tips for selling your home - south wales photographer
Hi, I’m Clare. And I’m a Rightmove addict. At the last count, I have 111 properties saved in my Rightmove app. Some because I like the tiles in the bathroom, some because I like the kitchen chairs, some because of the location and some because I’d actually like to buy them. We are currently in the process of moving house for the 6th time since we’ve been married. We’ve bought and sold every house we’ve ever lived in and this time will be the last time. For at least 5 years. And then we’ll see…
The longest we’ve spent in any house is 3.5 years and the shortest stay will be in our current house - around 14 months. Our reasons for moving have varied each time, but one thing that every move has in common is that it has always been stressful. But each time we’ve moved, we’ve learnt something different about the process and these are the things I thought I’d share with you in this blog.
1. De-clutter your house. My husband is a fan of the show home look when it comes to house viewings. He thinks that bins look untidy and will put them in cupboards. To some extent I think he’s trying to sell potential buyers the dream - “buy this house and it’ll all be so good that you won’t even need a bin!”. Bless him, he’s really good at tidying for viewings, I think he maybe just takes it a tad too far. So maybe the bins get to stay in the kitchen, but de-cluttering really does help sell a house. If it’s full of stuff, how will buyers know the true size of the rooms? How will they know if their furniture fits and more importantly - how will they be able to imagine how they would use the space? If you can get potential buyers to move in mentally, you’re half way there.
2. Look at your house with fresh eyes. You know those 5 minute jobs that have needed doing for months but you’ve never got round to doing them? I’m talking about things like filling the dent in the wall that you made when you tripped and lost your grip on the frying pan. Having to flick the bathroom light on and off a couple of times to make it work is probably habit by now and you think nothing of it. Or maybe you’ve walked up and down the stairs so many times that you’ve stopped noticing the carpet that needs glueing back down on the bottom step. Now is the time to do those jobs, because you may not see them anymore, but potential buyers will. And if the vendors (sellers) haven’t bothered to sort out basic things like filling dents, I automatically start thinking about the major things that might need doing that they haven’t sorted either. If you’re looking round your house thinking “we’re sorted, there’s nothing that needs doing here“ then you’re a far more prouctive person than I am. There might really be nothing that needs sorting, but maybe you could ask a friend to come round and double check that they don’t see anything either.
3. Know your market. As soon as you think you want to move house, you should start looking online at everything you can in the area you’re selling in. Save it all to your Rightmove account (you don’t have an account?! pardon?!) and keep an eye on what’s selling and what’s not. Try and see if you can spot a common theme - the same style of house / the same type of decor / the same price point / the same size / the same type of property / the same estate agent (more about that in a minute). It can give you real insight into what’s selling in your area and why, and you can use this to help your own sale. If you have a 2 bed flat to sell but all the other properties that are selling in your area are 3 bed houses, then it will help you know that it’s nothing you’re doing wrong and that your time to sell will come.
4. Choose your estate agent wisely. So most people know that you should get more than one valuation of your house before you put it on the market. But there are sooooo many other things to consider other than the value that an estate agent puts on your house. Where do they advertise (rightmove, on the market and zoopla are the 3 big ones to look out for)? What rate of commission do they charge (and is it plus or including VAT)? What are their terms (if you want to leave them, how long are you tied in for)? How many similar properties have they sold in your area in the last 6 months? And how many of those were sold above / at / under the original asking price? You should never go for the estate agent who values you house way above the other quotes you get. If it’s on for over market value (ie what it’s actually worth) then you won’t get people in through the door and you’ll end up reducing the price anyway. Okay, so someone might decide that they’ll pay what you’re asking because they’re desperate for what your selling. But be warned - unless they’re cash buyers, they will need a mortgage valuation. And mortgage companies base their valuations on cold hard facts, so if your buyers go in too high and there are no other comparable properties in the area that have sold for similar prices, they will downvalue yours and you’ll have to renegotiate the price.
Online agents are fast becoming a thing, but in my opinion it’s better to have a real life person who knows the market in your area and who you can talk to face to face. Estate agents do so much more that showing people round your house. Yes, it’s a chunk of money out of the sale of your house, but you’re paying them to do a job that they’re qualified and experienced in doing. In the same way as I don’t mind paying my dentist because I don’t want to take my own teeth out, I don’t mind paying an estate agent so I don’t have to deal with the marketing and sale of my own home either.
5. Read and re-read the details before signing off. Once you’ve picked your estate agent (side note - we have used several agents in Cardiff but Jeffrey Ross are who we would recommend. My daughter is Sharon’s biggest fan) and they’ve come over to the house to take photos and write up the details for the brochure, please please please read and re-read those details before you approve them. As a potential buyer, it is so off-putting to read through a property’s details online and see typos in the description or see photos of toilets instead of bathrooms, or upside down kitchens. I love order and one of my top tips to get the photos listed on Rightmove so it feels like you’re having a tour of the house - front, hall, lounge, kitchen, utility, bedrooms, bathroom. It saves potential buyers from having to guess which room is which and where it is in the house. Oh and a floorplan! I personally like to know before I view a house in person which walls I could knock down ;)
6. Get a mortgage advisor. Before you even start looking at houses to buy, get yourself an independent mortgage advisor (not one who works solely for one bank / estate agent). You don’t always have to pay out - if you shop around, you’ll find that lots of them make their money from the banks you borrow from. But any decent advisor will be able to get you access to better rates than you’d get by applying online and will be able to work with you through the buying process.
7. Use a personally recommended solicitor. They can make or break a sale, especially if you’re tight on time. I could give you my recommendation, but then 99% of you reading this won’t know me, so that would defeat the object of this point entirely. Do you know anyone who has moved house recently? Find out who your friends would recommend and get a quote from them. Find out exactly what’s included in that quote and check that you’ll have a named point of contact through the whole process. If you really don’t know anyone who’s moved recently, send me a message and I’ll tell you who we use - they’re not the cheapest but they’re worth their weight in gold and we go back to them time and again.
8. Pay someone to pack for you. The last time we moved house was the only time we’d moved with a child in tow. Up until that point I didn’t understand why anyone would pay a stranger to pack up their house for them. I started packing for the last move and my daughter (who was 2.5 at the time) started ‘helping’ me by putting some teddies and PJs on the landing, like we did when we were going away for the weekend. She kept asking what was going with us and what was staying and I just couldn’t bare the thought of packing up her little world box by box over the course of a few weeks. So I got a quote from our removals company and it was so reasonable (I just worked out that it was 0.05% of the price we sold our house for - bargain!) that I couldn’t say no. Once we’d exchanged, the removals company came in the day before the move and the morning of the move and packed everything room by room.
9. Be organised. This might sounds really obvious, but being organised really does help sell your house and make your move easier to manage. Lists are your friend! Also it’s a perfect excuse to buy a lovely new notebook to write all your lists in. Last time we moved I had lists to do with money, dates, changes of address, meter readings, which paperwork needed chasing and what didn’t need packing by the movers. And because I kept it all in a notebook, I can use it as guidance for this move too! Unless you’re super rich and can farm it out, you’re basically the project manager of your move and it is tough, but it’s also satisfying when it’s all done. Last time we moved, the exchange and completion was all a bit rushed, and it happened to fall on a day where my husband was in London. I was so glad I had all my lists to work from! He waltzed in at 11.45am on the day of the move, having been away for 2 nights, with the removals men asking me who he was (seriously, they thought a stranger had walked into the house). If I hadn’t have had my lists, all I would’ve been left with was my own thoughts with no-one to help organise the chaos. Make lists, add to them, and enjoy the satisfaction of ticking things off them as you go.
10. Ask for help. Moving house is stressful, no matter how smoothly it goes. There’s so much to think about, so much to do, so much to keep on top of. Don’t be afraid to ask your family and friends for help, even if it’s with the small jobs. And if you don’t have family and friends close by, ask people in your local Facebook group. People are often really willing to help if they know you need it. But if you don’t ask, how will they know?
Are you moving soon? Or was the last time your last time?! Have I missed anything off my list? Let me know in the comments section below, I always love to hear from you.
Hi, I’m Clare, a South Wales photographer who loves working outdoors with natural light. I cover Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan for maternity, newborn, child and family photoshoots. Get in touch if you’d like to book your family’s photoshoot.