How to sell a house…

According to me 😀

Ok, so I am not going to pretend to be an expert in selling houses. But I am going to try and tell you what we have done – and what we haven’t – to make our house more sellable. Includes some tips from our estate agent too.

Declutter. I know this is the most repeated common sense advice that you will find in every single blog and website and forum on the internet, but we found that it’s true. It makes rooms look bigger. We took the play kitchen, excessive amount of computers my husband owns, his massive desk and a couple of office chairs to storage, everything smaller than that was stored in the loft. Toys, clothes, my guitar and my sewing machine, winter bedding, all in the loft. We used our cupboard under the stairs too, which was filled to the brim thanks to a broken microwave that husband insists he’s getting fixed at some point (and didn’t seem to put anyone off). The only thing that was out of place in the whole thing was my iMac, which is in a box on the corner of my bedroom – we didn’t want to put it in storage because it would make the insurance go up, and it didn’t fit through the hatch. Again, because the bedroom was mostly bare, it doesn’t seem to have put people off. We had agreed that we would put it in storage if the house hadn’t sold in a month though. So my advice is: one box – if you have to -, neatly tucked into a corner of a big enough room is fine, anything more than that, just put it away. Top tip: the car boot is fine for everything that you can’t find a place for. 😀

Décor: neutral colours throughout. The odd feature wall is fine, but don’t go crazy on wallpaper and strong colours. If you already have them, you can give it a go without completely redecorating, but the advice from the estate agent was that neutral colours sell. And not necessarily magnolia. Whites, greys, browns and pastels are all fine. In my house, the kitchen is green (Dulux willow tree), the hallway is brown (Dulux cookie dough), the lounge is grey (Dulux pebble shore and gentle fawn – is this grey or brown?) with a purple feature wall (Dulux mulberry burst), the bedrooms are lilac (Dulux violet white), soft yellow (Dulux orchid white) and a cool  greyish white (Dulux white mist – I used the same colours in the bathrooms too). So all neutral, not too out there colours (and to prove I don’t work for Dulux, I will say that my front door is Farrow and Ball manor house gray 😀 )

Wall art always help. Being creative with furniture does as well: I used a ladder shelf as a side table because I bought it for my bathroom but it didn’t fit – the website had measurements but not which measurement was which, so what I thought was depth was actually width. You live, you learn, you adapt. (Map is from Future mapping co., shelving is from Matalan – I had loads of people asking on Instagram!)

Use loads of natural plants. And some fake ones, if they’re good quality. You can get cheap cut flowers from the supermarket and arrange them yourself – I like buying from M&S because their cheap roses are nice, big ones and last very well, but Asda ones are not bad either. Also, nice light fittings.

Clean, clean, clean. I hired one of those Rug Doctor machines from B&Q – shop around for the shampoo thing that you need to use in it, I bought mine from Argos which was about 30% cheaper than everywhere else – and made a cleaning schedule:

  • daily hoovering (I have indoor cats, so daily was best for us) and downstairs + bathroom mopping – we have tiled kitchen and laminate everywhere else on our ground floor;
  • loo and sink cleaning every time I went in there – viakal or similar on the sink makes all the metal shiny and looking as new;
  • putting the dishes and dish drying rack away when we finished washing up;
  • windows cleaning once a week.

That helped me keep on top of it – even though I still did a major clean and tidy every time we had a viewing booked. Those would normally take a couple of hours.

Now, I am not saying that is the schedule everyone should be following – I know most people wouldn’t have the time and, actually, had we stayed on the market for a bit (or a lot!) longer, I don’t think it was sustainable for me either. I was constantly exhausted. I was a bit panicked and just overdid it. So, my advice really is keep you house as clean as you possibly can. Maybe just do one big clean just before going on the market and try to keep on top of it. Whatever fits your routine, really, but make sure it is clean.

Take pets and children away – if you can. We did view houses with pets in them and it honestly didn’t affect our judgement of the house, but some people might be different. In our case, we specifically chose a estate agent that would do all the viewings for us, so I would just pack the litter trays and put the cats in the car. When we had weekend viewings, husband would take cats, I would take child – or vice-versa. Once the cats and trays were packed in the car, I would spray the house with Febreze pet – when I walked back into the house, the lovely smell would hit me, so I think the viewers would get it too. Which leads me to…

Make the house smell nice! As well as the pet odour eliminator, I have a diffuser in my bedroom – one of those you put water with with essential oils inside and it makes the room smell lovely, and I also sprayed the mattresses, curtains and the sofa with one of those Febreze-type (the cheapo one from Wilko) fabric refresher sprays. I also used method spray and mop for wooden floors and it smells absolute wonderful.

Make your garden look nice. One of the things we noticed about the other houses for sale around us is that not much effort was put into the garden. I designed something fairly simple and easy to execute and husband did most of it himself (I laid the turf, ha). Our soil is mostly clay and rubble left behind by Barratt, so we used pots and planters, a few ornaments, an outdoor rug to hide the patio stones that I tried but didn’t manage to clean very well (don’t recommend Jeyes fluid, if anyone is wondering) and some beanbags.

The turf only cost about £50 from B&Q and made a massive difference in how it looked. July is definitely not the best time of the year to be laying turf but we bought a sprinkler and we were fairly lucky with the rain, we have already mowed it twice and it needs doing again. Just a word of warning for fellow clay soil owners: keep an eye on the sprinkler because you don’t want to get it clogged up.

The famous curb appeal. Our house is only a terrace with a very very small front garden (more a strip of land, really) so we didn’t have much scope for improving how it looks. I painted the door last year and this year I just washed it with sugar soap and cleaned the metal bits with Mr Sheen furniture spray polish (which is great at keeping dust off shiny furniture, I will tell you!), painted the fence and trimmed the bushes. We also have a small hanging basket at the front, I replanted it to make it look nice. The bins were put around the back by our garden gate. I also bought a new mat. And that is it. Luckily our neighbours have nicely kept houses too and, apart from their bins in front, everything looks quite nice.

So, that was it! I think it worked quite well and I am not sure what I would have done differently. I would love to hear more tips if anyone has them – not that I am planning on buying another house ever any time soon! 😀

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