Column: Simon Gerrard explains how to make a home appealing to prospective buyers

National Association of Estate Agents president Simon Gerrard

National Association of Estate Agents president Simon Gerrard - Credit: Archant

The National Association of Estate Agents president, Simon Gerrard uses his expert advice to answer questions about buying and selling property

What can I do with my home to make it more appealing to prospective buyers without spending lots of money?

SG Before putting your property on the market there are a couple of easy steps that you can take to help maximise the appeal to potential buyers.

It is important when preparing your home for sale, to remember that while the property is presently your home, to help achieve the best price the property should be presented in a way for someone else to see how they could make it their home.

While it is obvious that the property should be clean and tidy, most sellers overlook the importance of de-cluttering. By placing in storage things you don’t need (as a rule of tumb, if you haven’t used it for six months, you don’t need it) you can give that potential purchaser the opportunity to see how they could best utilise the space.

Regardless of the season, the view of your property that a buyer will first get can set the mood for the whole viewing, so make sure that the front garden is clean and tidy and that any essential maintenance is carried out to the exterior of the property prior to putting it up for sale.

Q Will converting a loft into a room always add value and what should I think about before embarking on such a project?

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SG Done right, converting a loft room can be quite a costly affair and will cause some upheaval, but all in all it can provide you the opportunity to add value to your home.

It is important to remember that a loft room cannot be described as a bedroom unless it has been converted in accordance with and having received planning approval from your local council. With most houses this can be confirmed with permitted development consent. For flats a full planning application will be necessary. Any conversion must also be completed in accordance with building control regulations and certification.

If you convert a loft room without these, and describe the area as a room, you can fall foul of consumer protection regulations, under which you may be liable for prosecution.

If you live in a flat it is important to check your lease to see if the loft space is demised (owned) by you. Regardless, you may also need to receive the freeholder’s consent for the alteration otherwise you may be in breach of your lease. All this should be considered before you instruct architects to do full drawings, although it may be worth discussing the feasibility with a professional first.

It is also imperative that the loft you are considering converting will provide good additional useable space. It must provide minimum headroom of 1.2m. You should also consider the space you will have to use for the stairs to access the new loft room.

Q I’m about to start viewing properties to buy. What are some of the first things I should consider?

SG Most importantly be sure your finances are in place; if you see your dream home this could be the difference between you buying it or someone else. Speak to a mortgage expert and find out exactly how much you can afford, this will reinforce your credibility as a buyer.

Make a list of what you need in your new home. Write down your ‘must haves’ and ‘wish fors’ and be realistic. It is hard to find the perfect home so keep an open mind and be prepared to make compromises.

Always try and see the property in daylight. As the nights are drawing in this becomes a little more difficult but if you see a property in the evening and you like it try and arrange a second viewing the following day or at the weekend. This will also help you get a feel for the area at different times of the day.

Be honest with the agent – if the property isn’t for you, tell them why, tell them what you did like and what you didn’t. This will help a good agent narrow down the search and help you find your perfect home.

Email your property questions to Simon Gerrard is managing director of north London estate agents, Martyn Gerrard.