Creating a lasting impression

When it comes to putting your home on the market, it’s worth going the extra distance to show it in the best possible light.

You’ve no doubt had this point reiterated to you time and time again by various TV property luminaries. But actually putting this advice into practice is easier said than done.

Maybe you have little time, or just no inclination to sort out all your ‘stuff’ before your move. Perhaps you moved everything with you and now don’t know where to put it? Luckily, help is at hand. Present Your Property is the brainchild of Christine Cardwell, an experienced designer with a keen eye for interiors and styling. Her company offers an array of services ranging from the simple styling of rooms, with or without photography, through to de-cluttering and space management.

“I guess I have always been a bit of a homemaker,” she says “but by no means in the earthmother sense. I love the challenge of creating a comfortable and homely atmosphere for clients, but as always, the emphasis is on style and putting a room together, using whatever is to hand.”

In the current competitive property market, first impressions count. Before your brochure, schedule or ad is put together, a bit of simple styling can enable potential buyers or tenants to mentally move into your home or, at the very least, be impressed enough to want to view it. Along with styling, creative and considered photography is very important in the presentation of property. Good lighting and carefully selected angles will help to make the very best of each room.

Here are Christine’s top tips for making the most of your home before your viewings:

Start with the area first seen by potential buyers – your front garden, path and door. Try to keep things tidy. In the depths of winter and early spring, everything looks dull and dreary, but you can improve things just by deadheading, cutting down old foliage and tidying up leaves. You could even mention how the garden looked in the summer, as it is hard to imagine it when it is cold and dark. A pot with a winter planting by the door will lift the whole area. There are lots of winter plants that add interest and texture, and even give some welcome colour.

In the spring and summer, it goes without saying that tubs and baskets of colour as well as window boxes, where appropriate, will really enhance your entrance, so pay attention to the areas in close proximity to your front and back doors.

Does your door stand out? Give your house kerb appeal by making the entrance look clean and inviting. A lick of paint on your front door may be all your entrance needs to create a warm, lasting impression. Given the popularity of Google’s Street View it is also worthwhile considering a longer term approach to keeping the entrance of your home looking neat, now that the whole world might have a chance to see it!

If it’s winter, and cold and dark, make sure you get your heating on before a viewing and put on some background lighting. This will be instantly comforting and make the place feel homely.

Inside the house, try to de-clutter as much as possible, placing special emphasis on piles of paper or junk. Look on top of your cupboards and wardrobes, and hide away any boxes or suitcases. That goes for piles of laundry too. Try and make every room look as spacious as possible, even your storage areas.

Pets and children are usually a fixture in lots of homes, but it’s best not to confront your viewers with all the stuff that goes with them. If possible, put pets outside, or at least remove their feeding bowls. Stash away most of the children’s toys and clutter, and even see if they can spend some time at friends or neighbours. This will allow you to talk freely to your viewers about what might be important to them about the neighbourhood. You can give them information about schools, entertainment, clubs, classes and transport links. You could also tell them what attracted you to the property when you bought it.

As you move through the house, make sure that your beds are made, and clothes tidied away, likewise the toiletries that may be littering the bathroom. Plump up cushions, and make sure your carpets are vacuumed. Sparkling clean windows are another element that is sure to be noticed. You also might want to consider using home fragrances or scented candles, but don’t go for anything too overpowering.

About half an hour before a viewing, it’s a good time to open your windows for a bit and make sure the house smells sweet. Fresh flowers will always set off a room, as well as adding colour and scent.

Before you advertise your property, it’s a good idea to tackle all the odd jobs you have been meaning to do – things that are liable to be noticed, like a loose tile, or fused light bulb, damaged electrical fittings or even blocked gutters.

These are all simple steps towards presenting your property in a more effective way to create maximum impact, and increase the likelihood of a sale or better price. Today’s market is very tough, but a little bit of home staging and some great photographs may be all that is needed to give properties that have been on the market for a while the extra push they need to get buyers interested.