Messy and cluttered rooms make it harder to sell your home and could cut the selling price.
That’s the conclusion of research released yesterday by ING Direct, the savings bank. The results suggest that a messy kids bedroom can cut the selling price of a home by 5 per cent and that 41 per cent of buyers would be put off buying by a messy bedroom.
Keep it clean, keep it clear
That won’t come as a surprise to selling agents, but it is astonishing how many sellers are reluctant to tidy up and de-clutter before their home is advertised for sale.
Of course, your home reflects your personality and your preferences, so being asked to change can seem close to an insult. But you are selling a property, not your lifestyle and the more your home reflects your personality, the more likely it is that some buyers won’t like it.
Ditch the teddy bear
For many years, I took photographs of homes for sale on a regular basis. Time and again, one of the bedrooms would have a teddy bear on the bed and time and again I moved it before I took the photograph. Very often, the seller would be offended. They believed that a toy bear portrayed them as ‘nice’ people; caring, affectionate and dependable. Some buyers may indeed have seen them in that light, but there would be others who saw the bear as a sign of immaturity.
Since you don’t know who your eventual buyer is going to be, it’s just as well not risking alienating the person most likely to put in the best offer. So, ditch the teddy – however much you love it.
Bedrooms are just the tip of the iceberg, however. Bathrooms and Kitchens are arguably much more important. The same research shows that 65 per cent of buyers are put off by smelly bathrooms and 59 per cent by grubby bathrooms.
Rule 1: keep it clean. If you are selling your home or about to put your home on the market, give your main rooms a real deep clean. That means shampooing carpets, polishing bathroom and kitchen fittings, cleaning (and possibly re-grouting) tiles. Do more than is necessary – you can’t go over the top here. If you really can’t stand doing it yourself, get in professionals to do it for you.
Rule 2: get rid of ‘clutter’. Lots of sellers agree with this in principle but conclude that their own possessions are so lovely that they will enhance the prospects of a sale. So, for the purposes of de-cluttering, define clutter as the possessions you most like and are most proud of. Those china figurines on the mantelpiece? Put them away somewhere safe. The beautiful plant cuttings on the window ledge? Ask a neighbour to look after them. In the kitchen, leave the work surface as clear as possible – even if it means putting away things that you like and use often.
Now I know this sounds excessive and I know that buyers ought to be able to see the main features of the house and ignore the things that you will take with you. But the overwhelming evidence from research and from the personal experience of every selling agent is that superficial aspects of presentation have a huge subconscious impact on buyers.
Buying a home is essentially an emotional act. We all want to ‘fall in love’ with our home and find ‘the right one’ for us. And everything you display in your home will have an effect on the emotional response of buyers one way or another. It’s impossible to know which way, so don’t risk it. Keep it as clean and as tidy as you possibly can. That will almost certainly mean putting away things you treasure. Don’t worry, you are taking them with you.
By the way, if you are selling, or about to sell, and you are uncertain about how your home looks, ask a local GSPC member for some impartial, expert advice. Just be prepared for some honest advice – it’s not an insult or a criticism. It’s just designed to help you sell your home as well as possible.