What decor advice should estate agents give to sellers? 

Interiors expert and design lecturer Bernay Laity of Azalee Interiors regularly writes for the home design press and has appeared on TV.  We asked Bernay whether she had any home design tips that estate agents could share with their clients to secure a fast sale:

Think Basics

When encouraging your client to present their home in the best possible light to attract potential buyers, above all else the key elements they’ll need to give consideration to are: cleanliness, light, space and a fresh, appealing smell, which can help to ensure that buyers connect more readily to a property.

This might sound a bit too simplistic, but, get these basics right, and an immediate sense of ease and a good impression is created from the moment a potential buyer walks in through the door.

A good piece of advice to get your sellers in to the right mind set for an appraisal to make their property more appealing, is to suggest that they think about an ideal guest they’d love to have visit them at home. How would they want their home to look and feel when this V.I.P visitor arrives?

First Impressions

First impressions count, so think about the first impression they get from arriving to the outside of the house.

Front areas need to be really tidy and look well maintained. The grass should be cut, hedges trimmed and the garden weeded. Any outdoor tools, equipment, bicycles, toys and clutter should be stored away in a shed or stored neatly in a garage.

The buyer needs to imagine themselves feeling ‘at home’ – not in a ‘show home’. This kind of styling suits hotels, brand new or very modern properties and will appeal to a certain kind of purchaser. However, if the property is, for example, a regular family space, then it could make a buyer feel slightly uncomfortable if they aren’t child-orientated, so this may need to be minimised.

A home needs to look as though it’s been loved – not just lived in!

Make minor repairs – and clear the clutter!

Advise your client where possible to make repairs to any holes in the walls, door frames, windows and skirting. Bathroom and kitchen sealant often gets grey or mouldy, or bits peel off, so this will need attention too. Also advise them to replace missing wall tiles or grouting and to restore any broken light switches, pull cords and door handles.

Unnecessary or unused furniture, toys and storage items that inhibit movement around the natural flow of a property, along with parts of the house in disrepair, can present themselves as obstacles and barriers in the mind of a prospective buyer. This could put them off choosing your client’s home above a similar property that looks well cared for.

Advise your client to store as much away as possible, so that visitors get a sense of the space. If you’re client is a bit of a ‘collector’ and their shelves and mantlepieces are overcrowded with personal treasures, advise them to be ruthless and have a ‘cull’, or at least that now would be a good time to make an early start on the packing!

Get the light right

Allowing as much natural light as possible in to rooms is very important. All windows, curtains and blinds should be cleaned and in good repair. A lamp or two, lit in darker corners makes a room feel more welcoming.

Do they have to redecorate?

It’s not always necessary to follow popular thinking and repaint walls in a light neutral colour to appeal to prospective buyers. As long as walls are clean and in good repair, and the colour of them isn’t too over-the-top, most people are prepared to live in a home for a while and see beyond the current décor before they decide how they want to personalise it themselves. Assess whether your client has the budget and time, and agree that walls could do with a freshen up or re-paint. Or perhaps they could agree to at least wash them down and remove smudges, bits of old blue tack, picture hooks and nails?

Homes that smell, don’t easily sell!

Pets, smoking and cooking all contribute to how a house smells. Over time odours cling to the fabrics, carpets and curtains.

Carpets should be shampooed and stains removed to help eliminate unpleasant lingering smells. It’s always better to clean and properly air a property, rather than to try and mask smells with unnatural plug-in room scents that tend to have an overpowering smell. However, a good quality candle or a natural one, lit for a short while before visitors arrive can help tremendously.

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