The countdown to Christmas is on. With less than three months to go, it’s time to start thinking about presents, food and decorating. But what if you want to sell your house and move before Christmas? Is there time?
Property transactions are notoriously unpredictable in terms of the time they take. According to Rightmove, it currently takes an average of 150 days between having an offer accepted and completion. According to that, it’s too late already. But remember that averages are just averages, and that speedy sales are eminently possible, even in challenging periods. People will always need to move house, and attractive homes are always appealing. So if you want to sell before Christmas, the key is to make your home as attractive as possible, and for that you need to start now.
Increasingly, sellers are turning to experts to help them make the most of their homes by dressing them specifically to attract buyers. Home Staging expert Elaine Penhaul was discussing this issue on Radio 4’s You and Yours recently, and she said: “If a house is dressed to attract multiple buyers, it will sell at its guide price or above it.” Coming out of Covid, she quoted that staged properties were attracting 10 buyers rather than the normal average of three, and selling for 15 % over the guide price. While things have changed a bit since then, it’s still very much the case that attractively presented properties can sell for 10% more, and significantly faster too.
There are, of course, many things you can do yourself if you’re reluctant to hire an expert – but it is worth investing some money in improvements. Penhaul says she is always amazed to see property details where the sellers haven’t bothered to make beds or clear up for the photographer, which is something that a good agent should advise you on. But beyond that, it’s important to declutter and make sure that surfaces are largely empty. As she says, people want the dream. Additionally, just do all the small repair jobs that you have been putting off. Buyers are likely to lower their offers if they perceive that there’s work to be done – and a fresh coat of paint on tired areas can make an enormous difference. Painting the front door is another tip from Penhaul – and that can easily be done in a day.
If our homes are our biggest assets, it makes sense to present them to their best possible advantage, and achieving even an extra per cent or two will make a difference to what you can afford for your next purchase. Home staging used to be exclusive to the top of the market, but now it’s relevant at all levels, whether it’s a question of reorganising and putting clutter into storage, or totally revamping an entire house. So if you want to move before Christmas, remember: looks are everything.