As summer gently fades, the focus for many will transition from holidays to home sales, says DAVID DEVLIN, Director of Belvoir in Devizes. Whether relocating for work or simply taking advantage of the still low mortgage interest rates to realize the goal of a bigger, newer or otherwise more appealing home, many will be preparing to sell their homes during the autumn property season.

Yet some will focus all of their attention on searching for a new dream home and overlook the need to ensure that the home they’re selling will appeal as someone else’s dream home. This doesn’t necessarily need to involve big expensive projects such as kitchen and bathroom upgrades. While those can indeed add real value and saleability if carefully chosen, so too can much smaller, and more affordable efforts.

Too many people rush to market their home without first stepping back to assess what buyers will see and fail to consider how first impressions can be ruined by something as simple as tired paintwork or clutter. Take the time to assess your own home through a different lens. Better yet, ask a trusted friend or a property professional to give you an honest, independent appraisal. Over time we tend to become blind to how our own homes appear to others and what a big difference something as simple as fresh window dressings or professional carpet cleaning might make in how others first see our home.

Some simple but effective opportunities to enhance first impressions and thus the saleability of our homes often include:

1. Refreshing the appearance of the property from the street. Is a bit of extra weeding needed or trimming of bushes and shrubs? Perhaps fresh paint to exterior trim. Are the gutters and fascias gleaming or grimy? If your home does not appeal from the outside then potential buyers may never venture inside to see what if offers within.

2. Once the front door does open, will buyers be greeted by a clean, open and tidy environment or is your home so full of your family’s possessions and knickknacks that it may be hard for them to envision their own family living there? We love our family photos and those endless decorations each mean something special to us but to a buyer they simply mask the ability to see a blank canvass that they can personalise as their own. Seriously declutter and yes, ‘depersonalise’ your home, so that a potential buyer can envision it as their own. Most people do not buy a ‘house’ so much as they do the life that they can envision themselves and their family living within a new ‘home’. Remove any barriers to their being able to envision this.

3. The same goes for furniture. Over time we tend to accumulate more and more furniture. It all serves a purpose to us but too much furniture will hamper that ‘blank canvass vision’ and also make the space seem smaller than it actually is. Consider thinning the amount of furniture, room by room. If your furniture is tired and poorly matched, it will make your home feel the same way. If you are considering new furniture for your new home, might it make sense to acquire some of that ahead of time and replace the old items now, to give your current home a new and fresh appeal that will set it apart from others in the eyes of potential buyers?

4. How do the walls and carpets look? Are they fresh or faded? Could a coat of paint breathe new life into your home? Would professionally cleaned carpets replace a dull sense of grubbiness with one of fresh welcome? The cost of each may be less than you think and could add meaningfully to the perceived value of your home.

5. Last but certainly not least, make sure all is tidy and clean. It never ceases to amaze me as I view properties with potential buyers, that some people will leave dirty dishes in the sink, soiled laundry on bedroom floors or beds unmade, let alone grubby bathrooms or un-vacuumed carpets. We are all busy these days and housework is nobody’s favourite pastime but such a simple thing can make such a massive difference in how others see our homes and whether or not they can see themselves living in them. If you’re too busy to clean and tidy properly, consider paying a cleaning company to give your home and thorough deep clean. Making your home sparkle can quickly put a spark in a buyer’s eye and thus help you move to a new home of your own.

Consider asking your estate agent for suggestions on how to quickly and cheaply make your home more appealing to potential buyers. A little effort can make a big difference in making sure that yours is the house that stands out from the crowd, for all of the right reasons.