Thursday, July 2, 2009

Preparing your property for sale

The concept of 'house doctoring' or 'home staging' as it is known here has been slow to take off in France, in spite of a regular TV series on Channel 6, presented by Paris-based estate agent Stephen Plaza.

What the programme shows is that virtually any property that has been slow to sell in competition with its rivals can be radicallyimproved and succeed in finding a buyer, usually within days of preparing it for sale.

Among the most common dislikes voiced by potential buyers were unfinished DIY attempts, poor decoration, bare trailing wires, missing or damaged light fittings, exposed pipes, rotting woodwork, dog smells, too much furniture, tired decor and furnishings, dirty kitchens and bathrooms, untidy gardens and garage, and general clutter and untidiness. Too much evidence of the owners' personal taste (such as a collection of sports trophies or evidence of pets) were also strong turn-offs.

What appealed most to potential buyers includes fresh paintwork in light, neutral colours; good natural lighting; absence of clutter; ultra clean bathroom and kitchen; and new, modern furniture (often hired specially for the home staging!).

Buyers, as Plaza points out, lack imagination and you cannot expect them to see through the clutter and imagine a property's 'potential'. Even a young girl's bedroom painted in pink will deter a couple with a son. Better to re-paint it in a neutral colour such as grey or beige. And grandma's antique commode will not appeal to a young couple who shop at Ikea. Buyers prefer a property where they feel they can put simply down their bags and continue living.

Most of the improvements made to homes shown in the programme cost less than 2 to 3 per cent of the sales value. All of them invariably received one or more offers on the first day they were put back on the market, often by people who had visited the same property before the transformation.