Thursday, October 27, 2016

Buying or selling - preparing a property for sale

If you are prepating to move here's what you can do to help sell your property - and what buyers are often lookng for - including you......

According to recent research the way houses and apartments are sold has gradually changed over the last decade - owners are now taking more care how to present their home (known as 'house doctoring') and buyers are taking less time to search, viewing fewer properties before deciding, and come armed with a list of 'must-haves' which will define their choice.

- Typically buyers spend more time on the internet searching through agency websites and consulting private sales announcements and less time on the actual search, down to actually viewing just two or three properties in many cases. Items on many wish-lists include a preference for modern or older style properties, the latter often defined as 'le charme de l'ancien'. Older houses are seen as more solid and particularly if recently converted will appeal to younger buyers making their first purchase.

- Other popular requirements include:
- a large living room, preferably with an open plan (American) kitchen (rare in older properties unless recently converted)
- separate bedrooms for each child, to include a place to do homework, store books and toys, and convertible to a 'teenage den' in due course
- sufficient space and ceiling height to install a mezzanine
- separate larger bedroom for the parents (chambre/suite parentale) to include its own bath or shower room, and if possible a separate clothes storage area - known as le dressing.
- at least one more WC/shower room
- sufficient storage generally, though this is one of the easiest to remedy (numerous storage solutions offered at DIY centres etc)
- large garage - to include space for a workshop or hobbies, storage of sports or camping gear
- outside space - balcony or terrace, space for pets and children to play, possibly a swimming pool as you move further south
- parquet flooring, tiles acceptable in kitchen or bathroom
- a separate WC is a bonus - especially if it is equipped (rarely in my experience) with a wash-hand basin (to avoid visitors using your bathroom).

- A house or apartment with recent, neutral décor, as well as items from the above wish-list will make the job of selling much easier, provided it is well photographed and presented in the appropriate media. A pleasant location, including nice views, are a bonus though some buyers may compromise on either if the property itself really attracts them.

- Property descriptions to note include 'bon standing' (posh!), 'quartier tranqillle' (quiet neighbourhood), 'tout à l'egout' (connected to main drainage).

- Totally empty properties may be harder to sell as potential buyers find it difficult to visualise the overall space and imagine themselves in place. Leaving curtains hanging can help soften the space.

- Small spaces look better when furnished with a few large pieces of furniture (such as an attractive settee) rather than an abundance of smaller pieces, often advertised as 'designed for small spaces'

- I personally dislike convertible or multi-functional furniture - such as a sofa-bed (canapé) that has to be opened and fitted with sheets, blankets etc every night

- I also have a thing about ceiling (pendant) lights, particularly chandeliers, unless you happen to live in a chateau. They are best used over a table (such as a dining table) or kitchen counter, rather than as general room lighting - which can be harsh.

- Ceiling spotlights are much more subtle, particularly if you can adjust them to highlight interesting features of the property, such as wood beams.  You can do the same with 'mood' lighting, dimmers and 'task' lighting for example in your work area.

- If you are a potential buyer, your wish-list may include some or all of the above, and if these desirable elements are not already in place, you can view the property with an eye to its potential for conversion. This is where you may need to use your imagination. Many properties are on sale because their owners need more space and unless they have de-cluttered the property it will necessarily look small and un-manageable.

- You need to look at potential for shifting walls, taking advantage of large windows, introducing lighter colours (not patterned) on walls, using 'accent colours' to emphasise some features, furnishing with more modern pieces, and generally bringing the property up to modern tastes, either your own or that of a potential buyer.

- You may be depressed by the radical changes necessary to make your home  saleable, but keep in mind that your potential buyers will hopefully be the new owners with carte blanche to do what they want with your former home.

- You can get ideas and inspiration watching French TV programmes hosted by estate agent Stephane Plaza such as "Cherche appartement ou maison" featuring property buyers and "Maison à vendre" about preparing properties for sale.The average spend by vendors in the second programme is normally between 3 and 4 per cent of the asking price.  Both on Channel 6.

* An excellent source for design ideas and photographs of small spaces before and after conversions is the website as well as her book which describes in great details how she goes about converting rundown  properties (in Paris, Lyon, Marseilles)  either for sale or short-term furnished letting. She also provide a consultancy service to clients. Packed with colour photographs and detailed cost breakdowns.

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