How should I prepare my property to sell it this Autumn?

Q: I’m preparing to put my flat on the market for autumn, how do I maximise its potential?

A: I did a radio interview the other day answering exactly this; firstly, get your paperwork in order. In other words, make sure your service charge payments are up to date, and, if you’ve done any work to the property, make sure that permissions are all in place and so on. You don’t want to agree a sale for it fall through due to paperwork issues. Not only does this aggrieve a buyer, but your flat will sit on the property websites, listed as ‘under offer’ for longer, which makes other buyers think there are issues with the flat and becomes a problem if your first buyer pulls out and you need to re-market.

Then you need to look at your flat in terms of how it’s presented. De-cluttering sounds like a cliché but it really is important. In order to achieve the highest possible price, you need to present the space as best you can. So, if you love collecting knick-knacks, or have golf clubs and bikes stuffed in the hallway and cupboards, this may well put people off. First impressions count and you want buyers to be able to float in and have the feeling of space, rather than them squeezing through the hallway past bulky objects. However, this doesn’t mean hiding things in the loft or cupboards, as buyers will want to see inside those spaces too.

You also want to try to remove your personality to a certain extent and make the flat fairly neutral. I know this isn’t ideal as the property is still your home until it’s sold, but you want a buyer to be able to imagine their own belongings in the space, rather than being distracted by your own interior style.

Next you need to ensure that your flat is being used in the way that another buyer might want to use it. For example, if you have a third bedroom which you use as a study, but most buyers would use as a bedroom, make sure they can see that the room is a good third bedroom. It might be a good (and lucrative) idea to put a bed in there temporarily to show potential buyers how the space can be used, even if this means moving your desk out or pushing it to one side. It’s really important to remember that a lot of buyers struggle to visualise space and its potential, so you need to make it really easy for them. Also, remember that empty space can look smaller than if furniture is in situ, so an empty room or hallway might give the feeling of less space than if it is furnished.

If you have a question you’d like Jo to answer please email or tweet her @joeccles.