If lockdown has left us with anything, it’s an appreciation of being outside. People are savouring the outdoors and noticing more of what’s around them, with gardens and balconies rising higher on the priority lists of buyers.
But first impressions are also key. Your photographs, a drive-by, a virtual viewing or a later in-person visit: how your home looks from the outside sets the mood for the next stage of someone’s interest.
So from your initial kerb-appeal to your garden or balcony, this week’s blog is all about getting the outside of your property working to your advantage from front to back, to get you sold this summer.
Think of the face of your home as the face you show to Zoom meetings: you want it to make a good impression. Exterior work is generally seen as more of a chore than interior decorating – it’s less glamorous; it’s up against the elements; it could mean other unexpected repairs – so it’s best to put it to bed.
Front doors really are the entrance into someone’s dream, so take a look at yours to see if it needs a new coat of paint: current ‘timeless’ trends are British racing green, dark matt grey, and poppy red. Or, for timber doors where the wood is good, you could strip it down and treat it to a high quality matt varnish for some warm, scandi-style ‘hygge’. As a finishing touch, clean up the door furniture: there’s little to beat the comforting clunk of a shiny polished knocker!
Check to see if your gutters need clearing of spring blossom (or autumnal leaves if you’ve not been up there in a while!) and that they’re in good condition. And how’s your paintwork and pointing? Check any fascia boards, soffits and window frames for obvious cracks and flakes, then sand, fill and paint. It’s also worth looking at your walls to see if any missing mortar or render needs replacing. Take the opportunity to remove any accumulated cobwebs.
Clean windows are a thing of beauty, so if you have a regular window cleaner now is the time to book them. If you’re doing the job yourself, make the lower windows your priority because that’s where most dirt forms, and where you’ll see the biggest difference inside. The ground floor is also closest to your viewers’ eyes and likely to get the most scrutiny.
A FRESH APPROACH
Even in the summer, dead leaves, blossom, flower petals, or just good old dust can build up in doorways, steps, pathways and drives. So do an initial big sweep to clear any backlog, then a swift weekly brush-up should keep things looking great.
If you have a pathway or drive with a hard surface that has discoloured, use a pressure-washer to bring back the original finish and get it looking as near to new again.
Weeds between paving stones should be removed, but an exception to perfection might be moss growing between pavers: this can actually look deliberate and beautiful, so use your judgment (or send us a picture) for whether it should stay or go.
And while you’re there, check for any loose paving, cobbles or bricks (or for holes if you have a concrete path).
A FLORAL FRONT
Even if you only have a doorstep onto the pavement, it can still look lovely. Pots, window boxes or hanging baskets can soften the threshold between the world and home, as well as creating a strong identity for your property. They also look great in photos, on video, or in person.
If you have a proper front garden, make sure it looks loved: grass cut; beds weeded; plants watered; clutter gone. There’s so much good information online, even for total novices, and, who knows, you could end up with a new hobby. And if there’s room for a bench or chair, it makes a fine welcoming statement.
For a communal staircase, a tub of flowers or a gorgeous and healthy house plant can turn a no-man’s land into an everyman’s entrance. Large contemporary leaves in a glamorous container are not only a good investment for viewings, they’re also something you can take with you if you grow attached during your time on the market.
Having a place to sit, eat, chat or relax is perhaps the most important factor when setting your garden up to sell. Whether you’ve got a small patio, a family-sized lawn or something much larger, a table and chairs convey the image of spending quality time outside.
Make sure the furniture is an appropriate size for your space; a small patio needs only a bistro set, while a larger garden might very well take a grand eight-seater under a pergola. Do you have your eye on something now that you could take to your next home and that fits where you are now, or something your purchaser might want to buy from you?
Tidy is good, and so is making it easy. Stow away any kids’ toys or garden tools in an outdoor storage box – wood or rattan can look great, particularly with a cushion on top to double as a bench – or in the shed if you have one. Screwing some hooks inside the shed and hanging things from the walls keeps the floor and surfaces chaos-free.
For larger gardens, having a kid’s zone where toys can remain out, and an adult’s zone from where toys are banned, will show how your garden works for all ages all the time and without compromise.
You don’t have to plant up a Chelsea Gold Medal winning garden, but you can make a big difference by clearing any clutter and ensuring that no plants are obscuring your windows. And just like at the front of the house, make sure gutters are clear, paintwork fresh, windows clean and paved areas weed-free.
If you’re a green-fingered soul and your garden is planted and preened to perfection, you’ve got your gold star! If you’re a total novice, simply adding a few tubs of flowers, grouped in threes or fives around the seating area, will make a lovely photo and a fine place to sit. Herbs are also a quick win: they’re easy to grow, smell great, and do wonders for your cooking!
Balconies tend to end up in one of three states. If yours is already a charming suspended haven to enjoy, there’s nothing to read here. But if it’s completely empty, or it’s become a storage area because you’ve outgrown your home, there’s work to be done.
Your balcony is a valuable asset, and a buyer will definitely want to see that important piece of real estate underneath your forgotten overflow of stuff. So take this opportunity to sell, donate or bin whatever you’re not going to take with you, and to put into storage anything you can’t find a place for inside.
As for gardens, seating means savouring. Stools or small bistro sets are excellent for little balconies and you can also pop a plant on the table or for some greenery, without losing any floor space. For larger balconies, go for a bigger dining set, and maybe even an easy chair: the key is to show comfort without having to shuffle around the furniture. And again, could you find something to take with you to your next home, or that your buyer would want to purchase?
Planting tricks for small balconies include pots on top of the balcony wall or balustrade, and hanging baskets suspended from an outside wall, or from the underside of the balcony above: with more floor space comes the possibility of grouping larger pots and tubs. Whatever you have, think about the kinds of plants that will thrive: whether your balcony is sunny or shady, there’s a plant that will love to live there.
That’s it for part two of our Selling in Summer blog. We hope you’re inspired with ideas and advice, but if you’d like to talk about any aspect of selling your property this summer, we’d love to hear from you.