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With Brexit having ‘got done’ and market certainty largely restored at the end of 2019, you probably thought that 2020 would be a good year to put the house on the market. But fast forward to March and we are suddenly finding ourselves in an unprecedented situation that dwarfs any peacetime scenario since 1945.
As the UK along with the rest of the world faces the invisible enemy that is COVID-19, the economy is taking a nosedive, while people are practising social distancing and self-isolation in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Buying and selling homes is difficult at this time, with the government suggesting, where possible, home moves should be delayed and only critical purchases and sales should proceed.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that, sooner or later, life will return to normal and the economy will be showing signs of recovery - and that’s when it’s the right time to put your property on the market. What’s more, rather than glumly sitting on your hands in self-isolation, there are plenty of useful things you can do now to prepare your home for sale. Why not keep busy, mentally sane and physically active while you’re stuck at home, and take practical steps to put your home in the best possible position for a good sale in due course.
Now is not the time to involve an estate agent - they’re the relevant professionals to contact when you’re ready to sell, which you’re not. However, it would be good to have a benchmark of what the property is actually worth, and for that you need a residential property surveyor.
The surveyor will give you a fact-based, professional valuation to determine the accurate market value of the property. “If you need to prove the value of the property, for one reason or another, one convenient, quick way to do this is to request a property valuation letter from a surveyor,” explains one expert in the field. The letter acts as evidence to show how much the house is worth, and may be worth getting if you’re thinking of selling for any number of reasons.
Some surveyors also offer pre-sale property health checks, aimed at sellers. Their report will identify any defects or other issues with the property that are likely to be picked up by a buyer’s home survey. Crucially, it gives you the opportunity to get in there first, rectifying any small issues before putting the house on the market. And if any serious problems are found that may require substantial work, you could then obtain quotes for remedial action that you can share with the buyer. This positions you as an honourable, transparent and trustworthy seller, and could potentially save you both money and time during the selling process.
Whether or not you have a surveyor’s defects report to guide you, your next task is to make a list of jobs that need attention around the home. From overdue home maintenance projects to refreshing the overall appearance, look at the property from the perspective of a buyer and think about the details they would really like to see, and those that would put them off. Then take action to revamp your house. This could include:
Minor carpentry, electrical and plumbing repairs such as broken light bulbs and leaky taps, squeaky floorboards, sticky doors/windows and broken furniture
Repairing cracks in walls, touching up grubby paintwork or repainting in a neutral colour, or adding interest with a wallpapered feature wall
Get rid of odours, particularly those from smoking, pets and mildew. Air your house frequently; don’t just mask bad smells with air freshener.
Refresh your bathroom with new towels, bathmats, shower curtains and accessories, and revive your bathroom suite with new taps if necessary.
Review your bedlinen and throw out anything that looks worn or has garish colours and patterns. Do the same for soft furnishings, cushion covers and curtains throughout the home.
Assuming you have the required practical skills, you could also tackle one or two larger home improvement projects to bring your property up to date. How about redecorating the hallway - creating a fresh and welcoming first impression for property viewings? Take a critical eye to all your bedrooms and reception rooms and choose the one that shows the most wear and tear as a project.
Now is also a good time to get to grips with topping up the loft insulation, repainting the front door, and giving your garden some TLC. You don’t suddenly have to turn into a horticultural expert or start planting for an English cottage garden, but it is a well-known fact that a neat, well maintained outdoor space is an obvious attraction for home buyers. Plus, all that physical activity in the fresh air is good for body, mind and soul.
In the first instance, concentrate on tidying up the lawn, beds and borders, and prune back overgrown hedges and trees. Create a cosy seating area on the patio, make sure any sheds and summerhouses are clean and functional (you could paint them too) and add interest with quick fix solutions such as garden statues or ornaments, and impactful plants in containers.
Meticulous hygiene is front of mind for everyone during the coronavirus outbreak, so why not turn this newfound zeal to your advantage? When it comes to those all-important viewings, a sparkling clean home will appeal to prospective buyers and make the perfect first impression. Roll your sleeves up and pay particular attention to:
And while you have time on your hands, you might as well declutter your home to create that sense of order, calm and peace that your buyers will be looking for. From bulging wardrobes to overloaded bookcases, packed garages and attics full of stuff, it’s a good idea to go through all the bits and pieces you’ve accumulated over the years and decide whether you still need them.
Spending weeks on end at home doesn’t have to mean endless inactivity, and it doesn’t have to be depressing. Use it as a golden opportunity to give your house the attention it needs to bring it up to date so that when the world starts turning again, you’re ready to put your property on the market knowing that you’ve done everything you can to ensure a good sale.
This article is part of a series of lifestyle content pieces written for Moving and Improving by Annie Button. Find out what else Annie has been up to over on Twitter: @anniebutton1994 or visit more of Annie's amazing articles in our related blog section.
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