When selling your house, create a clean, clutter-free space that potential buyers can instantly imagine themselves living in.

Easy as hack

Have some similar local properties sold super quickly? Take a look on RightMove and see what has caught people’s eye.

At a glance

1. Don’t underestimate the importance of kerb appeal when selling a house

2. Decluttering is an essential step and can feel very cleansing

3. Anyone can learn the tricks of artfully staging a home for sale

Stress-free home selling

Selling a home is known to be one of life’s more stressful experiences. It’s partly due to the unknowns, including how long your house will be on the market. But preparing a property to sell doesn’t need to be stressful or expensive. There’s a tried-and-tested formula for how to help a house sell quickly that anyone can follow. And the sooner you get an offer you’re happy with, the sooner you can start looking for your next home. Yippee!

First impressions count

Potential buyers make up their mind about a place very quickly, so it’s important to get your home shipshape before listing it. Take half an hour to browse online at similar homes for sale. Consider how you yourself judge properties within a few moments. Garish interiors, untidy gardens, bedrooms cluttered with office and gym equipment. First impressions really do count.

A deep clean should be your first task. Don’t be tempted to cut corners here. Clean everywhere thoroughly including the carpets and inside the fridge and oven. Replace any stained grout or go over it with a grout pen. Again, looking at similar properties that have recently sold in your area will give you an idea of what appeals to buyers.

Next, make any necessary minor repairs such as replacing blown light bulbs or fixing wonky door handles. Consider repainting bold walls a neutral colour. Little things that you’ve grown to live with can really put buyers off or encourage below-asking-price offers. However, this is not the time to make any major renovations.

Only when you’re completely happy should you invite the estate agent to take photographs. These photos will get potential home buyers through the door. Once they’re through the door, they need to fall in love with the property as you once did.

Should I declutter before selling my home?

Yes. Decluttering can really help your home sell. A clutter-free home looks larger and allows potential buyers to focus on the property’s assets rather than the mess. To be inspired, watch BBC’s Sort Your Life Out.

Your aim is to depersonalise your house without removing all signs of character. Your home should stand out from similar properties in the area, but not in a ‘quirky’ way. Remove family photos, souvenirs, unconventional artwork and football memorabilia.

Buyers love to nerd out about storage so make sure you show off what you have. Remember to declutter cupboards, drawers and wardrobes. As a rule-of-thumb, these should only be 75% full. Likewise, potential buyers will check out any loft space and basement space as well as the garage and shed, so the 75% rule applies here too.

If you’re still left with a lot of stuff after decluttering, consider renting a storage unit while selling your home. The cost could be far outweighed by achieving a great final sale price. A storage unit is also a good idea if you have bulkier items such as bikes, skis and other fitness equipment.

How to stage your home for selling

Home staging, or home styling, is a popular method for helping your home sell. The Home Staging Association says that home staging can half the length of time a property is on the market as well as increase the offer value [1].

If a professional home stylist isn’t in your budget, some tips for staging your home include:

  • Set the table for a meal
  • Make the beds with fresh linen
  • Put fresh, clean towels in the bathroom, preferably white
  • Mark off clear ‘zones’ in your open-plan rooms
  • Add a pergola or similar if your garden is overlooked
  • Make sure your furniture is to scale for each room
  • Remove all TVs except one
  • Maximise natural light

What are buyers looking for when they view a home?

To help your home sell, make sure each room has a clear purpose. It may help to visit a few show homes to see how this is done, or watch a few property programmes to see how experts like Kirsty and Phil do it.

Bedrooms are more valuable than offices, so put the largest bed that comfortably fits into each bedroom. For each room, consider what the eye is first drawn to when you enter. Ask an honest friend to say if they can smell damp or pet hair, for example.

If an agent will be showing people around, make sure you’ve given them the answers to predictable questions such as how fast is the broadband in this area and what’s the water pressure like?

Read next: How to sell your house on a budget

Kerb appeal can really help sell a home

Many buyers make up their mind before they even get through the front door and 68% of viewers thought that kerb appeal was important according to the HomeOwners’ Alliance [2].

To increase the chance of selling your home, give some TLC to your:

  • front door, doorbell and doormat
  • fences
  • bins
  • pathways
  • windows
  • roof and gutters (remove any moss)
  • driveway and garage door
  • outside spaces, garden and plants
  • outside lighting

It’s always worth asking an honest friend to drive past your house and rate your kerb appeal.

Find out more: How much to spend preparing your house for sale

On the day itself

No matter how inconvenient, the whole family should go out for the duration of the viewings. This includes pets, where possible. Take out any bin bags on your way. If you have a car, remove it from drive - especially if you’ve used it to hide a few extra boxes of belongings!

Air the house and remove any smells by opening all the windows earlier in the day. For the viewings, however, make sure the house is warm including the entrance hallway and bathrooms. Avoid spraying cloying air freshener or burning joss sticks as this can indicate you’re trying to cover something up. Fresh flowers are always welcome and can be as simple and inexpensive as a few daffodils.

If you share a communal hallway, make sure it’s tidy and welcoming. Hide any unclaimed post and ask neighbours to remove any prams or bicycles. If your neighbours need sweetening up, the cost of a bottle of wine could be well worth it for an asking price offer!

Insider house selling tip: Tidy away any dehumidifiers or mould spray as they can put buyers off.

What’s the most popular month to sell a property?

According to RightMove, February [3] and March [4] are the best months of the year to sell your house. Homes listed in February and March sell quicker than in other months, closely followed by April and January. So, overall it seems that listing in early spring can really help your home sell. Buyers will be hoping to be in by summer so pay close attention to any outdoor areas.

Whenever you choose to sell your house, don’t lose momentum during the process. According to Chancellors [5], it takes 17 viewings to sell a house on average, so maintain your clean, clutter-free, styled home for as long as it takes. Good luck!

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[1] https://www.homestaging.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/HSA-Report-2022.pdf

[2] https://hoa.org.uk/advice/guides-for-homeowners/for-owners/kerb-appeal/

[3] https://www.rightmove.co.uk/press-centre/february-revealed-as-the-best-month-to-list-a-home-for-sale/

[4] https://www.rightmove.co.uk/news/articles/property-news/best-month-to-sell/

[5] https://www.chancellors.co.uk/resource-centre/useful-information-for-sellers/how-to-conduct-the-perfect-house-viewing