A-Z of preparing your home for sale


Our tips to achieve the best price possible by putting a bit of thought into preparing your property for sale.

It's one of those sad facts of life that a property often looks at its best just when you've prepared it for sale.

However, although it's a shame to have done the work for someone else's benefit rather than your own, it will make a big difference to how quickly you can sell your property - and the price you can achieve.

We all like to think we can 'see through' the condition of a property, but first impressions are important - buyers will be judgemental and can be all too easily put off.

Sure, at the right price your property will sell anyway, but making the extra effort can really put you in the driving seat of any negotiation.

The golden rule is to detach yourself enough to be critical when considering what might put people off. You want people to feel that you've taken good care of the place and avoid giving them any reason to doubt you.

After all, you'd never sell a car without giving it a good wash and polish!

Here's our A-Z of things you should be doing when preparing your home for sale:

A - Assess what work is necessary and make a plan to address it all. Time now will be well spent.

B - Bleach your bathroom and kitchen tile grout, shower trays, baths and sinks to get them sparkling white again.

C - Clean everything, inside and out. Dust and polish thoroughly and remove cobwebs and any signs of mould. Clean the oven and clear any gutters which are visible from upstairs windows. If you're selling a flat, don't skimp on communal areas.

D - De-clutter and de-personalise, but don't just hide it away (househunters are nosey and will open cupboards!) - take it to the tip or your local charity shop, or box it up and store it in the garage or loft. It's ok to have a busy garage - that's the one place people expect it!

E - Ebay anything you haven't used in years. It will help de-clutter and you might earn a few pounds to put towards the cost of decorating.

F - First impressions count, so complete any unfinished jobs, making any minor repairs and tidy up outside the front.

G - Get your garden sorted. Tidy up by removing children's toys, mowing the lawn, trimming the hedges and weeding the driveway. Consider planting a few cheap bedding plants if it's the right time of year. Make it easy for buyers to imagine themselves enjoying the outside space.

H - Make your property feel homely. A house is one thing, but it's a home that people will fall in love with.

I- Illustrate how people can expect to use the property themselves by giving each room a purpose.

J - Judge carefully when to stop. Unless there's a DIY nightmare to fix, you should only really be expecting to splash out on a few tins of paint. Your aim here is to resolve issues by investing a little time and money wisely.

K - Kerb Appeal is hugely important to ensure that people looking at your property online or driving past will want to book a viewing. Move bins, mow verges and make sure your property compares well with the rest of the street.

L - Light and air in a property never goes unnoticed. Replace all dead lightbulbs and use lamps to soften sitting room lighting in particular.

M - Matching towels and wall fittings in bathrooms may seem like a small thing, but it will help to give a good impression!

N - Neutralise any odours. Smoking and dogs are probably the most obvious ones, so open the windows to air the property and either invest in some plug in air fresheners or light a good quality scented candle in advance. You may want to consider smoking only outside until you've moved.

O - Organise! Lots of people are looking for extra space when they move, so give your storage a once-over and maximise the potential space you have. In particular, keep kitchen work surfaces clear of everything you can.

P - Paint tired walls and woodwork with light and neutral colours. It may not be your taste, but it's much better to be too bland than too bold. Remove posters and fix blu-tack marks and pin holes. Fill and paint any cracks.

Q - Quotes for a mortgage should be arranged and you should also get an agreement in principle. This will help you negotiate from a position of strength in your next purchase.

R - Research your own move. When you do put your property on the market, you should expect to sell it before an agent takes any offer from you on your next property seriously. Do your sums and be confident that it's possible to afford the type and size of property you need in the areas you like.

S - Secure your valuables in a safe or locked drawer. Problems at viewings are very rare, but if you remove any possibility of temptation, you will feel happier letting people view.

T - Toilet lids should always be left down - you'd be surprised how off-putting some people find this!

U - Update any curtains and carpets which are on their last legs. You can carpet a typical three bed house for £1500 and it will make a great first impression.

V - Valuations by two to three estate agents will help you to determine the value of your property. Look at the competition on Rightmove and Zoopla too (though take Zoopla's valuation with a large pinch of salt!)

W - Windows should be cleaned and clear to see through. The Karcher Window Vacuum does a fantastic job, but if you're happy to use elbow grease, so does old newspaper. Clean windows will let a lot more light in to help your property feel bright and airy.

X - Expertise is something your estate agent has when it comes to viewings, so it's best to leave it in their capable hands when possible. Most potential buyers also prefer not to feel the owner of the house is watching their reactions or listening to the work they would do to the property.

Y - Yellow is often thought to evoke positive, happy feelings, so try a few fresh yellow flowers as finishing touches!

Z - Zealousy, review everything you have done. Ask friends and family to help you be critical.

It's much better to prepare a property for sale pro-actively, than it is to wait until the property has failed to generate sufficient interest. As with all things, you only get one chance to make a great first impression!