I don’t know why but when I am out viewing on behalf of clients searching for property in Devon, approaching houses which have faded peeling paint on the door or an overgrown garden that looks as though an elephant rifle would be more useful than a pair of secateurs, I can feel despair well before I have taken the first step over the threshold.
For me a house or more importantly a home is like a car and requires regular attention to keep it looking at its best as well as keeping the structure sufficiently sound to repel the elements. A poor state of repair outside suggests worse is to come inside and paints a vivid picture, for me anyway, of how the house has been looked after by the seller.
We have recently updated the exterior of our own Devon cottage as it was looking tired and needed refreshing. The black door and porch has gone with a more subtle green in its place and the clean all white exterior now shines like a beacon in the low autumnal sun. The exterior matches the cosmetic improvements already made inside and almost brings our work to a close, for the time being anyway.
Over the years we have bought a few houses that needed “updating” and due to my nomadic career trail always worked on the view that if we ever need to move quickly, presenting the property in a good condition would help it sell sooner rather than later. A perfect illustration of this was a house in Somerset which we happily sold to the assistant of an agent who had valued it two days previously.
But the best example of all would be our cottage in East Devon which we sold in a day.
I was being relocated yet again and an animated early morning negotiation with a Honiton agent over his sales commission on the mobile phone before entering my new office 120 miles away led to me giving him the sole marketing opportunity. A soon to retire couple who had sold their property in Sussex and almost completed an unsuccessful frustrating week house hunting in Devon called in to the Honiton office the same day on their way back to the South East on the off chance something new had come in. At this point I should say it is arguable they would have benefited from the services of a property finder but then I would say that wouldn’t I.
He showed them the as yet unfinished brochure and a viewing was arranged for that afternoon. The following morning after a little more discussion the house was sold for the full asking price. It could be said to be karma but I like to believe the overall condition due to the work carried out had made all the difference.
The importance of that first impression cannot be overestimated. It is a bit like interviewing people for a new role where the interviewer is said to have made up their mind within seconds of the person entering the room and I have been involved with a few of those over the years.
Simple things like a recently mown lawn, clean drive, trimmed hedge, bins out of sight and if possible a coat of paint on the front door or a wipe down at least make a big difference and will pay dividends. A broken toilet seat or shower that doesn’t work sends out the wrong message. On one memorable occasion viewing a property I stepped into a large hole in the rotten wooden floor on a first floor landing that had been covered over with a piece of carpet. “Don’t worry about that, it has been like it for ages” said the vendor cheerfully as he showed me around.
So just my thoughts today on what a difference a well presented property makes, especially to me, when viewing what may be a dream home for one of my clients.
People talk about not being able “to see the wood for the trees” or as Robert Burns wrote in 1786 “O wad some pow’r the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!” Often we can look at the same thing every day without really seeing it at all.
If you are selling a property try to take a fresh look at how it might appear to others. A little bit of time spent on some of the “quick wins” could be the difference between securing a quick sale or spending months on the market.
Trust me, it really can have a big effect on your potential purchaser.