Dressed to Impress

As the property market bounds back this summer, blogger, journalist and author Kate Watson-Smyth reveals how to make sure that your home stands out in a crowded marketplace.

According to new research from Barclays Mortgages, lockdown has brought about a newfound passion for DIY, with a particular focus on increasing the value of our properties. Almost half of the homeowners surveyed said that now restrictions have been lifted, they’re keen to get their homes re-valued to see how much their endeavours have boosted that all-important asking price.

One seasoned DIY-er is blogger, journalist and author, Kate Watson-Smyth, whose Instagram account, Mad About The House, has inspired thousands of homemakers to pick up the power tools and get stuck in. For north-London based Kate, lockdown has certainly shifted property owners’ attitudes towards home improvement. “Three months at home with no access to tradespeople has made many of us more inclined to try our hand at DIY,” she says. “Spending so much time staring at the same four walls has also caused many of us to think about what we really want and need from our spaces. For some, that has resulted in a complete redecoration, and for others it has provided the impetus to deal with those boring maintenance jobs which have been proven to add value.”

But it’s not just our interior spaces that might need an overhaul. An inviting façade is a must if we want our potential purchaser to make it through the front door. “Kerb appeal is absolutely key,” agrees Kate. “Buyers are wary of run-down appearances as that signifies money will need to be found for repair jobs, rather than being freed up for exciting purchases like sofas and tables. With that in mind, make sure your windows are painted, your fences mended, and any plants are alive and thriving. If you’ve had a clear-out then the council will usually remove large items for a small fee.”

When it comes to selling houses, we all know that first impressions are not to be underestimated, so what can we do to grab our buyer’s attention, assuming they’ve been lured in by our attractive exterior? “It’s said that we make up our minds if we are going to buy a property within 20 seconds, so the hall needs to be clear and welcoming,” advises Kate. “Make sure the bikes are gone, the coats all have a peg and the shoes are tidy. A quick coat of paint to remove scuffs will work wonders. Buyers want to see lots of storage so they know they can fit all their own possessions in. If your hall is small and dark, think about painting the ceiling in a dramatic colour to add wow factor and make sure the windows are clean so the house feels well cared for.”

And as for the quick fix DIY jobs that might just make the difference between an offer and an off they go? “Smaller jobs that can have a big impact include painting your woodwork to match your walls, changing cupboard handles and creating gallery walls” says Kate. “All are sure to make an impact on anyone who enters your home.”

With stiff competition on the horizon, it’s important to strike the right balance between homely and pared-back enough for buyers to imagine their own stamp on our properties, so how do we achieve the right look? According to Kate, “gone are the days when homes needed to be painted magnolia and stripped of all personal effects to clinch a sale.” These days, she says, “buyers are more savvy and want to be inspired by the lifestyle they see, as well as being able to see themselves living in a space. If you have a fancy coffee maker or toaster, then leaving those on show can leave a subliminal message that the owners of this house will be able to afford the nicer things in life. Put some lovely shower gel in the bathroom and make sure the towels are fluffy. While lots of dark rooms may put people off there’s nothing wrong with splashes of colour and personality; this can entice prospective buyers with the thought that they too can stamp their personality onto a home.” 

Discover more advice from Kate at madaboutthehouse.com
For further information on Barclays mortgages, visit barclays.com