Talking Points: Make an Impression

With first judgments formed in a matter of seconds, it’s vital that your home stands out, say the experts.

It’s said that the human brain takes just seven seconds to form a first impression, which is why good presentation is vital if you want to secure a quick sale. And as any estate agent worth their salt will tell you, those critical first judgements start before your potential buyer has even stepped foot inside your property. “Appearance both internally and externally is equally important,” advises Nibs Lakhani from Goldschmidt & Howland. “Make the front of your home look inviting, clear the pathway and consider repainting the front door if it’s looking tired. It’s also worth tidying up the hedges and clearing away anything unsightly, like the bins!” If your home boasts serious kerb appeal, then you’ve already got your buyer on side before your agent shows them through. Nibs has some tips to create a welcoming impression once indoors, too: “Place a doormat to greet your buyers, add some flowers and a large mirror to create a space that’s bright and homely, and declutter – a bright, clutter-free hall will give buyers a positive feeling and a great lasting impression. We would also encourage clients to carry out minor repairs and have the property professionally cleaned, especially the kitchen and bathrooms.”

Nathaniel Wilde at Hamptons agrees that when it comes to engaging buyers, good presentation is essential. “First impressions are crucial,” he says. To get your property ready to put on the market, it’s a good idea to listen to advice from an agent as to how to present it in the best light and achieve the maximum price. Honesty is key, and it’s really important not to go overboard. As a rule of thumb, it’s always a good idea to declutter, and in some instances, properties can benefi t from re- painting, possibly in a neutral colour, but a complete renovation isn’t necessary. I’m a big believer in advising sellers to not spend too much money before selling.”

Whether it’s a hangover from the pandemic, or simply the natural direction property marketing is going in, technology has a huge role to play in buying and selling houses. Nathaniel tells us that video tours have become more commonplace in recent years, “especially for larger houses where we will often do a 3D video tour,” he says. “During the pandemic we sold properties to overseas buyers who couldn’t get to the UK to view the property. A 3D video tour enabled prospective buyers to feel like they were on a real viewing, walking through the property from room to room, getting a sense of the space and how the rooms flowed.”

“Physical viewings are actually second viewings,” says Nibs, “as most buyers will have already carried out their research online and, armed with that information, they’ve decided it’s worth a visit.” Arlington Residential’s Marc Schneiderman agrees that today’s sellers need to be particularly savvy when it comes to their property’s online profile. “You get one chance at making a first impression and if the marketing material for your home is not up to scratch, your property may be overlooked and ignored by buyers,” he warns. “You need to create some impact – we are in a world dominated by internet searches and social media marketing, both of which rely almost entirely on reactions to images in seconds. One tool that we find very effective in generating a response is ‘dusk’ shots, as these are eye catching and impactful.”

The team at Octagon Interiors know a thing or two about presentation – they are experts at designing aspirational spaces for potential buyers. Rachel Hall, head of interiors, says that “for many of our buyers and clients, seeing really is believing, so furnishing a show home demonstrates the potential of the space, and giving buyers the chance to envisage themselves living in the home is key. From the placement of furniture to the  finishing touches on the walls, a styled show home brings the floorplans to life, allowing clients to visualise the possibilities of their home’s interiors.” Striking the right balance between a wonderfully homely property, and one that simply has too much of the current owner’s stamp on it is no mean feat. It can be difficult for a potential buyer to see your property as their home, especially if you’re a keen collector who’s into maximalist furnishings. There needs to be light and space.

On the other hand, an empty property can be equally off-putting, which is why Marc suggests that here, staging could be a good option. “We recommend to clients of empty properties that they have their property professionally furnished,” he says.  “Staging a flat or house which is empty can be invaluable in capturing the interest of a less imaginative buyer.” Alternatively, there’s always technology to bring your empty house to life. “One way around the problem of an unfurnished property is to ask your agent if they can get their photography department to create a CGI of a furnished fl at,” suggests Nathaniel. “We’re able to offer that service and the quality is quite incredible – you can barely tell that parts of the image are computer generated. And even though the furniture isn’t there in real life, it can really help bring the space to life and enable buyers to see what it would be like to live there.”

With eagle-eyed property seekers looking at the finer details, Rachel suggests that adding a few luxury touches can make all the difference. “To create a real wow-factor we like to add in a few statement furnishings or focal points to each room to ensure a truly impressive experience,” she says. “These could be a brightly coloured artwork, a textured rug, or even a specific scent for the home, ensuring we hit all the senses. Not only do we want our show home to be unforgettable, but we also want clients to come away feeling inspired.”