How to sell your home: seven top tips to bag a buyer

How to sell your home: seven top tips to bag a buyer
Christina Hoghton
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Christina Hoghton

February is the best month of the year to list your home for sale, according to Rightmove.

The property portal said that homes listed in the month typically find a buyer the quickest, and are most likely to be marked sold subject to contract.

On average, homes listed in February have taken 51 days to find a buyer – just ahead of March’s 52 days, and level with January.

An average of 66.4 per cent of homes listed in February have gone on to find a buyer – the best chance of finding a buyer alongside April.

February listings are also the most likely to go on and finalise a completion of sale, and the least likely to be withdrawn by the owner from the market.

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s property expert said: “The best time to get moving is the time that’s right for you – we can’t always plan or predict when a life move is needed. However, for those who are able to be a bit more flexible about when they decide to sell, the data shows typically the start of the year has been particularly strong.

“It’s also when we’ve historically seen the most buyers sending enquiries to agents, so it’s a great time for those looking to sell to make sure they are listed, their marketing is strong and they’re pricing attractively enough against other sellers.”

For those looking to sell, Rightmove asked a team of expert agents to share some mistakes to avoid and tips to help a sale happen.

Here’s what they said:

Seven steps to a sale

1. Don’t forget the driveway

Vaughan Schofield, owner at Belvoir Wrexham, said: “I firmly believe that a viewer will make their minds up about whether the property is potentially the “one” within the first 20 to 30 seconds of the viewing. With this in mind, the front driveway, condition of the garden, external paint work and condition of the front door are far more important than many people realise – in some instances you might have lost your prospective buyer before they are even inside the property.”

Hannah Towers, partner at Armitstead Barnett in Lancashire agrees, adding: “First impressions really do count. Some healthy spring plants, a clean-up of your front lawn, and clean drive and exterior will go a long way to helping viewers visualise your property as their dream home.”

2. Don’t think of it as a sales transaction

Lee Koffman, director & head of residential sales at Robert Irving Burns in London, said: “It might sound obvious, but people are looking for a home, not a business or just a ‘property’, so make sure it doesn’t just feel like a transaction. Having the heating on from the entrance hall and throughout the house for example can help potential buyers imagine living in a new home they can settle down in. There’s nothing worse than opening the door to a cold home.”

3. Don’t cut corners on decluttering

Lee Koffman, Director & Head of Residential Sales at Robert Irving Burns in London, says: “Invest in some temporary storage and make sure the home is clear and tidy for viewings – you want potential buyers to focus on the home and space, not your mess. Also, make sure to decorate the home in line with the season, to help potential buyers to visualise themselves living there. Carrying out viewings in the spring or summer? Buyers are going to pay extra attention to any outdoor space you have, so make sure the garden is presentable.”

4. Do present a blank canvas

Hannah Towers, partner at Armitstead Barnett in Lancashire says: “People want to see the bones of the property. Make sure everything is hidden away when the photographers come – not only will viewers see your home as close to a blank canvas as possible, but it will also make the space look bigger.”

5. Don’t have your pet roaming around

Donald Young, consultant at James Agent in the Scottish Borders, says: “Unfortunately, it’s a big no to pets and we recommend to sellers to keep them out of the way for viewings. Your potential buyer may not be a fan and could be put off by the thought of animal hair around the house. Even if they love your pet, the potential buyer will end up playing with them and not focusing on your house! We even had one viewer ask us, “Is that the house with the black labrador?”

6. Do fix issues
Lee Koffman, director & head of residential sales at Robert Irving Burns in London, said: “If there’s something simple that could do with fixing or updating, I’ll often ask the seller to do this before we take the photos and host viewings. It might be a minor issue – but potential buyers can get transfixed on a particular detail, and it can sabotage a sale. Don’t risk potentially losing thousands off the asking price, because you didn’t do a hundred pounds worth of repairs.”

7. Don’t overhaul your home
Donald Young, consultant at James Agent in the Scottish Borders, says: “By all means, if something needs replacing, do that. But please don’t spend loads of money on an expensive new kitchen or bathroom fittings just before selling. The purchaser may end up changing them anyway, and it may not add much to the final price.”