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Your house is likely to be worth more money than anything else you own, and if you sell it you will, of course, want the best possible price.

But getting that price – and achieving it quickly – usually comes down to a lot more than putting a For Sale sign outside and hoping for the best. You need to pick the right estate agent, agree on a realistic price to put your house on the market for, and make your property as appealing as possible to would-be buyers.

It’s a daunting prospect for many homeowners, and sometimes expert advice is what’s needed to make the most of your property sale.

“In today’s challenging property market, knowledge is power,” stresses home stager Elaine Penhaul, author of the new book How To Sell Your House. “Savvy selling tactics are all about making good judgements when it comes to appointing the right estate agent and understanding visual methods to selling in a digital era – where more people are buying without even stepping through the door of a property.”

Penhaul, founder of the home staging company Lemon and Lime Interiors, explains there are three stages to sale: preparation, promotion and progression.

“With the right preparation and promotion you can maximise your asset in both property value and speed to sale,” she says. “Visual appeal, both in person and online, is hugely important.”

Penhaul says ways to make the most of your property sale include taking quality photographs, using videography, creating a social media strategy, and home staging.

She says: “Home staging is just one part of the marketing mix – it makes the home more appealing to a higher number of potential buyers. Creating beautiful, functional spaces that suggest a lifestyle for the owner or buyer can not only create an emotional connection for prospective buyers, but increase the probability of securing a quick sale for the best possible price.”

Penhaul says the secrets to a successful sale can be found through her seven-step ADDRESS system: Assess, Declutter, Decorate, Re-imagine, Emphasise, Stage and Sell.

1.  Assess

With your estate agent, work out who your ideal buyer is, the profile of the people buying homes like yours in your area, and assess what your home is offering them, advises Penhaul.

Assess the competition in your neighbourhood through a simple online search on a website like Rightmove, looking in your price bracket and comparing what you have to offer against other houses your buyer may be viewing. Then decide how much work you need to do on your home before you have any marketing photos or videos done.

Penhaul says: “Take photos of your home – what do you see? Create a folder of pictures that capture what you’re attracted to in the homes you view – what do they have in common? How much clutter do you have? What state are your garden and any outbuildings in? Will your exterior decoration prompt a buyer to view or just drive past? Does your internal décor appear tired or dated?”

2.  Declutter

Penhaul says decluttering is usually the hardest stage, and it must be done before decorating or restyling rooms.

Get boxes, labels and marker pens, then put everything into piles – ‘leave where it is,’ ‘keep but pack for now,’ ‘throw away’,  she advises. Then book a skip, charity collection or auction.

“Get the kids to collect their stuff if they’ve moved out but their stuff hasn’t,” she suggests.

Get the ‘throw away’ pile out of the house and off to its final home, decide whether you have space at home to store your ‘keep but pack now’ pile or whether you need to find storage off-site, and “clean and clean again”, she says, adding: “Find a friend, or a professional, to help – an unbiased opinion can help with speedy decision-making.”

3.  Decorate

Penhaul suggests painting walls a neutral colour for maximum impact on the buyer, and patch testing on walls, as varying lighting will affect the colour. Also consider ceilings, woodwork and external woodwork such as doors and windows as well as interior walls.

“Try not to opt for just painting one room, as this could make other rooms look tired,” she points out. “And complete minor repairs as you come across them – don’t simply paint over cracks, bumps and stains. You’re aiming to give the house a subtle, fresh feel to make it appealing to a wide range of buyers.”

4.  Re-imagine

Consider how someone else may choose to use the rooms in your house, advises Penhaul.

“Does each room have a clearly defined function and is it relevant to most of the buyers you believe will be interested in buying your home?” she asks. “If not, you need to rearrange your furniture to define the function more clearly. The flow of the home also needs to make sense – ensure the rooms link with  adjourning rooms and create an easy route through the home.”

5.  EmphasiseCleverly emphasise your home’s best features and draw focus away from anything that’s less than ideal,  advises Penhaul.

“Which areas are the stand-out features and what do you love about them?” she asks.  “Perhaps you have an amazing conservatory, a cosy window seat, a contemporary kitchen or a sumptuous bathroom?

“Then consider how to visually tell the story of these areas to your viewers – lifestyle imagery of coffee table books in a reading corner with surrounding indoor plants and light can give a true depiction of relaxation, for example.”

She suggests making a list of props that may be useful when staging ahead of photography.

6.  Stage

Penhaul explains: “Staging is where you bring everything together and put all your props, additional furniture and accessories into place.”

This may involve appointing a staging company to support you with furniture rental and props – Penhaul points out that this will be more cost-effective than buying new.

“If you’re staging your own home using things you already have, think about the focal point of each room and about how to create symmetry and balance for maximum effect,” she advises. “Seek help in creating the perfect scenarios in your home via a friend or your professional stager.”

Book a photographer to come immediately after the staging is complete, so there’s no chance of messing things up again, she says.

7.  SellEnsure everything is ready so when you agree on an offer, the sale can progress quickly. This includes appointing a solicitor, signing paperwork and ensuring your agent has all the documents and information a prospective buyer may ask for.

“Be proactive with your agent and solicitor weekly and ensure your sale has the utmost chance of running as smoothly as possible,” stresses Penhaul.

How To Sell Your House by Elaine Penhaul is published by Rethink Press, priced £16.99. Available now.



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