According to the recent research, it takes guests just 38 seconds to judge your home. 76% of property purchasers agree that first impressions are everything when they visit a property.

Whether it’s the smell, decor, temperature or how clean your windows are – visitors are often quick to cast judgements on the appearance of how a home looks and feels.

What is it, exactly, that guests first notice when entering a home?

Whether you’re browsing Rightmove, Zoopla or an alternative property app, certain homes always seem to stand out attractively, where others disappear into the background. The allure of home that is well presented and photographed with clear lighting and attractive spaces can be the difference between booking a viewing and ignoring it completely. In fact, 66% of potential homebuyers say that first impressions are vital when it comes to viewing a property online.

1.   Fresh paint, new look

Many potential homebuyers, especially those on strict budgets, are looking for presentable homes that are ready to move into, rather than “projects” or properties needing extra work. If your home suffers from discoloured walls or mismatching ceilings, then a new coat of paint can seemingly transform your home and make it appear modern and clean.

Yet, this is not just advice about the interior of property. Rather, new paint can make a home look fresh, which is just as relevant for the outside walls of a house. This is a small change, but easily noticeable by guests and makes a large difference to your home’s allure. Age and tougher weather can fatigue a house’s appearance from the outside, so it’s important to not overlook its curb appeal.

If painting your whole house seem laborious, consider jet washing the exterior (along with patio areas) to remove most unsightly layers of grit and grime that can damage or discolour surfaces. Often discolouration or dampness is a sign of deeper property damage, and this will deter prospective homebuyers.

2.   Remove trapped odours

Bad, or recurring, odours may not seem significant, but smell is just as important as sight when it comes to a property’s appeal to a wider market of homebuyers.

From cleaning up the bathrooms, to getting a professional cleaning company in to remove residual animal smells or worse, having a freshly scented home will help create appeal to visiting potential buyers. Often a home is associated with the appeal of baking, or fresh linen. Smells can tell a powerful story about your home.

By adding reed diffusers, plug-in air fresheners or simply lighting a candle, you can add warmth and personality that will help attract the right kind of favourable attention. There are a variety of budgeted tricks that can impress future homebuyers, from baking before home visits, to using candles.

3.   Dressing your home up

Fatigued furniture, small repairs and uncared-for carpets can be easily remedied, and should be done before a property reaches the market. There’s a clear distinction between project homes and those that are ready to move into, and properties in-between most often fail to move on the market.

Buyers either want to move hassle-free or desire a project from their property. Edward Church, Head of Strutt & Parker’s Canterbury office, explains how, ‘a pristine house with one damp patch or just one room needing repairs is the biggest problem of all in marketing terms, buyers cannot be bothered with these and tend to move on.’

If you’ve got worn down furniture, for example, throwing a blanket over it can creatively disguise fatigue or general wearing. It can even help realign a room’s colour scheme or hide unsightly stains.

4.   Windows tell a story

Condensation, chips, or general fatigue in windows can pain the sale of a house, especially if they are low or poor in terms of energy efficiency. From April 1st (2020), the minimum level “E” Energy Performance Certificate applies to all tenancies – including existing lets and other properties on the market. If you are getting new windows, consider more than style, but the function of a window. Windows that enhance your EPC (or energy performance) can attract savvy buyers keen for home’s that are efficient.

Windows are often considered a key element in a property, capable of transforming it from a house into a home. They can add warmth and style and are critical to making a sale seem more attractive.

5.   Remove clutter

Having an untidy or cluttered house, either in photos or in person, can quickly derail a sale. Whilst a perfectly clean house seems like a fairy-tale, keeping minimal clutter on surfaces and putting away any toys, props or mess tidily can demonstrate a proud home.

Consider scheduling time to organise and declutter, turning tidiness in a habit, rather than a tedious chore. Clutter is often a sign of a surplus items in a home, so consider the parts of your home that are desirable and how unwanted clutter can harm the image of an ideal home.

Written by Henry Martin, a residential and commercial developer with years of experience in real estate. Henry can be found here

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