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How are people buying houses in 2024?

By professional house whisperer Rachel Smith.

This may be the first time you’ve sold a house, or you may have not sold a house for a few years, either way it’s important to understand how people buy houses.

Gone are the days when buyers went into an estate agent on the high street and asked for brochures. Everything is now done online and many estate agents, particularly independent ones, don’t have a bricks and mortar office.

The first thing you need to know is that photos are king. When buyers are looking on the property portals they type in the location, the type of house they’re looking for, and the price bracket. They will then be presented with tens, or hundreds, of houses to choose from.

So how do they narrow it down? In this ‘swipe right’ society it’s with a quick scroll, immediately discarding any they don’t like the look of.

Imagine they’re looking for a 3-bed semi and there are 87 in your local area. They start looking at the photos of the first one and they get to photo 3 and see something they don’t like so they move onto the next house and totally miss the best bits!

TOP TIP: Take a look at your competition. Have a look at the other houses like yours in your area in your price bracket. This is what your buyers are looking at. They are directly comparing your house with these houses so identify any negatives that stand out to you and make sure you don’t make the same mistakes.

I can’t emphasise enough that It’s key that you get the photos right. All of them. And that they are cherry-picked and in the right order, not just a massive photo dump of all the photos that have been taken.

The right estate agent will do that for you.

HOW TO CHOOSE AN ESTATE AGENT

You are trusting this person with what is probably your biggest investment so it’s important to get it right.

Don’t just go with the agency with the most boards in your area. This game is really not about quantity, it’s about quality.

Have you ever thought that the reason the bigger agencies seemingly have a lot of boards around is because their houses take longer to sell? Have a look on the portals at the houses that have been reduced the most and you’ll find which agents to steer clear of.

My advice would be to look at all the agents in your area – particularly the independent ones – check out their Google reviews (not the review on their websites) and have a look at their social media presence. There’s so much more to selling houses than just uploading the information onto the property portals.

A good estate agent will be all over social media stirring up some interest in your home before it even goes on the market so do your research and see how active each one is and how they operate.

And yes, they will also use a professional photographer. Have a look at their current listings and see what the photos look like. Ask them if they do guided video tours and drone shots – not just a video of all the photos one after the other.

So, once you’ve found an agent, you need to get people to look through ALL your photos and book a viewing.

HOW TO PRESENT YOUR HOME TO APPEAL TO YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE

Remember that buyers are looking for their ideal home. It might not be their forever home, but even so we need to sell them a lifestyle and, most importantly, space.

They are not buying your furniture (unless you want them to!) or your style, they need a blank canvas so that they can imagine putting their own stamp on it.

Your house should be presented so that your ideal buyer can see where they would put their furniture. Think about how they’ll live in the house, what they’ll use each room for (spoiler alert: it may not be the same way you are currently using the space) and what they’ll need to be able to do that.

TOP TIP: the people buying the house will probably be at quite a similar stage in life to you when you bought the house. So, think about what you were looking for at the time and what made you fall in love with it.

HOW TO GET VIEWERS TO FALL IN LOVE WITH YOUR HOME

This starts from outside.

Firstly, make sure you have a ‘for sale’ board outside and a house number. Sounds obvious? There is nothing more frustrating than trying to find a house for sale that doesn’t have either of these things.

When they do find it, buyers will be judging your home from the minute they step out of the car to the second you or your agent answers the door so make that trip yourself and try and look at it objectively. Does the gate need fixing, the guttering cleaning, the front door washing? Any little negative thing that they see outside will have them looking for negatives on the inside and we don’t want that!

Once they step through the front door, we want them to get ‘that feeling’. So how do you do that?

When buyers come to see the house, we want them to stay as long as possible so any signs of the people that live there should be removed as this can alienate buyers and make them feel like they’re intruding. Replace family photos with generic pictures that will appeal to your target audience.

Anything that indicates that any type of pets live there should be removed. If you can, send your pets elsewhere during the photo shoot/viewings.

Remove all the clutter, particularly on top of wardrobes and under beds – if there’s stuff all over it screams ‘no storage!’ This also applies to kids’ rooms.

TOP TIP: take photos of each room yourself so that you can look at them with a bit of objectivity. Are there too many bits of furniture? Are there any blocked doors? Can you remove coffee tables, foot stools, or other bits of furniture so that buyers can see the space better?

Buy new bedding and make the beds like it’s a hotel. We want people to think that each bedroom is a sanctuary so the best way to do that is with plump pillows and fresh bedding. It also sends people the message that if you take that much care making the beds then you must have looked after the house.

Plants! If you can’t keep real ones, then use artificial ones. Plants bring life, colour, and texture to a space, and will fill a gap instead of more furniture.

Talking about colour, will it put people off?

HOW TO KEEP BUYERS INTERESTED

Whilst I’m a massive advocate of colour and applaud the use of colour in your home whilst you’re living there, unless you’re artistic or have had the help of an interior designer, it’s probably a good idea to keep colours as neutral as possible when you’re selling. You need the house to appeal to as wide an audience as possible – just go steady with the grey as it can look quite cold and one-dimensional on photos.

Any strong paint colours or wallpapers should be tempered or removed. Just because you love it, it doesn’t mean that other people will. And no, people will not ‘see past it’. Colour is massively subjective so instead, use colour on bedding/pictures/cushions/accessories etc. Things that can easily be removed.

TOP TIP: swipe through the photos you’ve taken as any potential buyers would and see if there are any rooms that could be seen as ‘a lot of work’. And remember, buyers will always overestimate how much ‘doing work’ will cost and they will take that off the asking price.

Don’t leave any rooms empty. Most people don’t have vision and they won’t be able to visualise where their furniture will go – even if there are marks in the floor where yours was! So, signpost each room so that they can see what they would use it for.

Pay attention to how it smells and be aware that strong smells can put some people off so too many diffusers or wax melts might not be the best idea. Instead, maybe open the windows and let some fresh air in. It might be a cliché, but I would have something cooking in the oven when people come round, or just before. It adds to that homely feel we’re trying to create.

And with that you should be all set! Go forth and sell your house to the highest bidder!

Rachel Smith
House Whisperer
Clutter is the Enemy

07936 598916
clutteristheenemy@gmail.com
https://www.clutteristheenemy.co.uk/

@clutteristheenemy
@clutter_is_the_enemy

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