Buying, Selling, and Decorating Your Dream Home

Presenting Your Property for Sale, Complete GUIDE


Just as you the seller are looking to get your highest and best price for your house, the buyer is also looking to get the best possible deal. Your job is to make the buyer think that your house is just that deal.

With the high prices of homes today, buyers have become more and more particular. They want to get the most they can to their money – the most space, function, and potential. Also, today’s buyers are usually extremely busy people and prefer to use what little leisure time they have for recreation.

Most of them are looking to pay as much as they can afford for a home that they can move straight into, without having to spend a lot of time or money on alterations.

When decorating your house for resale, it’s important to make it appeal to as many potential buyers as possible – so be conservative and choose neutral shades – now’s not the time to introduce that bright orange, blood red or lime green colour scheme you might have always dreamed of!

As a seller, you need to present your home so that it meets the needs of the greatest buying audience to realize your best sale price. One of the main things that buyers look for is a sense of space and light.

Reducing your clutter and furniture will create more space, and try to keep the decor and soft furnishings light and neutral.

Pay special attention to the kitchen and bathroom. As these are two rooms that can be the most costly to redo, buyers tend to scrutinize them. Few buyers have the money left over after purchasing their new home for any major renovations, so they need to feel that the kitchen and bathroom are in good, usable condition.

Sometimes it takes as little as a lick of paint on walls or cabinets, new flooring or tiling, and some updated lighting to make a kitchen or bathroom look and feel good.

Other, more simple things, may help entice prospective buyers, such as fresh flowers, scented candles, the smell of baking bread or freshly brewed coffee. It may sound corny, but these things can help create a cozy atmosphere and make your home feel warm and inviting.

Making Improvements to Your Home

There are some areas in your home that you might need to take a good look at before putting your house on the market. Many buyers are put off by a property that they feel would need a lot of time and money spent on it after they move in.

Presenting Your Property for Sale

The major areas to review are:

Walls & Ceilings

  • Paint in neutral colours such as white, cream or magnolia
  • Remove or disguise Artex ceilings or special paint effects
  • Avoid putting up expensive wallpaper, it makes a very personal design statement, and won’t add value


  • Carpets should be in neutral colours and good condition
  • Replace any worn carpets
  • Replace any carpets in offensive colours or patterns
  • Consider replacing carpets with seagrass matting as a good inexpensive floor covering
  • Polished wooden floors are a good selling point
  • Ceramic tiles, marble, and stone are excellent for kitchens and bathrooms


  • Touch up or repaint shabby woodwork and replace cheap and nasty door handles


  • Repaint wooden frames if needed
  • Make sure windows are sparkling clean and not blocked by

Furniture or clutter

Consider removing curtains and fitting plain blinds to maximise the light, although conversely, good curtains can highlight a beautiful window


  • Subtle lighting can be used to highlight the finest points of a room and hide flaws
  • Installing a high-tech lighting system in an up-market property usually adds value and may secure a sale

Ways to Prepare Your House For Selling

Here are few tips to prepare your house for selling;

  1. Carry out a really thorough spring clean from top to bottom. Make certain you clean all the windows inside and out, and ensure that the kitchen and bathrooms are gleaming.
  2. Fix things such as dripping taps and make sure that everything works properly.
  3. Finish any incomplete DIY jobs.
  4. Carry out non-essential repairs that may put off a potential buyer, such as replacing broken tiles, and filling and painting over cosmetic cracks in walls.
  5. Replace any badly worn carpets.
  6. Tidy up the decor – touch up chipped woodwork and fix or replace loose wallpaper.
  7. Redecorate where necessary such as painting the front door and toning down any loud colours.
  8. Cover or replace unattractive furniture.
  9. De-clutter either discard or pack away anything that doesn’t enhance the appearance of a room or the garden.
  10. De-personalise – reduce your items to the minimum. This includes removing photographs, posters, and knickknack collections.
  11. Eradicate any animal smells and pet hair, and make sure that any litter trays are hidden well away when prospective buyers come to view.
  12. Maximise light by checking that all the light bulbs are working.
  13. Fit some ready made radiator covers, and smarten up those unsightly radiators.
  14. Make sure your garden looks as smart as the house – mowing the lawn, trim the borders and hedges, and fix or paint anything that is broken or worn.

Kerb Appeal

First impressions are critical, and property must have what is known as ‘kerb appeal’ – many potential buyers drive by to see whether a house appeals to them and if it doesn’t they’ll just keep on driving!

Your house should be appealing and welcoming, one of the nicest on the street, yet in keeping with the style of the neighbourhood.

According to statistics, painting your front door blue will increase the likelihood of selling your home.

Spending lots of money improving the interior is wasted if the exterior puts most people off before they even get inside the door.

Fresh paintwork, a well-kept garden, and the overall first impression of a cared-for home are important factors in getting buyers inside.

Additional tips:

  • Paint the front door and polish the letterbox and knocker
  • Make sure your front garden and driveway is neat, tidy and well kept
  • Put a tub of blooming flowers on your doorstep to add immediate appeal

First Impressions

Buyers probably decide whether or not to buy within the first 60 to 90 seconds of entering a house. The buyer may not even be aware of this decision because it has been made subconsciously.

Although most buyers have a list of requirements for their purchase, the decision whether or not to buy a particular house is usually based on intangibles.

The place has to feel right. And if it doesn’t, they are out of the door as fast as they came in.

What can you do as a seller to make a house feel right? Pay close attention to those subliminal messages, a technique that is often using advertising. Potential buyers will experience your house with the five senses – sight, sound, touch, and smell.

Ask a good friend to inspect before buyers come.

A property viewing lasts for an average of 20 minutes – however, prospective buyers tend to make their minds up in the first few minutes – so first impressions are vital.

Inside the house, good lighting is essential, both natural and ambient, to create a cheerful atmosphere, and colour should be soft, neutral, and easy on the eye.

Cleanliness and order throughout evoke a looked after feeling in the home. Clean windows, curtains, and surfaces, especially in the kitchen, are reassuring.

Soft background music puts the buyer at ease. Subtle fresh scents as well as plants and flowers add life and vitality to a room. A fire in the fireplace on a chilly day creates the feeling of homeliness, as does the old trick of something yummy baking in the oven.

If you have a garden, remove weeds and trim plants and lawn. Sweep paths. Pets, children, and sellers themselves should remain unobtrusive to let the prospective buyers view the home in a relaxed and comfortable manner.

Maximising Space and Light

Buyers have to be able to imagine living in the house that they are viewing, with their possessions and furniture.

It is your job to make it as easy as possible for them to visualize this, by making your property look as spacious and light as possible.

Never, ever, present one of your bedrooms, no matter how small, as a junk room. You will be doing yourself out of money.

Maximising Space

Edit your belongings ruthlessly and arrange furniture to allow freedom of movement. Now, more than ever, less is more (money in your pocket, that is). If a buyer cannot see room for clutter, there is no chance of them mentally moving in.

Clear out all shelves and cupboards, and put everything back in a neat, organized manner. Buyers need to feel that there is adequate room for their belongings – not get the impression that even you are struggling for space.

Take advantage of unused storage areas in the house, in lofts, basements, garages, under the stairs, and so on, and present them neatly as an asset, not an eyesore.

Mirrors are a good way to make a room look bigger and much brighter. A large mirror over a fireplace is essential, and mirrors can also be skilfully used in small kitchens and bathrooms. If the living room doesn’t have a fireplace, try to create a focal point with an attractive piece of furniture.

Painting walls and ceilings a pale neutral shade will also enhance the feeling of space and light. Using the same shade and texture when decorating unifies the space and makes it seem larger and allows rooms to flow into one another.

Maximising Light

Try to make sure that your hallway is light and bright for immediate impact when your viewers arrive. Clean the windows thoroughly, and draw the curtains well back.

Install spotlights or up lighters to illuminate dark corners and switch on lights in dark areas. Painting walls and ceilings a pale neutral shade and fitting a light coloured carpet will also enhance the light and space.

Ideas for Kitchens

Potential buyers see the kitchen as the most important room in the house when viewing a property, and it can secure or lose you a sale on its own.

Ideas for Kitchens before selling house

A kitchen should match the style of the house – modern with chrome and stainless steel for a loft-style apartment, or wood and an Aga for a traditional country home, although, there are also many neutral kitchen designs that look equally well in either.

However, it isn’t usually worthwhile forking out for a new kitchen to sell your house, unless it’s appalling and completely beyond redemption.

A lot can be done to smarten up a tired kitchen, including:

  • First and foremost – make sure it’s clean from top to bottom
  • Clear your countertops – pack away that breadmaker, sandwich toaster, and other non-essential items to create a spacious looking kitchen with acres of workspace
  • Pack away as much as you can. Buyers want to know there will be enough room for their things, and if they see your cupboards are crammed full of “stuff,” they will not get the feeling of plentiful storage space

The essential rule when preparing your kitchen for sale? It must be uncluttered and spotless!

Then looking at the decor and fittings:

  • Paint the walls white or a pale shade that compliments the units
  • Replace curtains with blinds
  • Ensure the kitchen is brightly lit. If you have a kitchen/dining room, install dimmer lights to provide both bright lights for cooking and softer lighting for dining
  • Replace chipped or cracked tiles
  • Cover a dark or old-fashioned tiled splash back with white tiles or try painting it white
  • Replace dark vinyl flooring or linoleum with light coloured vinyl or wood laminate
  • Stain or paint the kitchen units
  • Replace doors, drawer fronts and handles
  • Replace some cupboards with open racks and shelves, which will also give an impression of more space
  • Fit new marble-effect or granite work surfaces
  • Replace the hob or oven if it’s beyond cleaning
  • Install good quality, second-hand appliances – an Aga or Rayburn is a huge selling point in a country home.

Creating Beautiful Bathrooms

After the kitchen, the bathroom is the second most important room in the house, and it must be spotlessly clean.

Tips to Smarten Up Your Bathroom

  • Reduce the number of toiletries on display to a minimum – put away your everyday stuff, and invest in some luxurious looking items to put out on show
  • Remove clutter, reading material and bath toys
  • Install a large mirror, which will make a small bathroom appear larger
  • Change any tired looking bathroom fittings – installing modern taps can dramatically improve the look of a bathroom suite
  • Fit a new toilet seat and make sure the loo looks and smells hygienic
  • Replace an ineffective shower head with a power shower attachment
  • Repair chips in the bath or basin with enamel paint
  • Install a new or second-hand bathroom suite if the one you have is past redemption
  • Fit new flooring – cork or vinyl tiles are inexpensive
  • Paint the walls white or a pastel shade
  • Replace garish tiles or paint them white and re-grout and reseal where necessary
  • Install cupboards or additional storage
  • Fit new curtains or blinds
  • Install new lighting if it looks dated, or if it makes the room dark and dingy
  • Buy a new shower curtain, cotton mats, and fluffy towels – all in toning neutral shades

You may need to replace an offensively coloured suite (brown, blue, or the dreaded avocado) with a white one. You can do this relatively cheaply if you avoid expensive showrooms and buy direct or from a small plumber’s merchant.


On average, it takes 10 to 15 viewings before a property is sold, (although this may vary depending on the state of the local property market), with the favourite viewing day being Saturday.

Viewings a house before selling

When selling to a couple, it’s usually the woman who decides what to buy, so concentrate your selling efforts on the female partner!

Make sure you’re as friendly and open as you can people are much more likely to make an offer if they like you and think you will be a good person to do business with.

Do bear in mind that not everybody will love your pets as much as you do – in fact, they will put off a certain proportion of potential buyers.

So keep any animals out of the way when showing your house, and eliminate any evidence of pet hair or odors that they might leave behind.

Ten Things You Should Do Before a Viewing

  1. Do a quick clean up, vacuum or sweep floors
  2. Fluff up cushions and pillows
  3. Make up the beds, empty waste bins and put down toilet seats
  4. Tidy away clutter (newspapers, post, toys, etc.)
  5. Make sure that the kitchen and bathrooms are spotless
  6. Make sure that the house smells fresh and pleasant
  7. Put fresh flowers in the living room and a bowl of fruit in the dining room or kitchen
  8. Turn on lamps to brighten rooms and enhance dark corners
  9. Light a fire if it’s winter or anytime when it’s cold, or make sure the central heating is on
  10. Brighten rooms by drawing back curtains

If you let viewers inspect the house without close supervision, make sure you don’t leave valuables or jewelry lying around.


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