The next few months will be defined by our ability to adapt and innovate through every aspect of business and daily life. Buying or selling a property is no different. We understand that people may be unsure about a home move, and while it’s not quite ‘business as usual’, there’s still plenty of things you can do to stay proactive during this time of uncertainty. After all, new challenges bring new opportunities, so here’s how to make the most of the coming months according to our property specalists.
Property advice for sellers
Crucially, don’t take your home off the market
Because everyone now has more time on their hands, it’s a bit like Boxing Day – this will be one of the busiest times when people look on the web to see what’s out there – so be available to ensure that you get their attention.
Declutter during downtime
This time at home is giving people the perfect chance to reconnect with their houses. Clearing out the cellar and sorting the loft out, for instance, make the spaces much easier to show in the future. You can also probably find loads of things that you no longer need and can sell on eBay! You managed to live without them for the last 2 or 3 years, so why not permanently!
Re-arrange your rooms to find the optimal layout
As we are all spending much more time in our homes, this presents a great opportunity to rearrange your rooms to make them appear as spacious as possible.
Do those small jobs you’ve been putting off
Little DIY jobs can easily be done, for example hanging pictures, touching up paintwork, and sorting out the garden all will be hugely beneficial to you when it comes to selling.
Make sure you have just the right amount of furniture/chattels in a property
Too much and the property feels cluttered and cramped. Too little and people often struggle to imagine if the furniture will fit, particularly in bedrooms. This is particularly important in the entrance hall as first impressions really count so make sure it is as clear as possible. You only need a small amount of the main pieces of furniture, so consider how easily people can walk around the property without being inhibited by things jutting out.
Utilise your storage space effectively
You should carry on living your life in the property as normal, but where possible pack up the children’s plastic and smaller things and pop them in the loft or garage. Garages are pretty much ground floor lofts these days so feel to cram as much in them as possible. Buyers generally don’t care if the garage is packed.
Make things light and airy
Ensure you use this time to replace all the lightbulbs and clean the windows to make the property seem as light and bright as possible.
I’m encouraging my clients to do video walk-through tours of their homes on their iPads or smartphones. By doing this they can capture the lifestyle element of a property that isn’t always conveyed through professional brochure and website images. I then share these videos with prospective buyers in the hope they will be able to appreciate how the current owners use the space, how families can interact in the context of the property, and perhaps how the property is being looked after or updates on DIY jobs etc. Once the impacts of Coronavirus and social distancing begin to ease, potential buyers that have received such videos via email or WhatsApp can then confidently decide whether or not they’re interested in a physical viewing. So far, sellers have been grateful for the opportunity and keen to take part.
Consider starting some longer-term projects to add value to your home
With extra time on our hands, it might be worth considering what improvements you could make to your home that could add value when you come round to eventually selling. Although you might not be able to get started on some of them straight away, researching and putting plans in place for when restrictions are lifted could be beneficial and start the ball rolling for eventually putting your property on the market.
- Installing a terrace within easy reach of the kitchen for a comfortable outdoor seating/entertaining area
- Converting outbuildings to a games room, garage, annexe etc.
- Updating bathrooms/ en-suites
Enhance your property’s first impression
I would suggest that sellers consider sprucing up the exterior of the property e.g. have gates repainted, tidy up driveways (weeds, moss etc.) and get front gardens in the best shape they can. Over the coming months, as restrictions hopefully begin to relax in stages (in the same way they have been introduced) people may not initially be encouraged to view and go inside properties, therefore drive-bys may become the first touchpoint. As a result, I can imagine really keen buyers building a list of potential houses that they will want to do initial drive-bys for, which is why ensuring the first impressions of your property are as close to perfect as possible will become increasingly important.
Property advice for buyers
Research new locations
This is the perfect opportunity to research new areas that you hadn’t previously considered, especially those that are adjacent to areas you like, but are priced out of. If you want to buy in Bermondsey or Shad Thames for example, consider looking at Deptford. Priced out of Richmond or Chiswick? Take a look at Brentford. You can also use this time to look at areas where regeneration projects are underway, as new transport links and facilities are of course attractive and will add value in the long term.
Use this time to work out what is really important to you in a property
People often discount properties because they are ground floor, but they tend to be cheaper and give you better access to outside space, so don’t discount them automatically. Similarly, look at lower ground, people assume them to be dark, but with modern building techniques, there are clever design features to make places benefit from natural light even when subterranean.
Utilise agency knowledge
You can get lots of time from agents at the moment, and they will be happy to talk all about areas, historical sales etc. Make the most of the mountain of knowledge that agents have to offer.
Use the time to think, reflect and ask for advice
In a usually very fast-paced and demanding world, the extra time on everyone’s hands offers a real opportunity to not only get to know ourselves a little better but also take a step back and have a think about your plans and movements over the next coming months and years. This may, in turn, include moving home, and with agents ready to chat at the end of the phone, it’s worth utilising the additional time they’ve got whilst not out conducting viewings to put your heads together and put some thought into what your future property search may entail.
Form a plan of action for when things begin to return to normal
I’d recommend that buyers who are keen to find a property keep an eye on Rightmove, ‘save’ any property that may be of interest to them, and perhaps contact the agent to register their interest. Also, calling or emailing agents with your list of property search requirements is useful so that when properties start coming to the market you will start receiving notifications. Even if you’re not quite at that stage yet, it still might be worth a call to talk through the details of local areas etc. By taking these initial steps while you’re home, you will be ready to start viewings once restrictions are lifted.