How can we make our 20-year-old house more saleable?
Make sure you have necessary records and the energy rating in order
A well-presented house with all boxes ticked in terms of paperwork and maintenance should attract more bidders and make the process of selling more efficient.
We have baby number three on the way and need to buy a larger house and sell our two-bed terraced house. The house is 20 years old and is showing signs of wear. We don’t have a huge budget, but are there any critical areas which we should focus on to improve the house and make it more saleable?
The staging of properties is now standard practice when offering houses for sale. This goes beyond freshly-brewed coffee, home-made bread cooling on the kitchen worktop and moving excess furniture and fittings into storage. The property should be presented in good order but as vendor you should have all of your ducks in a row in terms of the many consents, energy rating and records needed.
Start by reviewing any works that you may have carried out to the property. Is this work exempt from the need to obtain planning permission? Have you applied for and been granted permission for any alterations? In either case you need to have an opinion on compliance to demonstrate to potential purchasers that there are no planning issues that will affect title.
You should have your boiler serviced and the service record to hand to show all is in order. If any simple repairs are required to the heating system you should have these carried out and recorded on the service record.
If you have a septic tank have this cleaned by a registered contractor and again have receipts to hand. Make sure your tank has been registered under the 2012 Water Services (Amendment) Act.
It would be worthwhile carrying out any backlog maintenance, such as touching up decor, cleaning gutters and cleaning rainwater gullies, free out window casements and the like. I wouldn’t go to excess in correcting any major defects. Although these are rare in typical domestic properties, if there is an issue that you do not propose to remedy, I would suggest that your agent comes clean with regard to such matters when dealing with potential purchasers.
The legal principle of buyer beware means that a chartered building surveyor will likely uncover such matters later in a pre-purchase survey. This could mean either a failure to complete the sale or an unwelcome request for a reduction in price.
The property should be presented in a clean and well-maintained condition. If you have manuals or user information for boiler controls and other systems in the house then a small vendor pack containing this information is very useful to any purchaser. It also demonstrates a welcome attention to detail on behalf of the vendor. Label stopcocks and valves in the hot press if you have not already done so. Provide keys to internal doors if you have them. Ensure taps are free and shower heads are clear of limescale and have good flow.
The more preparation you do to your house the better it will look and this will potentially attract purchasers. A well-presented house with all boxes ticked in terms of paperwork and maintenance should attract more bidders and make the process of selling more efficient. If still in doubt have a building surveyor walk the property with your estate agent to put matters into context.
I wouldn’t rule out the fresh coffee and hot bread during open showings either. Old habits die hard.
Noel Larkin is a chartered building surveyor and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland