Splash out for a quick house sale

Paul Gosling on how to create a good impression

Forget expensive home improvements - what you really need to do to sell your home is give that old brown front door a lick of blue paint. A survey conducted by the Alliance & Leicester building society found that home decor colours are an important factor in attracting buyers. While brown, black and purple are a turn-off, green, red and, especially, blue are a come-on, particularly in creating the all-important first impression at the front of the house.

Although the house market is showing increasing signs of an upturn, purchasers remain fickle. It is known that presentation can be the vital factor in clinching a sale in the new homes market, and owners of other homes may have to adopt the same approach.

"Selling a home is starting to be about marketing and packaging, and it is a trend that will get stronger and stronger in the secondhand market," predicts Miles Shipside, the East Midlands regional executive of Halifax Property Services. "Our volume of business has increased substantially over a year ago, though this has not fed yet into price increases. Properties that are well-presented are selling very well. Those properties less well- presented are struggling."

Good home presentation starts with the front of the house. Replace dowdy and dark paints, but use plain and smart replacements, not something too bright for the purchaser to live with. Make sure that paint on the window sills is not flaking, and tidy up the front garden and entrance area.

"A lot of people will drive around before deciding which houses to visit," points out John Woodward, property services manager for Woolwich Property Services.

"So keep the front garden tidy, have nice paint on the front door, and keep the children's wellies out of the way. People seldom look at the front of their own house, so we ask sellers to cross the road, and think about what would put them off."

Estate agents emphasise that it is important to have both a tidy garden and a clean house. The prospect of prising off layers of old grease from cupboards and ovens is likely to put off the keenest of buyers. Clean homes, with the beds made and dirty clothes and newspapers cleared out of the way, also appear more spacious.

If home owners have not got the time to do the work themselves they should consider employing a cleaner and a gardener for a day or two to improve appearances. It is one of the few instances where spending money on a home might be recovered in the purchase price.

"There are virtually no capital improvements you can make that will get your money back," says Hugh Dunsmore-Hardy, the chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents. "But there are [worthwhile] things you can do for minimal expense, like decorate, deal with flaking paint and creaking doors."

The marketing process does not begin and end with the home. Vendors are more likely to make the sale if they are smart and friendly, and not too pushy. Explaining this to a seller has to be raised by an agent with sensitivity, if at all.

"We don't like to insult people's properties or they may take their instruction elsewhere," says Mr Shipside. "If the television is on and the house is untidy, how do you broach it? Our solution is to give people a leaflet, and hope that they read it."

"Try to avoid meal times for viewing, and not while you are cooking the curry or something," suggests Mr Woodward. "The vendor should show people round the house first, and then leave them to themselves - remembering to lock the family silver up first. People can be very boring explaining about the power points they put in, so don't labour on about everything you have done to the house."

Individual agents also have their own special tips to promote sales. Jeff Sutherland-Kay, the head of product marketing at the Alliance & Leicester, says little things help to create the right impression, and can make all the difference.

"On a cold day the house should be warm, because a cold house is unwelcoming. A vase of fresh flowers will help," he says. And he does not believe vendors should be above a bit of what might be termed cheating. "If you put a coffee bean under the grill it will give the house a nice fresh smell," he suggests.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £21000 per annum + uncapped commission: SThree: As a graduate you are...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn