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?
A. 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