Phil’s Latest Guide To Selling Your Home

Selling your home this year? You are likely to reach for Phil Spencer’s latest advice on the subject, 8 steps to getting your home sale-ready – we thought we’d check it through and see how it compares with Cunningtons’ own handy guide to making the most from selling your home. Ours was published 2 years ago …

Phil seems to still live in a time when people only sell houses in the spring. These days the peak property market lasts a lot longer, so that the only months property doesn’t change hands are December and January.

Step 1: De-clutter and De-personalise

This has to be the most important step in getting your home ready to go on the market. As he rightly says:

“Buyers need to be able to visualise themselves in your home, so it could be worth going one stage further and putting away personal effects such as ornaments, photographs and your kids’ drawings. “

You are not just selling a house, you’re selling a lifestyle. Buyers need to be able to imagine themselves – and their stuff – in your home. If it’s full of someone else’s clutter, there’s no room for their imagination to inhabit it!

So do what Phil and everyone else says: ditch the junk, tidy the place up – and you’ll find it easier to pack it all up when you’re moving to your new home!

Step 2: Spruce up the Decor

This goes along with de-cluttering, so this should really be Step 1a. If you’re decluttering you’ll expose those once-hidden nooks and crannies where your shabby paint and broken fittings have been hiding.

“When your home is as empty as it can be, give it a fresh coat of neutral paint and get any dirty tiling re-grouted.”

It should go without saying that a blank canvas will assist buyers’ imaginations! We would also go one step further and suggest making sure that there are plenty of clean and shiny mirrors around so they can literally see themselves living there.

Step 3: Deep Clean

OK, Phil, I think this is the 3rd time you’ve said this. Obviously, you should clean your home. And you don’t need to hire a “professional cleaning company” to do the job for you. Unless you really can’t be bothered – didn’t you clean when you were de-cluttering and sprucing up the decor?

And you’re selling a house, not an oven.

Step 4: Don’t forget the garden

Of course, you shouldn’t ignore your green areas – though it depends on what time of year you are selling. A spring / summer garden may be a selling point, but it’ll need more work to make the flowers flower and the lawn mown.

“And position a table and chairs in a spot where buyers could imagine having a morning coffee.”

If buyers do see the garden as another room in the house, it works if they can sit in it and let their imaginations transport them to a warm sunny day!

Step 5:  Sacrifice your parking space

This can take a little ingenuity: but it’s worth it. In a world overrun with cars, your prospective buyer is going to want to have somewhere to put theirs – and if when they arrive they can’t park, they’ll imagine the worst.

“If your home comes with an allocated parking space, leave it free for prospective buyers to use.”

We are in total agreement with Phil here: in fact if your home does not have its own parking space, do what you can to ensure that one is available when they arrive. Park your car in a judicious spot, then drive away just before they arrive.

All’s fair in love and selling property, isn’t it?

Step 6: Hire the Right Estate Agent

There are mixed opinions on this one – obviously Phil needs to keep on the right side of the agents, else he’d have to change the format of his TV programmes! There is increasing evidence that you don’t always need an estate agent to make the right sale, but it can speed things up dramatically if you do use one.

“It’s cheaper to sell sole-agency rather than multi-agency, so I recommend staying with one agent for the first four weeks. This will give them opportunity and motivation to sell your property fast. Then, if you’re not happy, you can move onto other agents.

“Always try to negotiate on agents’ fees and have the final fee agreed in writing.”

The fact is that whether you can save on estate agents’ fees and market your property yourself depends on two things: how much of a hurry you are in, and how easy you find it to show other people around your home.  If you can wait and are a good salesperson, give it a go!

You will need an online agent, though, to get your property listed on RightMove. Something that Phil would rather not discuss.

Step 7: Get On Top of Your Paperwork

We couldn’t agree more. And not just because we are a firm of conveyancing solicitors!

“Instruct a solicitor to kick off the conveyancing process early. Ask them to break down and fully explain all costs”

If you get the legal side ready while you are finding a buyer and looking for a new place yourself, you won’t be held up with the legal formalities. Make sure you have already spoken to your solicitor and agreed all the costs before you get too busy with other aspects of your move.

We would also recommend making sure that your solicitor knows who you are and is available for phone conversations to make sure that nothing goes wrong.

And you should never, ever, ever conduct all your legal work by email, or work with a solicitor who is happy to do so.

Step 8: Be Smart on Viewings

Viewings are important, and when they start you realise that not all agents are created equal. If you’re there at the time, you can hear what the agent’s talking about, and you’ll know whether you agree with Phil’s point number 8:

“When it comes to viewings on your home, it’s always best to get an agent to do it – they know their job.”

So it’s your call. It might be better to sit quietly in one room while an agent shows viewers over the rest of your home, after all you know more about your home than anyone!

Phil’s Missing Step: Get The Photos Right!

And so we come to something that no-one talks about, though it is a vital part of both attracting viewers and encouraging them to buy. Photos.

Every estate agent will offer photography, but they often do not budget enough time to get the right photos.

And if you think about it, it’s the photos that get people to come and view a property, and it’s the photos they show friends and family when they’ve come back from a viewing. The opinions of trusted friends and family can be crucial in securing that second viewing.

Do not be scared of commissioning some of your own photos to add to the brochure / listing. Your estate agent will be delighted that you’ve managed to get a shot that they missed!

Cunningtons’ Own Guide to Selling Your Home!

You will not be surprised to learn that we have our own guide – it covers some of Phil’s Steps, but it goes a bit further.

We compared a number of free guides including those by Phil Spencer, Kirsty Allsop, Sarah Beeny and others, and compare them with the experience of one of our own clients when they sold their flat in Hove.

They followed all the steps in our guide, and sold their flat in December 2014.

They sold it so successfully that despite house price rises no other property in their postcode has beaten their selling price since. 

Want to know what they did? Download the guide for free and see for yourself!

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Cunningtons LLP in Great Square and Tofts Walk in Braintree, Essex, is the head office for Cunningtons Solicitors across the UK. Established in 1748, the Braintree head office in Great Square is still in its original offices. This amounts to almost 300 years of Experience and Tradition.

The Senior Partner at Cunningtons’ Braintree office is David Drake. Paul Fenton is the Joint Managing Partner. He, along with Johanna Withams are the residential conveyancing partners at the Braintree practice. They are supported by qualified Solicitors and Licenced Conveyancers.

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