings, and negotiating offers on your behalf.  Look at other properties they have listed – do the photos look professional?  How many have had the asking price reduced? How many have been on the market for months?

Tip 9: Be Realistic with Your Asking Price

Chris says “If you want to sell quickly you need to price sensibly.  Unless your property has unique and attractive features that make it stand out, then price is the biggest factor.  Price your property sensibly to create interest and competition.  It is a good way of bidding up the eventual sale price.”

Tip 10: Haggle Like a Pro

Chris says “Treat selling your house like it is your job, don’t just leave it to the agent.  If the agent is earning a 1% fee, then a difference of £10k in offer price to you, is only worth £100 to them.  So don’t feel pressured into accepting a lower offer if you genuinely don’t think it is worth it.  Similarly, if you know what price you are prepared to accept then don’t be greedy.”

If all of this sounds like a lot of hard work, there are other ways you can sell your property.  You could sell directly to a property buying specialist like House Buyer Bureau.  They buy property with their own cash, and can complete the sale in days or weeks, not months.  The offer you will get will be below the full market value of your house but you will get a guaranteed sale, in a timescale of your choosing, with no messing around or delays.