How to sell a house: get people in through the front door

In a dead market, these five steps will get people excited about your house

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London Houses

When you're buying a house, your list of must-haves, isn't likely to include a shiny front door or new bedding plants by the front path. So when you put your home on the market, it's easy to argue that these things really don't matter. Unfortunately you'd be dead wrong.

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When you put your house on the market, the first thing on your mind should be the kerb appeal - you need to ask yourself whether someone who walks or drives past (or checks it on Google Maps street view) will be interested in booking a viewing. Then you need consider whether someone booked in for a visit is going to be put off before they even step inside the front door.

The experts explain that while people may not be consciously judging the appearance of the exterior, everything from the state of the front door to the weeds in the flowerbeds are making an overall first impression. It's like ironing a shirt for a job interview: it's not going to get you the job, but failing to do it could lose it for you.

We are all social creatures too, so when buyers tell their friends about the house they're buying, they're aware that they are going to be judging the house. Nobody likes to be thought of as the loser whose buying that ugly house.

What can you do?

Given that you're selling your home, you don't particularly want to be forking out a fortune on new guttering, but there are still plenty of things you can do to improve the overall appearance of the house on a budget.

1. Remove clutter
Garden ornaments, bins, recycling boxes, wellies and scooters all tend to build up outside your house, but they make it look cramped and ugly. Take away anything that's not fixed down, and provide a blank canvas for buyers.

2. Clean the front door
People don't consciously decide that they don't like the house because the front door is filthy: they just get the impression it's a bit grubby.

3. Repaint any old paintwork on doors and windows at the front
If people see peeling paintwork, they're going to assume that there will be endless odd jobs to do when they move in.

4. Consider the pictures on the exterior
Old light fittings, for example, can date the house. So that even if you have a lovely old period house, the buyer can get the impression that something about it looks 'a bit 1960s'.

5. Get a friend to drive up and give you their feedback
The ideal situation is to be able to see through the buyer's eyes, to assess the things that need to change. If you can't do that yourself, ask a trusted friend to do it for you.

It may seem like an awful lot of hard work, just to create a subconsciously positive first impression.

However, in the current market, where the number of buyers has ground to a halt, and you'll be lucky to get more than one or two through the door in an average week, it's essential to make their experience as positive as possible from the outset.

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