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The Pring Perspective

September 2016Viewing tips - Bet you never thought of these from MY perspective!

Stephen PringThinking of selling? Preparing your home ready for the market? You’ve spoken to the estate agent and he’s waxed lyrical about a freshly painted front door, the smell of baking bread and freshly percolated coffee before a viewing has he? Well, I have a number of little tips accrued throughout my 34 years as a local estate agent and if you are interested, here they are (warts and all!). It never ceases to amaze me that the smallest detail can sometimes have a hugely negative impact on people so when it comes to getting the very best price for your greatest asset, it’s good to sweat the small stuff! Now I know that with some of these things you will say to yourself, “Really? Come on Steve, don’t exaggerate”!... but I promise you that giving some thought to my observations and experiences will make you see things from a different perspective, the “Pring Perspective” maybe, and a higher selling price will be the result!

THE MOST IMPORTANT piece of advice is to de-clutter. Clean lines, clear work surfaces, clothes and dirty laundry not on show, empty rubbish bins and dishes not left in the sink or on the draining board are all obvious but so important. Please remove all unnecessary furniture and store it in the garage. Ask yourself, do you really need 3 sets of nests of tables and 2 coffee tables in the lounge? I would much rather see a garage stacked full of boxes and surplus furniture ready to move and a sparsely furnished house that feels spacious, than have an empty garage and a house full of furniture. Viewers always accept that a garage is predominantly used for storage and need no imagination if it is full, whereas they need to be able to see that the rooms in the house are light and airy!

I once had clients who steadfastly refused to make any concession in that direction saying “It’s our home until the day we move out”! That was true of course, but once the property goes on the market, you have entered a new zone where marketing and presentation are the absolute keys to success (and the best price). I guaranteed them that the day they finally moved everything out and vacuumed round for the last time, they would be surprised themselves at how spacious their home was and I needed their help in getting that message across to the viewers. Alas, to no avail.

It wasn’t the easiest of homes to sell (you’ve all looked round houses like that and you know what I mean!) but when I did eventually sell it and met the new owners to hand over the keys, they actually said to me “Crikey. I never realised the house was this big with all the stuff lying around. If I’d seen it like this, I wouldn’t have made such a low offer and I’d have happily paid £10,000 more”!

So that’s THE big one! Now how about these…

Please don’t leave piles of smelly trainers or shoes inside the front door for people to trip over. First impressions count. Similarly, coat stands or coat hooks in a hall or behind the front door, laden with bulky raincoats and puffer jackets – they take up so much space and really “shrink” the size of the hall which is the first impression viewers get. That impression needs to be one of light and freshness.

Please don’t shut all the internal doors. I’ve never understood why sellers do that. There’s a reason why show homes often have no internal doors at all. Leave doors open and allow the light to flood through the house. However, there is one exception to that… do leave the downstairs cloakroom door closed and whatever you do, ALWAYS leave the toilet seat down! Also, even though this is potentially the first “room” in the house, don’t make it the first room you show someone!

Be very careful with strong smelling meals if you know that a viewing has been booked…even if it is for the following day. Strong smells do linger, they really do.

Here’s a “man thing” for you (and I don’t know why) but when showing a room, a man invariably stands right in the doorway looking in, hands on his hips blocking the door completely. He then says, “This is a nice big room isn’t it” whilst the viewer is trying to peer over his shoulder or through the crook of his arm! Open the door (IF it was closed!) and stand back, encouraging the viewers to actually go inside the room themselves. Never block the doorway or stand in front of the window (therefore not blocking the light) and when you are in the room, always stand in the corner which makes the space feel as large as possible. The fewer bodies that are in there, the bigger the room will feel.

Here’s a funny one for you. You’d be impressed at the number of times that conscientious sellers do a really good job of tidying round before they go out and the last thing they do before leaving the house is throw clothes in the washing machine and put crockery in the dishwasher. Now that’s good thinking. However, please don’t turn those appliances on!

Many a time I have been extolling the virtues of a peaceful house and neighbourhood and when I arrive with the viewers, I am met with the washing machine spinning away at 1500 rpm, vibrating its way across the kitchen floor and making an incredible noise like a jet fighter taking off! The dishwasher is beeping at me and the tumble dryer is droning and rumbling away! Turn televisions and radios off. Peace and quiet sells houses!

Sports equipment! That’s another one. Running and rowing machines in the bedroom and chin up bars in the doorway. They are real space stealers and it doesn’t always create the best impression on a viewing when you warn viewers to duck their heads going into a room and then watch them trip over a rowing machine. Worse still is when the viewer’s unruly children then think that they have entered a gym to play in! Again, the garage is the ideal place for these please.

This leads me nicely on to ANOTHER BIG ONE…pets and children! They are SO distracting when people come to view. Now I know we all love to make a big fuss of cute dogs, small children and especially babies but selling a house is all about showing it off to best advantage and looking round a house is all about seeing if you would like to live there. It’s best if people can concentrate on the home and not the inhabitants. “He doesn’t normally bark or growl like that”! (That’s usually the dog but sometimes the children too!) Or “He loves to jump up like that – he’s only playing”! (Again, usually dogs but…!) If you are selling your house, it really is best to take pets and children out while the viewing takes place. Similarly, pet beds, feeding bowls and full cat litter trays…yes, I’ve had many a viewer step in them all accidentally! Please remove them as well.

If you are a viewer and you can arrange for grandma to look after your very young children while you view, I promise you it will be worthwhile. I recently did a viewing where the children were incredibly “active” and using the house like an extension of their play ground. The viewers were constantly telling their children to “behave”, “get down”, “stop squabbling” and so on and when I phoned them the following day to see if they liked the house, the conversation went like this:

“It’s not for us – we need 4 bedrooms”. To which I replied, “It HAS got 4 bedrooms”!
“Has it? I don’t remember that! Anyway, we need two bathrooms”. “There ARE two bathrooms. The master bedroom has got an en-suite”.
“Has it? I didn’t see that”. “No, I didn’t think I had your full attention. I think your youngster was jumping up and down on the bed like a trampoline at the time”!
I could go on but you get the gist. Finally, the lady said “Oh. I think we need to come and have another look. Do you think the sellers would mind”? To which I replied “I’m sure that would be no problem at all” whilst praying “PLEASE get grandma to look after the children this time”!

Now I don’t want to be all “Victor Meldrew” about this. Viewings are actually fun and I really enjoy them. It is really satisfying seeing people’s eyes light up when they can see themselves living in that house and they know they have found the right home to buy. It’s just that with a bit of forethought, preparation and teamwork, you and I can get your home looking and smelling its absolute best for the viewings ahead and therefore achieve the very best price possible.

After all, isn’t that what we both want?!