Spruce up to sell in winter time

Winter shouldn’t be a bar to selling a home on the market but at this darkest time of the year what can be done to brighten viewings? Stuart Harris, head of residential in the Cambridge office of national property consultancy Carter Jonas, offers some advice.

Stuart Harris of Carter Jonas

Stuart Harris of Carter Jonas

You don’t need the summer to present your property for sale in its best light and while image isn’t everything, there’s no denying that when it comes to presenting a house for selling, collaboration with your estate agent is crucial.

Sprucing up your home to sell needn’t be expensive but some people ignore the basics when it comes to presenting the property for viewing and there’s only so much an estate agent can do.

The weather in the weeks before last Christmas was particularly wet and rainy and, if the pattern of weather in the new year follows that of the past three winters, it’s worth attending to what should be the normal, seasonal maintenance duties on the property for sale. 

So, the most obvious step is to check you gutters, downpipes and surface water drainage. Are they clear of obstructions and can the water run away freely?  Are there any signs of leaking at joints or overflowing indicating a blockage?  Is there vegetation growing out of the guttering or any chimney stacks?

Is there deterioration to the paintwork on window frames or sills – inside or outside? Look for any condensation forming to double glazed sill units. 

If there are, then it’s wise to get them fixed before, in particular, a viewing in winter.

If for any reason you can’t undertake this work, do make sure that your estate agent is aware of any property maintenance issues that have occurred since the agent was last in the house.  Then, at least the agent can field any queries from the potential purchaser at a viewing.

While we’re talking outdoors, look to the garden.  Rusting barbecue kits from last summer and garden furniture that you’ve not got round to putting away won’t give the best first impression.  

Sheds and fences must look secure and well maintained and there should be no piles of rotting leaves.

While it’s not expected to have an abundance of colour in your garden at this time of year, it may be worthwhile investing in a few tubs with some early flowering spring bulbs or winter pansies to brighten up what may be a viewing on a grey day.

Clean and neat are the watchwords for outside and inside the property too. 

Messy homes don’t sell. If you’re a bit laissez-faire when it comes to clutter, it might be worthwhile renting a storage unit in the short term while your house is being viewed.

Claims of the allure of the smell of freshly roasted coffee or bread or heavy scented flowers in securing a sale are far fetched but the smell of wet dog – or similar – can be off-putting.

Think about the soothing effect of light too.  Strategically placed lamps can give a friendly glow to a room and add to the feeling of ease if, on a viewing, the estate agent and potential buyer can walk in to a room that’s already lit as opposed to fumbling for the light switch.

Keeping a property for sale comfortably heated at this time of year ahead of a viewing is a must.  Having radiators on at a warm, background heat throughout the house is preferable to blasting out in some rooms and being stone cold in the spare room.

And, please, no washing airing over the radiators.

If you are not able to walk around your house in the shoes of a potential buyer, get a trusted friend to act the part.

Failing that, ask the estate agent but remember, any suggestions made are given as a property professional and are not intended as a personal judgment on you or your lifestyle.

After all, it’s in everybody’s interest to secure a sale, at the right price, as swiftly as possible.

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