Ask the Expert

Ask the Expert

 From time to time, we send you specially-written Q&A articles on a wide range of property-related topics, which you can download from the Marketing Resource in Word format and use in a wide variety of applications.

The first article is...

Q. When selling your home, is ambience really as important as some people think?
To be honest, until relatively recently, the word barely featured in the vocabulary of British estate agents at all! It was really only when people started importing some of the more exotic practices favoured by our American cousins that ambience - along with things like de-cluttering and “house-dressing” came to be regarded as a lucrative sideline for a whole new breed of specialist consultants. Suddenly, we were all being urged to cram every nook and cranny of our homes with vases of fresh flowers, or place a dish of vanilla essence in a warm oven to fake the smell of fresh-baked cakes!

Of course, most of us are sensitive to what you might call the feel of a property, but just like decluttering, improving the ambience of your home is probably around 99% common sense. After all, it is generally the simplest and most obvious things that have the most impact. For example, studies show that people react more positively to properties that are brightly lit. So, during the day, the best advice is to keep curtains wide open and windows clean, while at night, all lights should be switched on, with any blown bulbs or flickering fluorescent tubes being replaced.

Similarly, the question of sound. Personally, I always consider that the best and most restful way in which to view a property is in complete peace and quiet. You should certainly try to avoid any loud, jarring noise – and ensure that the TV is turned off for the duration of the viewing. It can also be worth mentioning to your neighbours that you’ve got someone coming round to view your home – particularly if you know they are planning a bit of DIY. Even if it’s coming from next door, the sound of a hammer drill can be a trifle off-putting!

Lastly, smell. Again, there is nothing to beat the essentially neutral aroma of a good, clean home – particularly important in kitchens and bathrooms, of course, but equally so if you have pets. Simply masking unpleasant odors with chemical air fresheners is no substitute for a serious spring-clean!


The second article is...

Q. When would be the best time to let prospective buyers look round my home?

A. This is the sort of question that estate agents are always being asked – another example being, “When is the best time of year to put my home on the market?” This is entirely understandable, given the fact that people’s homes are almost certainly their single most valuable asset, so they are naturally keen to maximise their chances of achieving a successful sale at the best possible price. Nevertheless, generally speaking there is no such thing as the “best” time to do these things – any more than one can say, for example, that if you paint your walls powder blue instead of white, you will get higher offers!

The fact is, there are very few hard and fast rules where the property market is concerned. That said, however, in an ideal world you would probably want viewings to take place on a bright, sunny day, so that the inside of your home appears as light and airy as possible. Sunlight, of course, also has the added advantage of putting everyone in a good, positive mood! Of course, in this country we can’t actually guarantee the kind of weather we’re going to get from one moment to the next. Nevertheless, you can to a certain extent compensate for a dull, overcast day by switching on all the lights.

Other than the weather, there’s really not much more to say. It was very different back in the days when the workings of the property market were largely governed by the time-honoured principle of “Caveat Emptor,” or Buyer Beware. Back then, if your home was close to a school, your agent might quite legitimately suggest that you avoid holding viewings at break times, which might be rather noisy, or at “going home time,” when streets might be jammed with badly-parked 4x4s. Ultimately, it was up to the buyer to draw their own conclusions about the likely effect of living next door to a school. It wasn’t for you to volunteer information about the noise – unless you were asked a direct question.

Not any more. The extension of the snappily-titled Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations to the property market back in 2013 spelled the end of Caveat Emptor. Now, both you and your estate agent are legally obliged to reveal anything and everything about a property that might affect someone’s decision to buy it – in other words, all the bad news as well as the good. So, using the previous example, you would now have to tell buyers about the noise from the school, even if they didn’t ask. So, with that in mind, you might just as well have them looking round your home at school break time, after all!

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