It only takes a moment to make up your mind about someone or quite often, something. The same is true when it comes to a future home. Therefore, the importance of that first impression cannot be overstated. If a buyer sees in your property a place they want to call home, more often than not the price tag is secondary. When it comes to buying a home the heart often rules the head.
And yet there are a number of unique and universal attributes we all look for in a home. Time has changed some tastes, technology others. Thanks to the internet, 99 per cent of first impressions are now on a screen, often small and with poor picture quality. This means your house needs to look really good online.
Not all colours photograph well – magnolia for one does not, however white can appear too cold or clinical. Neutral shades with a hint of colour photograph best. Grey, and not just on walls, can work well given its recent popularity. However, if your house is north or east facing, steer clear of blues or greys. A south-facing aspect will suit a much broader pallet of colours.
The single most sought after criteria when choosing a property is a sense of space. Everyone wants their new home to feel light and airy. No matter what size your home is, consider the following when presenting your property for sale:
Less is more. It is important to completely declutter the property. In fact, even the utility room, which is often overlooked in the shiny glossy brochures, is incredibly important for family living. Everyone wants a room they can utilise for laundry, storage or just throwing everything in when visitors arrive. Keep it clear and clean for viewings.
Freedom to move around is also important. If necessary, pack the car for an hour, whatever it takes, but take away unnecessary or bulky furniture. Think of a viewing as though you are throwing a party – you want people to be able to circulate without bumping into tables, or knocking over priceless art.
Demonstrate space wherever possible. If a bedroom can take a double bed but you only have a single in it, get a double bed. People don’t see what isn’t there; they do however see that a double bed equals more space. Modern living requires space for allelements of a young family to co-exist and at the same time offer versatility to entertain at home. An open plan layout is preferable where possible, ideally with the option to close off sections or rooms as desired.
It is so important to sell the lifestyle as much as the home. Show buyers what they can have if they are lucky enough to own your property. If you have a counter in the kitchen, add bar stools, the same with a kitchen table in the dining area. If you have an awkward space or small converted attic that doesn’t qualify as a habitable room, no problem – put in a desk and show it off as an office, alternatively, introduce a couple of bean bags or a futon and present it as a den for teenage kids.
Despite the Irish weather, the way you present your garden can make all the difference. Again, you can do a few simple things. If you do not already have one, invest in an outdoor table and chairs, a parasol and a barbeque. Re-stain the deck and spend a few hours tidying the lawn. Remove or cutback trees that are cramping the space and tidy up flower beds. If you have a small town garden, artificial grass can be very effective, this gives people the green landscape without all the hassle.
Most people want to park at their door, so show that it is possible. Cut away any hedges that might block a driveway and if you have rear access, ensure it is clear and accessible.
Show that a garage is more than just an underused space. Buy some shelves and hooks and demonstrate that there is more opportunity for storage. Every household needs somewhere to put things – Christmas trees, sports gear, you name it.
The final touches
I would advise removing or certainly reducing any personal effects in the house. Leave just enough to reveal the property’s personality but not enough to overwhelm
It is important that your house feels like a home but the buyers’ focus should remain on the property and not the people in it. All the old clich
es definitely help, bake bread or brew a pot of coffee before the viewing. Flowers and candles can help to set the right tone too – but don’t overdo it. You only have one opportunity to sell your home and these simple guidelines ensure very little is left to chance.
Barry Connolly is branch manager of Savills, Dawson St, Dublin 2