Although estate agents are always on the lookout for new stock, they appreciate being offered properties that are in good condition. Spick and span homes sell in a shorter time than dilapidated properties, and are much more inclined to achieve sale prices close to their marketing prices.
You only get one chance to make a good first impression, so your home’s exterior – including the main entrance, garden, driveway and sidewalk - should give potential buyers a preview of what to expect when they enter your home.
Unless your property is an apartment, the buyers’ first impression of your home is formed when they stop in front of your gate. A well-kept sidewalk, a serviceable gate and a recently-painted wall are indicators that the rest of the property is in mint condition.
Whether you have a small porch, a spacious patio or just a doorstep, a new welcome mat and an attractive potted plant or two will set the tone before prospective buyers even step through the door.
Through a buyer’s eyes
As a seller, it’s important to look at your home critically, and try to see it through the eyes of a buyer. Walk around your entire property taking careful note of every aspect - just as you did before you initially bought it. List any items that need repairing, replacing or cleaning.
Pay special attention to:
• Windows and window frames
• Doors and door frames
• Gutters, drains and downpipes
• Signs of damp on exterior and interior walls
• Leaking taps, water pipes and toilets
• Paintwork – exterior and interior
• Main electrical panel for rust or water marks which would indicate moisture penetration. Turn all breakers off and on to ensure they are in working order, and tighten all fuses. If the panel is warm to the touch or smells of burned insulation, contact an electrician.
And remember the roof - an important item that most buyers do notice. It may just need a good cleaning, but a new coat of paint - or, if really necessary, a roof replacement - could significantly boost your home’s appeal factor.
Flooring - You may be so accustomed to your floors that you no longer notice chipped tiles and worn carpets. But buyers will immediately spot whether they are in good condition, or shabby and stained. As a minimum, ensure all floors have been thoroughly cleaned and carpets steam cleaned. With older homes it’s worth considering having wooden floors refinished and replacing fitted carpets and chipped tiles.
Awkward areas – You may not be able to hide the cupboard under the stairs or the odd recess on the landing. However, you may be able to turn them into interesting selling points instead of disadvantages. For example, the recess could accommodate a small work station and attractive shelving can provide additional storage space under the stairs.
A lick of paint
“Painting the front door, trim and shutters is a great way to polish the look of your home, and a new coat of paint can do wonders for changing a room’s appearance,” says Mike Greeff, chief executive of Greeff Christie’s International Real Estate.
“Painting a door or a room are DIY tasks well within the ability of most home owners. However, achieving professional results requires time and effort as well as careful planning.”
He offers some tips for getting top results:
Colour and finish are the most important factors in choosing the right paint for the job. Semi-gloss finishes are durable and work well for doors and window frames, as well as kitchen and bathroom surfaces. Low-lustre flat and matte finishes are non-reflective, and are ideal for textured walls and hiding imperfections. These work well in bedrooms and living rooms, but for children’s rooms eggshell and semi-gloss paints are easier to clean.
Before buying enough paint for the entire job, take home a few samples of different shades and try them on the walls. Test your samples around the room in small sections and make sure to also apply them to areas that don’t get a lot of natural light.
Invest in the best paint brushes and rollers you can afford and take good care of them, so you’ll be able to use them over and over.
Other essentials include:
• Drop sheets - inexpensive shower curtains or large rolls of recycled plastic work well.
• Painter’s tape
• Paint pail
• Trim brush
• Fabric roller cover
• Paint roller frame
• Paint roller extension
• Paint tray
• Stirring stick
• Paint can opener
Before painting it’s essential to prepare the space to ensure furniture and other items are protected, and everything you need is on hand.
• If you can’t move all the furniture out of the room, move it into the centre and carefully cover everything with drop sheets to prevent paint splatter.
• Ensure walls are dust-free.
• Tape off the border around all areas that need to be painted, for easy trimming.
• Place drop sheets around the room so that they cover the space below the areas to be painted. If you’re painting the ceiling be sure to cover the entire floor.
Time to paint
Paint the edges first, using a trim brush. Apply paint up to 7 to 12cm around the windows, doors, ceiling, and skirting boards.
Use a paint roller to paint the rest of the walls, starting at the top corner and rolling paint onto the wall in a “W” shape from the top to the bottom A roller extension pole will extend your reach, making the job much easier.
Be sure the walls are dry before you apply the second coat. Paint dries relatively fast, but the weather will play a role.
When you have completed painting each day, be sure to thoroughly clean your brushes and rollers.
Once your home is ready for inspection, it’s time to find the right agent to market your property. The time, effort and money spent on sprucing up your property is bound to be reflected in the price achieved – and a shorter time on the market.