Monthly Archives: April 2016

Making your property more sellable

‘What people don’t like are DIY projects that aren’t completed. Don’t think: ‘If I put in new taps and a new bath, all they have to do is tile it.’ Anything that is unfinished is a real turn-off’

So says property guru and home-sprucer Kirstie Allsopp in this February 2016 article with The Guardian. It’s point number 5 of 5 myths when selling your home – that you shouldn’t leave jobs half-done when trying to sell your home.

My other half has got his apartment on the market now – the next step in our big adventure – but what other pointers should we all be following when embarking on this quest?

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How can we improve our chances at selling for a higher price?

De-clutter & stage

Emptying out cupboards and clearing all surfaces is on every list out there. It makes the space seem larger and the rooms look cleaner.

It also makes it a lot easier to clean – we need to constantly keep on top of tidiness, as a potential buyer could come by any minute.

The jury is still out, however, on whether we should de-personalise too. The Home Owners Alliance here say we should keep things personal.

I think one or two family photos and some small pops of colour can be great to show potential and homeliness, but I believe a room devoted to ethnic artwork or animalia can be too overwhelming.

It’s also a good idea to re-consider your furniture arrangement. Is that dining table in the most functional place? Do your sofas need switching round to maximise space? This is staging – not how you might live currently, but how most others probably would.

This website recommends to ‘get rid of a third of your stuff – put it in storage’.

Touch up paintwork

Are there marks on your kitchen wall? Mould in the bathroom? Chips out of your front door? Now is the time to get on with covering these up.

It might not be a case of having to re-paint entire walls even; perhaps a small touch of paint will do the job? This is an excellent reason to keep a record of paints you use, with samples, and to store those half-full tins of paint somewhere safe and accessible.

We’ve been rubbing off mould around the bathroom window and re-coating with paint for the flat sale.

Do the job properly

As quoted from Kirstie Allsopp at the top, do any odd jobs and repairs that could make the property appear unloved and not worth the time or money.

This can be making sure lightbulbs are replaced when dead. Filling chunks knocked out of walls. Changing leaky taps or broken window catches.

Worry not – this doesn’t mean blowing any money that could go on your next home on fitting a huge new kitchen or bathroom (unless it’s desperately needed).

Savills real estate services writes to ‘run a quick maintenance check throughout your home and get the tool box out’.

Tidy up

This goes hand-in-hand with de-cluttering really, but it extends throughout the property and out into the exterior space as well.

Mow a lawn, replace missing gravel and get some cheaper, blooming plants to pop into your pots or borders. Trim hedges. Sweep patio areas. Hide the bins from sight.

Indoors, keep on top of the cleaning, particularly in the kitchen and bathroom(s) where most mess is made. Put clothes away as soon as done with them. The same goes for books. Do it now, never later!

HGTV here suggests removing half of the contents from our wardrobes and cupboards, and keeping the remaining half neat.

Update kitchens and bathrooms

Having an overtly outdated kitchen, and to some extent bathrooms, can knock £££s off of a property’s value.

No major overhauls are necessarily needed. It could be less expensive and surprisingly effective to simply alter cabinet fronts or kitchen appliances (think matching or at least complimentary toaster, kettle and microwave).

We might just be able to replace the bathroom washbasin or toilet.

Alex only recently upgraded his kitchen and bathroom, and kept things minimalist, so on that front we’re quite fortunate!

Illumination

Lighting has a huge effect on our mood at all times of day. Bright light is ideal for working conditions, helping our vision and boosting productivity. Subdued lighting sets the mood for a party or romantic meal for two. Even lack of lighting is important, for optimal sleep.

Bear this in mind when making your property more sellable. Are the windows clean and letting maximum daylight in? If not, clean them!

Do you have fully functioning bulbs in your room lights for when potential buyers want to scour every nook and cranny on a dull day or evening?

How are your reading lamps or wall sconces? It might be pleasant to welcome viewers in at first with some subtle lighting, before flicking on the main switches.

Seriously consider adding mirrors where possible to brighten rooms, especially smaller, darker spaces.

Dress windows

If you have any bare windows – Alex did when I first met him, except in the bedroom! – get some curtains or blinds and dress them. These can be inexpensive quick fixes, or you could splash out and buy curtains you could take to your next home.

Alex simply put up some paper blinds that cost just £5 each from a bargain shop, and they’ve made quite a quick but effective difference.

According to the Home Owners Alliance, bare windows make a property appear abandoned, and I couldn’t agree more!

Remove bad odours

There’s that old cliché of brewing fresh coffee or baking fresh bread or a cake just before potential buyers come round.

But even if you don’t go down that route, we must eliminate bad smells at their source.

If you have blocked drains outside the kitchen, don your rubber gloves, roll up your sleeves and get unclogging. Pull out those soggy autumn leaves and decomposing chopped veggies washed down the kitchen sink…

It’s a brilliant idea to pour a kettle-full of boiled water down all plugholes once a week before sprinkling down some bicarbonate of soda, leaving for at least 10-15 minutes and then flushing with more boiling water. I got this idea here.

Only once the bad odours are gone should we move onto adding in good odours, although to be honest, I think opening windows and letting some crisp fresh air inside works wonders!

Consider planning permission

Alex’s apartment doesn’t have scope for this – there’s nowhere to extend to!

Yet many properties will have some room for alterations, whether building up, out or even down into the basement, changing the function of a space.

While you most likely won’t do the work yourself, given you’re moving on, it could be a major pull to potential buyers to see they’re already set up to construct that extension because you’ve obtained planning permission.

A warm welcome

First impressions last and are formed in mere seconds.

Remember, ‘The entryway of a home, whether it’s a back entry, or front, should convey a sense of arrival and welcome’ as Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook points out (p.253).

Paint or at least clean your front door. Get a new doormat. Sweep the path. Scrub the porch floor. Set out some cheery potted plants or trimmed topiary. Why not consider a wreath or some fairylights?

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And lastly…

Always be prepared. Potential buyers will want to turn up at all sorts of times on any day.

We can’t afford to turn any away.

We can never know which of those buyers will be the one to fall in love with our property and offer us our dream price for it.

If you want even more small and simple tips to try out for making your property more sellable, check out this AgentHarvest blog post about 50 inexpensive ways.

Have you been successful at selling a previous home or are you in the process of doing it right now? I’d love to hear any tips or experiences you’ve had – feel free to leave your comments below =D

Chicken fricassée recipe

This chicken fricassée is an adaptation of a traditional 1920s saucy dish that’s delicious and filling on its own, but which can also be enjoyed with a bed of boiled rice or with Yorkshire puds and roast potatoes.

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I added a bit more depth of flavour through the inclusion of hot sauce. This adds little heat, so don’t worry if you’re not a fan of spicy dishes.

Can serve four with extras, or two very generously.

Ingredients

  • 6 long carrots, peeled
  • 1 large white onion, quartered
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • Olive oil
  • Rock salt
  • Ground pepper
  • 2 litres of water
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 chicken legs
  • Chicken stock concentrate (I used one Knorr Stock Pot)
  • 60g butter
  • 60g flour, sieved
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ¼ nutmeg, grated finely
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Tabasco hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dried tarragon

Method

  1. Place the carrots, onion and garlic cloves on an oven tray, drizzling with olive oil and sprinkling with rock salt and ground pepper; place in the centre of the oven at 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 for 40 minutes.
  2. In a large casserole or pan, bring the water to boiling point. Add the chicken stock and stir in, then place the chicken breasts and legs into the pan. Cover and leave to simmer for 40-50 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through thoroughly.
  3. Once this time is up, remove the chicken from the pan to a cold plate, and pour the stock into a large bowl – do not throw any away yet!
  4. Returning the large pan or casserole to the heat, melt the butter in before turning off the heat again and adding the flour, stirring to combine.
  5. Carefully pour in 700ml of the chicken stock, mixing to combine all the time; you will get a thickened sauce; incorporate the two egg yolks.
  6. Stir in the grated nutmeg, dried tarragon and the Tabasco hot sauce (the sauce will not make the sauce spicy, but brings a fuller undertone I found).
  7. Pop in the roast vegetables and lastly the chicken pieces, before gently reheating the dish.

So what are you waiting for, give this simple but satisfying dish a go and let me know what you thought! =P

Recipe first published here in August 2015