If you’re looking for a way to sell your home in a short amount of time, creating a good first impression with regard to how you present your home is critical.
The interior design of your home tends to have the purpose of reflecting your personality and individual style in order to make you feel at home within your own space. But when it comes to the interior design of a house you are trying to sell, the rules change and there’s nothing more valuable to forming a good first impression to support the potential buyers vision of what they would like to do with the property for themselves.
The reason it’s so important is that it’s fundamental to the prospective buyer’s gut instinct. This gut instinct is ultimately an intuitive feeling that can’t always be explained rationally, as it isn’t picked up by the conscious mind, it is formed in the subconscious within a few seconds. Whilst seemingly unimportant, it influences every subsequent interaction and guides the decision making of anybody wanting to make a purchase.
It’s similar to how when you meet someone new, you simply can’t help but generate a first impression that then sets the scene, or at least perception, for the rest of your interactions. It’s no secret that in life that first impressions are critical, yet so many people forget the impact of this experience when selling their house. You may be wary of buying on an emotional whim, but you do want to sell an emotional response!
To the lament of realtors, many property owners overlook the basics such as de-cluttering their space, keeping decor as neutral as possible, or even keeping on top of necessary maintenance tasks such as painting fences or getting a professional glass company in to reglaze a broken window.We want you to get it right the first time, to get your place sold on time.
Here's five practical tips to help you create the right first impression when selling your home.
You want people to see your space in its best light, and that means as clean and clutter free as possible. Nobody wants to buy a house that feels like an episode of Hoarders! People want to walk into a space that feels like a blank canvas, which is why so many property developers include minimal or no furniture, curtains ore decor in their properties and ensure the walls are all painted in a shade of white. You don't have to move out and walk around with gloves on, but it is a great time to pack away the very personalised stuff and have a massive clean-out.
2. TAKE CARE OF THE BASICS OUTSIDE
If someone were to arrive at your property and see an overgrown lawn, they will likely cast judgement and doubt on how well the property is maintained. Hello bad first impression. Mow the lawn, hide the bins, trim the hedges, weed the garden, wash the windows, and I'd even go so far as to park your car in the garage or away from the house entirely during viewings. Same goes with pets!
Your favourite colour combination might be beautiful to you, but interior design can mean something completely different when looking to sell your house. It's no longer about your tastes and style, it’s about the vision of the prospective buyer, and if that vision is distracted due to your own style, it can be hard for them to visualise the space becoming their own.
Take that blank canvas transformation to all areas of the house where you can (*and where appropriate) - paint colourful walls in the main living areas a soft white, perhaps remove those sexy glam shots of you in the 80's from the walls, and generally pair things back in the colour, texture, and maximalist sense, opting to create as neutral and minimal look as you can.
Look at kids rooms and remove items that may hinder the buyers ability to see it as an office or guest bedroom, for example. If your children have grown up, it's an even better reason to give the room the neutral treatment. Same goes for very manly or very girly dens, over-crowded craft rooms, man-cave garages or basements, and any other heavily decorated to niche tastes spaces.
* Of course, the exception to this is if they house is well known for it's style, heritage, or architecture, and the interior design fits perfectly with that period of design. In situations like this, it's not uncommon for some or all of the furniture to be sold with the home in order to preserve it's uniqueness and value.
4. KEEP IT CLEAN
It can be difficult when living in your home with regular open homes or viewings for potential buyers to keep it spotlessly clean, but this is pretty imperative to making that good first impression - as you may have gathered by now! Your job is to make your home as appealing as possible to get the best possible price for your investment. So consider keeping it clean a temporary inconvenience if you must, but maybe you might just love it that way and thank the process for this great new habit you developed! #silverlinings right?!
If someone comes into the bathroom, for example, you want them to buy into the feeling state of if they buy your house it will always be kept that clean - even if they’re really untidy people - so take care of the little everyday things such as the toothpaste splatters on the mirror and sink, and a clean loo. If the bathroom (or kitchen for that matter) is especially old and un-renovated, it's even more of a reason to get it as sparkling (and sparse) as possible. Let the buyer see the layout and the potential for an easy renovation rather than a big, dirty, difficult job ahead.
5. CREATE EMOTIVE MOMENTS
And finally, give the potential buyers some emotive moments to anchor to their positive experience and memory of your home - that helps them feel this is the home for them. Think rich vanilla fragrances, warm baked goods, soft soothing music, fresh flowers throughout, and styled vignettes that hint at a room's ideal use.
Often, it's the little touches that make all the difference, but they are best done with the principle of minimalism in mind. And they also need to be considered a 'finishing touch,' rather than as a panacea for a messy house… there’s no point in investing in a bunch of beautiful fragrant flowers if there is too much of a mess around for the buyer to notice.
On the topic of smell, a lot of people forget how important the olfactory sense is (meaning smell and taste), but when viewing a property, people use all five senses - including their nose to assess the homes value to them. For this reason especially, if you have pets, you want to make sure your homes smell doesn't acknowledge that as the prospective buyers might not appreciate animals indoors and certainly would be put off by animal hair or the smell of wet dog. Burning an aromatherapy candle or similar can be a great way to attend to this sense - but don’t overdo it, especially with the synthetic air freshener plugins, as this can give off the impression that you’re trying to mask a *bad smell.
*If you're considering masking a bad smell like mould - please don't. I lived in a mouldy house for a little more than a year and 10 years later am still dealing with health problems from it as I unaware of just how bad it was. If it's not already visible, a building or inspection report will likely bring it up and an offer could be retracted with the potential buyer feeling lied to and left wondering what else you could be hiding. It's best to be honest with your agent or buyer so they can make confident and educated decisions. Renovation does not necessarily mean scary to some, but they do want to know what they're dealing with. PS. I'm not the law, so seek professional advice and be a good human 😉
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