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How to get your house ready to sell

Want to learn how to get your house ready to sell? Here, we'll cover all you need to know, as well as some dos and don'ts about renovating your property before selling.

The housing market is a competitive space. But with our tips for how to get your house ready to sell, your property will stand out for all the right reasons.

If you’re set on selling your home, investing in some simple home repairs and improvements will help you to sell your home for the best price.

Here, we’ll look at the top ways of getting your house ready to sell, including helpful cost estimates. We’ll also explore whether renovating your house before selling is worthwhile, and which house renovations are likely to add the most value.

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The importance of getting your house ready to sell

Most home buyers are looking for a light, airy, spacious property that’s well-ordered and well-maintained. They need to be able to see the potential of a property and how they can make it into their home.

A property that’s in disrepair, untidy, cluttered, dark, and gloomy, is less likely to attract the interest of home buyers and could sit on the market for an extended period, potentially having to reduce in price in order to sell.

To attract plenty of interest in your property and command the selling price you need, read on for our expert advice.

Getting your house ready to sell in 30 days

Here, we cover the four main areas to focus on to get your house ready for sale. Use this as your ‘getting your house ready to sell checklist’!

1. Structural checks

A buyer will typically want a survey carried out on your property before they commit to the purchase. It’s therefore worth taking the time to fix any issues before you list your property.

This will help to avoid any possible delays to a sale when the buyer starts to negotiate a reduction in their offer price to cover the cost of repairing issues highlighted by their building survey.

Missing roof tiles

The key maintenance aspects to focus on before listing your home for sale include:

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2. First impressions count

Before potential buyers book a viewing or step over the threshold of your property, they will have cast an initial judgment.

So how do you make sure you create the right first impression and avoid the red flags that deter potential buyers?

Double fronted property exterior

A freshly painted exterior

The exterior paintwork is the first thing a potential buyer will see. As they walk up the pathway to your front door, you want them to be excited and imagining their future, not worrying about the job of painting the exterior themselves.

Having the exterior of your house repainted will give your house a new lease of life and maximise your home’s kerb appeal.

It will cost on average between £3,000 - £6,000 to have the exterior of your home painted. Your exact cost will depend on the size and complexity of the project.

Fix fences and gates

Are your fences and gate in good condition? A sturdy and stylish fence is the perfect way to frame your garden and will show prospective buyers that everything has been well-maintained.

The average cost of fence repair is anything from £40 - £1,839.

Alternatively, if your fences are in good condition, you might want to give them a fresh lick of paint. The average cost of fence painting when carried out by a professional is £175.  It will usually take between half a day and two days.

Broken fences

Tidy your garden area

A clean, tidy, well-kept garden will make your property a lot more enticing than if it was overgrown. A gardener can cut back any overgrown foliage, mow the lawn, and even plant some new shrubs to maximise the appeal of your garden.

The average cost of a gardener per day is £180 - £280.

Take a look at your patios, paving slabs and driveway. Are they moss and weed-free? Hire someone to clean your hard landscaping so they’re like new.

The average cost of jet washing a patio (depending on size) is between £150 – £350.

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3. Make your home appealing

When a potential buyer views your home, the interior must convince them that this is the right property for them. How you present your home will make a big difference to the amount of interest it receives.

Declutter

Lack of storage is often a major concern for home buyers, so if your home appears to have insufficient storage, this can be off-putting. Especially if it’s the first thing potential buyers see (for instance, a hallway overflowing with clutter).

Your home will also look bigger if it’s not full of clutter, so take the opportunity to have a good clearout. Hire a skip to get rid of items that you no longer need if they can’t be donated or used by other people.

If you have bulky items, consider renting a self-storage unit while you list your property for sale.

Create the show home effect

Think about how enticing show homes are made to look. Of course, they are professionally ‘dressed’ for the sale market, but there are two important things you can do to take a leaf out of their book when getting your house ready for sale.

1. Depersonalise the space

Potential buyers want to envisage their family living in your property, not in your home.

To do this, aim to pair the rooms back to make each space feel less personal. For example store souvenirs, collectibles, and children’s artwork away.

This is also a good opportunity to give the walls a fresh lick of paint in a neutral colour. Neutral tones not only create a blank canvas to help buyers imagine themselves living in the property but it makes your home look more spacious too.

Hire a professional painter and decorator to make your walls and woodwork look as good as new. The average cost of a painter and decorator is £325 per day.

A neutral living room ready for getting a house ready to sell

2. Define each room

To help a potential buyer visualise how they would live in your property, make sure each room’s purpose is clearly defined.

If certain rooms have developed a blurred purpose over time, convert them back to their original use.

For example, remove the office desk from the corner of your bedroom, turn your dining room-come-playroom back into a dining space, and make your spare room look like one if it’s ended up as a storage space.

Neutral spare room

Complete unfinished jobs

No one wants to walk into a house that could be their potential future home and see that there are unfinished jobs.

Not only do those unfinished jobs become their problem should they decide to buy, but it screams of a home that’s not been well-maintained.

Hire a handyperson to finish all those odd jobs and home repairs you never had time for, including hanging pictures, fixing broken hinges, and small electrical jobs.

They normally work on an hourly rate, so it’s worth getting a list of jobs and hiring them to do them all at once across one or a few days.

The average cost of a handyperson is £30 per hour.

It’s worth noting that most handypeople have a minimum call-out fee of £40-£50, so it’s often worth making a list of small jobs you need doing before making the call. 

Have a deep clean

A clean, fresh-smelling home is incredibly appealing to potential buyers. From the top-down, inside out, now’s the time to have a thorough, deep clean.

If you’re unable to do this yourself, use our directory to find trusted, professional local cleaners in your area.

The average house cleaning cost is anywhere from £20.

Some homeowners will book an end of tenancy clean as part of getting their house ready for sale.

Checkatrade cleaner helping to get a house ready for sale

Bad odours can ‘cling’ to furniture and carpets, so consider having them professionally cleaned to help create the right lasting impression with potential buyers.

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Is it worth renovating a house before selling?

As you can see, making small changes to your home is a great way to make it more appealing to potential buyers. But how about bigger renovations? Should you renovate your house before selling in the UK?

Well, the frustrating answer is that it depends.

If you have a house that’s show-home ready but the bathroom is in a state, then the answer is ‘yes’. It could well be worth renovating the bathroom to get it up to scratch. This can take your home from ‘almost perfect’ to ‘perfect’ in the eyes of buyers who want a home that’s ready to move into.

On the other hand, if your whole home is dated then it might not be worth forking out on big renovations as buyers will still see the need to complete work themselves. Unless you’re planning to renovate your whole property of course, which can be time-consuming and expensive.

Ultimately, whether it’s worth renovating your house before selling it will depend on lots of factors such as your property, your budget, and your moving plans.

kitchen renovation

Which rooms is it worth renovating before selling?

Wondering which rooms offer the best ROI when renovated or revamped?

You’ve likely heard the phrase ‘kitchens and bathrooms sell houses’. In most cases, it’s a decent theory.

Here are some of the key rooms worth a look at before selling.

Kitchens

Buyers will always negotiate the price down if the kitchen needs replacing. Normally, their estimations of the costs will be way more than the actual cost, which can lead to much lower offers than you’d get with an up-to-date kitchen.

In fact, fitting a new kitchen can add up to 10% to the value of your property!

If you have a small kitchen and dining room, consider knocking through to make it an open-plan kitchen diner. Remodelling your kitchen in this way can substantially increase saleability.

Bathrooms

Similarly, a bathroom that needs replacing will typically lead to lower offers. Making sure your bathroom is up-to-date before you sell your home will again increase saleability.

A new bathroom can add up to 5% to your house value.

That said, a common pitfall is not renovating to the right standard as you know you won’t benefit from living there before the sale. If you intend to cut corners, it’s better to sell at a discount than putting in a cheaper specification.

bathroom renovation

Entrance halls

Entrance halls are another important space to focus on, as this is where first impressions are made.

Don’t underestimate the importance of your carpets and flooring. And pay attention to the walls and ceilings too. Giving them a freshen-up to make them more neutral and appealing can help you make a positive impact.

Common pitfalls when renovating a house to sell

Keen to renovate a house to sell? Make sure to avoid these common pitfalls to make it worthwhile.

Dodgy DIY

Many homeowners are tempted to save on renovation costs by doing the work themselves. However, cutting corners can lead to bigger problems down the line.

We spoke to one estate agent who got herself locked in a bathroom during a viewing – the handle fell off as the seller had tried to fix it themselves!

Similarly, many homeowners attempt to lay laminate flooring themselves and don’t leave enough space around the outside, leading to a very bouncy floor. Some also try their hand at tile painting, leading to a dodgy and unattractive finish.

Worse still, you’d be surprised at the number of homeowners removing walls without building control permission, which results in difficulty when selling.

With all this in mind, it’s worth paying a little extra to get the work completed by a professional. That way, you can make sure it’s done to a high standard that will lead to the increased saleability you’re after.

In particular, always use professionals for anything that requires certificates to be signed off – such as boilers, electrics, and structural work. Cutting corners on these things will undoubtedly come back to bite you if a surveyor picks them up once the property is going through a sale. This can cause unnecessary delays and costs to all involved.

Individual taste

When you’re renovating to sell, it’s important to pick finishes with a buyer in mind rather than yourself.

For instance, a bright red fitted kitchen or black futuristic bathroom with colour-changing lights and sparkly floors won’t be to many people’s taste. No matter how expensive or top-of-the-range, buyers will still likely account for the cost of replacing it when they make an offer. Or, they’ll be put off making an offer at all as they don’t want the hassle of replacing it.

So, you end up in the same position as before you renovated – except this time, you’ve spent extra money.

Instead, try to make design decisions that are neutral and will allow buyers to easily picture their own furniture and belongings in your property.

Not factoring in ROI

If you’re renovating before selling, the goal is to add value to your home and increase its saleability.

So, you need to make sure you at least make back the money you spend – and ideally make a profit. Otherwise, there’s little to no point in renovating.

With that in mind, always check that the home improvements you’re considering will actually add value to your home. And make sure to stick to a strict budget so that you don’t spend more than you’re likely to make back.

If you’re unsure whether or not a room is worth renovating to sell, we’d recommend talking to an estate agent in your area. They’ll be able to advise you on what house renovations are likely to add value to your home and give you a rough estimate as to how much.

When is the best time to sell your home?

Springtime is usually the best time to sell your home. During this season, gardens are looking better and evenings are getting longer.

Estate agents will often recommend putting your property on the market in April, to hopefully secure a sale between April and June.

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Selling a house: viewing tips

With all the hard work done, you’ll no doubt be busy with lots of interest from potential buyers. Here are some final ideas to help present your home in its best light for house viewings:

  • Open curtains and blinds to allow the natural light to flood into your home
  • Clean the bathroom (including the shower door), make sure the toilet seat is down, and store personal toiletries away
  • Keep kitchen worktops tidy, clear the draining board, mop the floor, and ensure the bin is odour-free
  • Hoover your home and sweep the front doorstep
  • Place an oil diffuser in your home to create a welcoming scent

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