HOME FRONT with Jenny Knight
For most people the day they put their house on sale is the tidiest it has ever been, says Jenny Knight. Until a sale is clinched they pass the time in a flurry of dusting and clearing up. There are just a few who leave the kids’ broken toys in the garden, the gate hanging off its hinges and grimy net curtains hanging. More fools them. Nothing puts off a buyer quicker than the suspicion that the property has not been maintained.
Estate agents are keen to advise on how to best present a house, from old fashioned remedies like baking bread and brewing coffee, to more up-to-date measures like ensuring the front door is newly painted and maybe placing some mirrors in dark rooms to reflect what light there is. The idea is to create an attractive but neutral look so that the buyer or renter can imagine what the home would look like once they have moved in and added the finishing touches.
Helping the new resident make that imaginative leap is hardest when the property has been empty and is unfurnished. Maybe it has taken time to sell and the owner has already moved to the new home and taken the furnishings or maybe it has been let unfurnished and the tenant has moved out with his belongings.
In these extreme circumstances home staging may be called for to give a lived-in look to clinch a quick sale or let.
Knight Frank, for example, runs Interior Services giving advice on the optimum way to present a property for sale or let, and offering furniture packages with tailored interior design. As they say: “if someone can see themselves living in a property then the job is half done”. Sam Sproston, from Knight Frank Wandsworth Common, adds: “Their figures for success are pretty staggering. You can rent furnishings to ensure you get a quick sale or let. There are different bespoke packages for different budgets, maybe just dress one bedroom and the sitting room, or do the whole property with art work on the walls.
Sam says there are other tricks to get a less attractive house changing hands. If a house is frankly ugly a computer generated image can be draw up to show how with a little work the appearance could be completely changed.
He says: “An unmodernised house can be shown as it would look if modernised or an ugly exterior can be pictured painted a nice shade. It can attract people to view and although when they arrive they see the place is ugly at least they have a good idea about how it could be made to look attractive.”