Dress your house to sell

In a competitive market, property dressing expert Shelly Robinson of Robinson Stone explains how to achieve the quickest sale of your property at the best price.

Over the last six months, I've had countless conversations with people about what's currently happening in the property market, and whether it's a good time, or not, to sell. Much of this hesitation comes about as a result of the ructions caused by the Brexit process.

But let me put your mind at ease - talking with agents and drawing upon my own experience, the market is still seeing a decent amount of movement. Indeed, Rightmove recently announced that it has seen an increase in buyer interest and activity on its site in the first part of this year.

Where many sellers are going wrong is relying on a property's ability to sell itself rather than preparing it for sale. In the current climate, a poorly presented or vacant property will often receive little or no buyer interest unless you are offering a significant discount.

Initial investment

Investing 0.5% to 1% of the asking price into presentation before putting a property on the market is the surest way to see the best results. To put that in context, for a £600,000 property you should be looking to spend between £3000 and £6000 on presentation improvements before approaching an agent.

I commonly find sellers are deterred by making this initial investment. My response is always the same; it's easy to throw away money you've never had. If a home is languishing on the market for several months and you drop the price to gain more attention, certainly in London, you've just lost £50,000. For a £3,000 investment you are far more likely to achieve your desired price, and in many cases exceed it.

The amount you spend depends entirely on the property's condition. If the walls need repainting or repairs need to be made then you would be spending closer to the 1% mark, but for most clients we find that 0.5% is about right.

Property dressing

Property dressing has long been the norm with our American cousins and is viewed as a crucial part of the selling process.

So, what exactly is it?

This depends on the property you're planning to sell. For a vacant or ex-rental property, it involves hiring stylish furnishings that immediately give previously empty and lifeless rooms that wow factor. For a lived-in home it requires depersonalising the space, making sure each room is tidy and clutter-free.

When selling a property, I always urge my clients to sell the lifestyle that comes with it. This means that if you are a quickly expanding family with a 2-bed flat looking to sell in order to buy something bigger, those most likely to buy your current property are probably not going to be in your situation. They want to see a space that reflects their young-professional aspirations, which won't include children's toys scattered across a room or star-charts mounted on a fridge.

We never tell our clients to get rid of these items, just to be mindful to tidy them out of the way before a viewing. It's these small and relatively simple things that can make a tremendous difference when selling a property.

Emotional certainty

Studies have shown it takes just 40 seconds for someone to make a purchasing decision. It is therefore crucial to establish an emotional connection between prospective buyers and a space the second they walk through the door.

Employing dressing and styling techniques throughout your property is the surest way of cementing a buyer's love for your home. With over 15 years experience helping sell properties, I have seen time and again that those buyers who form a connection with the space are the ones most likely to offer the asking price or above and follow through with the sale.

In the current market, those serious about selling view presentation as an integral part of the process and ultimately, are the ones who can be most certain of a successful sale.