Ask The Agents: How can I make my house more saleable at this time of year?

Simon Buhl-Davis, Savills House Doctor says: The sales market is seasonal and January can be a quieter time as people return from their Christmas breaks. Buying a property is always going to be a big decision, and a huge responsibility, so when times are tougher, particularly in light of the difficult economic climate, it is essential that when selling your house or flat it appeals to the widest audience possible. You want to make sure that when people come to view the property, they walk away with an offer in mind.

On this basis, when we talk to our clients at Savills Interiors, our advice is to be sensible about the presentation of their properties prior to putting them onto the market. The onslaught of several years of television interior makeover programmes and design shows now mean that the possibilities to individualise a property are endless. As a consequence, we are also now a nation of budding interior designers, but we need to be aware that the shelf life of particular trends is getting shorter and shorter.

Interior design, like art, is in the eye of beholder and I have had many delicate conversations with clients who have spent a fortune on things like tiles, curtains, kitchens and bathrooms, which are not doing the property any favours. I have experienced one situation whereby a client had spent £300 per metre on a fabric for their reception room curtains, and the fabric choice was a very specific taste, which completely overwhelmed the room. It was the only thing that you could focus on, and overshadowed the lovely original period features and expensive wooden floors. Needless to say the vendors were horrified by my advice to take the curtains down and let the room speak for itself. After a couple of months on the market they reluctantly listened to me, and the property sold soon afterwards.

Not everybody likes the same thing, and for this reason what you think is ‘stunning’ could be the exact same thing that puts an applicant off  your property. With this in mind, it is advisable not to choose the trendiest, most fashionable kitchens and bathrooms in showrooms and magazines, as these will date very quickly, causing the property to lose value. A three-year-old kitchen in gloss lime green might have been cutting edge at the time, but now will have people thinking about how much it is going to cost to replace, and their offer will reflect this cost.

Most agents will advise you to keep things ‘neutral’, and although this has become a cliché, there is some merit and reason for what they are saying. The majority of applicants will be looking for a home, so it is important to ensure that there is personality in a property, but not too much and nothing overwhelming. Kitchens and bathrooms are areas where people are also concerned about hygiene, so it is best to keep it simple by using good quality fittings and fixtures that will last. Generally light colours
are most popular. We have seen a lot of beige stone bathrooms in very impractical limestone tiles that are porous, stain and need to be regularly maintained. White bathrooms look far more appealing and bright, generally cost less to install and will stand the tests of time for many more years, so unless it is an en-suite bathroom for a swanky family house, less is more.

The most important thing is to consider who your target demographic is, and what appeals to that audience, without spending unnecessarily in the process. Generally the target demographic is likely to be someone with a similar situation to yours when you first purchased the property.

For further information please contact Savills Interior Services on 020 7824 9088

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