What should I be doing to increase the saleability of my property during the winter?
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Our property expert Simon Gerrard suggests how to make potential buyers feel at home with a bright, cheery welcome when they view at this dreary time of year
Whatever the time of year, to achieve the best price for your home, the first rule is to make sure it stands out and is appealing – more so during the dark winter months. By incorporating a few simple tips, sellers can enhance their property’s look and feel and increase their chance of attracting an offer.
Outside is obviously where the biggest impact of any bad weather will be, and also is the first sight of your home a prospective buyer will have. Inspect the roof and ridge tiles to see if any are missing or have slipped. Winter can make front gardens and paths look dull and uninviting, ensuring these are clean and clear of leaves and dirt can often improve the attractiveness of the property.
Go with the flow
Check the gutters and drain covers are properly cleared of dead leaves and other debris and that all the joints are sealed, as water overflowing or leaking from a joint when it rains is unsightly and can cause damage, leading to damp patches inside.
In the garden
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A messy garden can signal the need for too much work and thus detract buyers from making an offer. 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 advisable to cut back overhanging branches and remove any deadwood.
Bright and beautiful
Ensure your home is well lit. In the winter this will mean 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 your home. Making sure the doorway, entrance stairs or porch are well lit and clear of clutter. Proper security rates high on a homebuyer’s check list.
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 feel at home or stay long. You will probably 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.
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 the worst happens and you are flooded, you can then 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, as this can cause even more damage. Instead use a gentle heat such as a hot water bottle or hair-dryer.
Flying off for the winter
If you are going away for any period over the winter, or you have a rental property that may be empty for a period of time, 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. It is also advisable to have someone keep an eye on your property. Have the contact numbers for your neighbours in case of emergencies, especially if you live in a flat. You might also consider being neighbourly and keeping an eye on elderly neighbours to ensure they are coping with any protracted spells of bad/cold weather.
Simon Gerrard is the managing director of north London estate agents, Martyn Gerrard and a former president of the National Association of Estate Agents. Email your questions to email@example.com or tweet @hamhighproperty