Column: Simon Gerrard on selling and protecting your property in winter

Simon Gerrard

Simon Gerrard - Credit: Archant

Simon Gerrard, the president of the National Association of Estate Agents shows how you can improve the saleability of your home and protect it over the winter months

Whatever the time of year, for the best chance to sell your home it is important to make sure your property stands out! This is even more the case during the cold, dark winter months. By incorporating a few simple tips, sellers can enhance their property’s look and feel, increasing the chance of attracting an offer and protect their home into the bargain.

First impressions

Outside is obviously where the biggest impact of the bad weather will be and this is obviously the first sight of your home a prospective buyer will have. Winter can make front garden and paths look dull and uninviting, so ensuring these are clean and clear of leaves will improve the attractiveness of the property. Inspect the roof and ridge tiles to see if any are missing or have slipped, whilst this may not be noticed by potential purchasers at first inspection, it could lead to unsightly leak marks internally and will inevitably be picked up by a surveyor.

Go with the flow

Check the gutters and drain covers are properly cleared of dead leaves and other debris as leaky gutters and down pipes cause damage and are unsightly.

In the garden

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A messy garden can signal the need for too much work and effort and thus detract buyers. If possible put patio furniture away inside, if not ensure they are securely covered. Clear leaves from the patio and paths. Fix or secure any loose fence panels or gates. It is also advisable to cut back overhanging branches and remove any deadwood, this will help brighten the property, plus high winds and ice can break weak trees and branches which could cause major damage.

Bright and beautiful

Ensure your home is well lit. This means making sure all of your lights work including the security lights. If a viewing takes place during the day, open all of the curtains and blinds to ensure as much natural light as possible enters the home. Making sure the doorway, entrance, stairs or porch are well lit and clear of clutter can help create an inviting home. Proper security rates high on a homebuyers check list. Lighting your property from the outside with security lights will make burglars think twice and makes it look more attractive to buyers.

Warm and friendly

It’s important to make your house feel warm and homely. If a buyer enters a property that is cold they’re unlikely to stay long. Smell is also important. You are going to get a bad reaction from buyers if there is an odd aroma or damp smell hanging around. So freshen up, let some fresh air circulate and the old cliché of fresh bread or roasting coffee really does work.

You will probably have already have had the boiler serviced and checked that the pipework and tanks are properly lagged. But consider having frost thermostats fitted so the heating system automatically kicks in if the temperature suddenly drops. It is recommended the heating should be set to keep your property at an ambient temperature of at least 15°c. With buyers now concerned more than ever on the running costs of a home; sellers should seek to highlight any energy saving features.

Flying off for the winter

If you are going away for any period over the winter the heating should be left on at a low temperature (minimum of 15°c). If you are away for a long period and don’t want to keep the heating on 24/7 make sure it is on a timer. Longer spells at a lower temperature can be more economical than shorter blasts at higher temperatures. Have someone keep an eye on your property. It is a good idea to have the contact numbers for your neighbours in case of emergencies, especially if you live in a flat. You should also keep an eye on elderly neighbours to ensure they are coping with any spells of bad weather.

Flood warning

Make sure you know where your internal stopcock is and that it works properly – it should turn clockwise to turn off the water supply. If you are flooded, turn off the water and the electricity immediately before you call your emergency number. If you find a frozen pipe don’t ever try to defrost it with a direct flame like a blow torch as this can cause even more damage. Instead use a gentle heat such as a hot water bottle or hair-dryer.

If you have a question for Simon Gerrard, email ham& Mr Gerrard is managing director of north London estate agents, Martyn Gerrard.