Do you, like almost half the people in Britain, have regrets about your home? Not enough storage and too much noise top the list of things 12.5 million households wish they had considered when they bought or rented their property, according to new YouGov research for the HomeOwners Alliance (HOA).
“Staying at home 24/7 is making a lot of owners reconsider their choices,” says Paula Higgins, head of the campaign group. “Our research shows that while we may get the big things right when choosing a home, we often overlook the smaller, less glamorous considerations. A quarter regretted not paying attention to storage, maintenance issues and noise from neighbours or traffic.”
It might not have mattered so much before coronavirus swept the globe, but now health and home comforts are the ultimate luxury. Government guidance allows tradespeople in homes for essential repairs, such as broken boilers and roof leaks, and with hardware shops such as B&Q reopening, you can take on smaller jobs that can increase the value of your home.
Here, we highlight 100 ways you can boost your house price in lockdown.CHAPTER ONE
1. Declutter what you can see
Sort through everything, and ditch anything you haven’t used in a year or that’s broken, expired, a duplicate or kept only out of guilt. Break down tasks into 15 to 20-minute projects, such as one kitchen drawer or one pile of books on a bedside table. While charity shops are closed for lockdown, put discarded items ready to take in a bag or car boot. If you can’t wait, call a rubbish-clearing firm such as clearabee.co.uk.
2. Declutter what you can’t see
Ian Allen, a regional director at Hamptons International estate agency, plans to move next year, but had a loft full of his three children’s books, DVDs, puzzles and toys. “I reversed my car to the end of the driveway and filled it with the unwanted items (all cleaned) and my kids made some lovely signs saying ‘Take me for free’. My lockdown version of Waterstones or Toys R Us has gone down so well with neighbours that restocking the shelves has almost become a full-time job!”
3. Clear your way
Get rid of bulky furniture that makes the room feel small, such as large TV cabinets if you watch on laptops. Reuse-network.org.uk lists councils and charities that collect furniture, appliances and kitchenware to give to the disadvantaged, although many are temporarily shut.
4. Spruce up the hallway
Flyp, a start-up that dresses empty homes to sell at an average of 5% above asking price, usually adds a coat rack and beautiful console table with fresh flowers and a diffuser to engage all senses. Its designers suggest a mid-century metal console with two drawers to hide post and clutter (£285; tikamoon.co.uk).
Off-white shades such as Dulux Rock Salt (£16 for 2.5 litres) photograph better than pure white, says Ellie Rees, creative director of Brickworks, a London estate agency. Flyp’s staging formula includes colourful feature walls in shades such as Blue 03, a dusty blue with green undertones from Lick (£38 for 2.5 litres, lickhome.com to add a sense of fun and make homes stand out on property portals. “A simple trick is to match your throw cushions to your chosen colour scheme, bringing the room together,” Flyp’s designers say.
6. Cupboard love
Organise the cupboard under the stairs. Ikea’s Algot wall-hanging shelves can be configured to suit just about any space (from £45 for three shelves; ikea.co.uk).
Now is the time to get your house 100% clean to maximise your sale — and set buyers’s minds at ease that yours is a hygienic space. Clean neglected spaces such as the top of the fridge, above curtain rails and along cornices.
8. Clean windows and skylights
Use a magnetic window cleaner or telescopic pole to reach exterior glass high up. You can turn Velux skylights 180 degrees to wash the outside. For sash windows, slide both panes all the way down, then up, to clean the top and bottom halves of the outer pane. Then move the inner pane halfway up to clean it in two halves, with the outer pane first fully up and then fully down.
9. Deal with mould
Carefully wipe it away with a cloth dipped in soapy water — vigorous rubbing will spread spores. Or spray with a bleach-based cleaner such as Dettol Mould & Mildew Remover.
10. Wash walls
You don’t always need to paint to get rid of marks: sugar soap or baby wipes can work wonders on grubby fingerprints.
11. Fill cracks and holes
on interior walls with a product such as Toupret interior filler. Block water stains with a sealant such as Zinsser Cover Stain Primer (£16.99 a litre). Cracks and stains were the biggest turn-offs in a survey of 1,266 buyers by Sell House Fast, a property-buying company. Touch up with leftover paint.
12. Mind the gap
Cover gaps along skirting boards and door frames with decorators’ caulk, not silicone. It’s paintable and you can wipe smudges with a wet cloth.
13. Reduce the noise
Silence creaky floorboards. Sprinkle talcum powder, soapstone powder or powdered graphite into the joints. Place a cloth over the boards, then walk over it a few times to lodge powder into the cracks. If this doesn’t work, lightly hammer a thin wooden shim in any gap, or glue it together with construction adhesive.
Get rid of smells. “There is nothing more off-putting than walking around a house with the smell of wet dog, stale cigarette smoke, or crusty furnishings,” says Edward Heaton, the founder of Heaton & Partners buying agency. Wash curtains and cushions, air the house or at least try to mask odours with scented candles.
15. Tidy the front garden
Declutter, weed the path and paint the gate. If viewings inside properties are still discouraged when the lockdown eases, buyers could make lists of homes they will want to do initial drive-bys for, says William Furniss, a partner at Knight Frank estate agency in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.
16. Recoat the drive
Resin-bound gravel can be installed on top of tarmac or concrete for £50 to £70 a square metre — often less than block paving — and it will neither discolour nor sprout weeds.
17. Plant wisteria
“In my 17 years as an estate agent I have regularly noted that homes graced with wisteria have sold for higher figures than similar homes without,” says Becky Munday, the director of Munday’s estate agency. Wisteria flowers best in full sun and can thrive in the ground or in pots. Otherwise, choose an established plant that is flowering at the moment or soon will be.
18. Paint the front door
It’s simple, cheap and transformative. Sand in the direction of the grain with medium, then fine-grade sandpaper. Use wood filler in cracks and thoroughly dust down. Coat with primer, then exterior wood gloss for a shiny No 10 Downing Street effect, or eggshell for a contemporary matt finish. Farrow & Ball’s best-selling colours for front doors are charcoal Railings, Studio Green and Hague Blue, which all go well with redbrick and rendered exteriors. Joa Studholme, the firm’s colour curator, recommends painting the doorframe as well as the door itself. “It is a small thing, but it makes it look much bigger and grander.” Little Greene’s top sellers are deep Hicks’ Blue, blue-black Basalt and, in a new lockdown trend, yellow. “It puts a smile on people’s faces and it is easily changeable,” says Ruth Mottershead, marketing director of Little Greene.
19. Change door furniture
A bumblebee door knocker (£40) and brass letter plate (£55) from Black Country Metalworks, in Shropshire, would add a contemporary twist to a dark door (blackcountrymetalworks.co.uk).
20. Smarten up your windows: part 1
Repaint wooden windows if they look old and cracked.
21. Smarten up your windows: part 2
Use window film to display the house number etched into frosting that you can easily apply to the glass panel above the door (from £26 for 30cm x 30cm; brume.co.uk). Decorative film with simple designs such as seedpods can also screen street-facing windows with the clean lines shutters would provide — for far less money and loss of light.
22. Hide bins
Shield bins behind an L-shaped screen: set three 10cm x 10cm wooden posts in concrete and cover them with hazel hurdles (6ft x 3ft, £40; primrose.co.uk). Garden Trading has a bin store in blackened spruce (£300; gardentrading.co.uk).
23. Clear gutters
Many companies will still do so during lockdown. Or secure a ladder with a stay at the top and a wall strap at the bottom to do it yourself. Wear rubber gloves to empty gutters into a bucket, hung from a ladder hook so both your hands are free.
24. Communal parts
Do up the communal entrance if you have a flat in a small conversion. “However immaculate your home, if you have to walk up three flights of stairs with bikes and grubby carpets, a buyer will wonder what that says about the landlord and the other people in the building,” Rees says. It’s unlikely that neighbours or the landlord will object if you offer to pay to clean carpets and repaint, as she has done to secure a quick sale on her own buy-to-let flat.
Move your furniture around to see if you can use your living space better. Use the fireplace or view as your focal point. Place furniture so the room will look as open as possible in the photos, says Marina Collett of TPS Furnishings. “Don’t have the back of a sofa as the main focus. Make sure buyers are able to walk over to windows easily as they tend to gravitate there. If the pathway is like an obstacle course, the room will feel cluttered.”
26. Home office
Create zones for work, reading and study — adaptable spaces will now be high on buyers’ lists. “It doesn’t have to be an entire room; a dedicated area with a desk could be enough to make your property more attractive than others on the market,” says Ben Gee, the regional sales director at Marsh & Parsons estate agency. Add a shelf desk in an alcove next to a chimney breast, or under the stairs. In open-plan rooms, screen off a desk with tall plants, a bamboo divider or a freestanding shelving unit.
27. Sort and sell
Flog unwanted books and CDs. The recycling app Ziffit lets you scan the barcode of DVDs, CDs and books. It tells you a price and, if you accept, sends you a label to post it all to them for free.
28. Master the art of the shelfie
Style the bookshelf. Books don’t always have to stand upright — turn those with striking covers to face the room. Punctuate with a few choice candles, bowls and photo frames.
29. Display your treasures
To create a vignette, or ornamental display, you need layers and height. As a base, prop a piece of art or a mirror on your chosen surface. Place something tall next to it, such as a lamp or a vase. Add one or two smaller accents in front, such as a wooden toy or dried seed pod. This will add personality, so your home does not look like a generic hotel.
30. Add a splash of colour
Bring in pops of colour with art, cushions, ornaments and throws. Bright patterned rugs from Naken is another Flyp favourite to make your home stand out online and have a better chance of luring buyers.
31. Go green
House plants bring calm. Tough and fashionable fiddle-leaf fig plants have large leaves and can grow 6ft tall for impact (£170 for 140cm plant), while devil’s ivy trails elegantly down shelves (£15, both patchplants.com).
32. Boost natural light
Hang a mirror next to a window to bounce the daylight — and view — around the room. In tight hallways or box rooms, mirrors can give a sense of a larger and more comfortable space.
33. Spot lights
Use lamps cleverly. If you have tall ceilings, choose tall table lamps, Collett says. Brighten up dark corners with floor lamps. Cast a warm glow around furniture, in bookshelves or over kitchen counters with adhesive LED light strips that you can cut to size (from £15.99 for 5m, ledhut.co.uk).
34. Hang pictures
Finally hang those pictures that have been resting against the wall below where they’re meant to go. A handheld Takker device lets you perfectly insert hooks into any hard wall without the fuss of an electric drill, hammer or wall plugs (£22.49, takker.com).
35. Curate a gallery wall
A trendy alternative to a wallpaper feature wall. Desenio.co.uk has a wide selection of stylish prints from £4.95, and a new step-by-step tool to find the perfect combination of frames for your room. Enlarge your photos from 25p each (photobox.co.uk) or order made-to-measure frames from eframe.co.uk. If you’re combining frames you have, lay them out on a sheet — folded to the same size as your wall area — and move them around until you’re happy. It usually works well to place the biggest frame near the middle.
36. Get fired up
Renovate the fireplace. Sweep up loose debris and scrub down excess soot with white vinegar and water. For a clean look, apply black high heat paint inside the fireplace. Give a plain timber surround a facelift: attach carved wooden corbels from eBay with Gripfill adhesive, then cover in primer and two coats of your chosen wood paint. Total bill? About £50.
Make exercise space. With gyms closed, showing that you can fit in a Peloton bike or a Pilates mat will appeal to the growing demographic of home fitness fanatics.
38. Get into the grooves
Revive grout with bleach spray and a toothbrush, a grout pen (£6.99, screwfix.com) or regrouting. “This will make your bathroom look new again,” says Oliver Gershfield from Flyp, whose makeovers almost never involve ripping out bathrooms because that wipes out the homeowner’s returns.
39. Clean up
Descale the shower head to maximise water pressure. Soak shower screen seals in bleach to get rid of black mould. Pop shower curtains with towels in the washing machine to dislodge mould.
40. Reseal the bath
Silicone sealant must be replaced every year or two on shower baths to avoid leaks. Victorian Plumbing, Britain’s biggest online bathroom shop (victorianplumbing.co.uk), advises to remove old sealant with a Stanley knife. “Slice through the top and bottom edges of the sealant at one end, dig a little out, and pull. It should slide out gently.” Wash down the surfaces with nail varnish remover. Before resealing, fill your bath with water so the weight will stretch the gap between tile and bath as wide as possible. Practice using the cartridge gun on a piece of paper. When you tackle the tub, keep a consistent path around the bath edge to refill the sealant.
41. Fix leaking taps
With traditional taps, where hot and cold water are separate, the problem is usually a rubber washer or O-ring — order a set of common sizes for each of these online. Shut off the water mains and put the plug in the sink so you won’t lose bits. Unscrew the tap handle: the screw is usually under the hot or cold indicator cap. Take off any cover to reveal a brass spindle. Take this out with an adjustable spanner, while holding the tap so you don’t damage its pipe connection underneath. Replace both the O-ring (it looks like a bigger washer) at the top of the spindle and the rubber washer at the bottom. Put the tap back together.
42. Freshen up
Paint unsightly tiles. The Finnish brand Tikkurila has a good specialist primer, Otex Akva (from £16.66 a litre), and floor paint, Betolux (from £18.744 a litre), which sticks to tiles (tikkurila.co.uk).
43. Add bathroom storage
Everyone will want to know where to stockpile the loo rolls. In a small bathroom, Sade Akinsanya from Resi suggests shelving above the lavatory or metal baskets attached to the back of the door.
44. Pare back the bottles
Declutter the shampoo bottles. Donate unopened toiletries to women’s shelters and old towels to pet rescue centres. Keep your daily essentials in a shower caddy — Simplehuman’s adjustable designs are among the rare ones that don’t rust (from £39.99, johnlewis.com).
45. Change door handles and light switches
“Those are the things telling people this is a quality home,” Gershfield says.
46. Replace lightbulbs
Screw in LED versions — that will improve your EPC rating too — and make sure they all work. “Nice warm lights, consistent in ambience throughout the home, can make the property feel far more welcoming than harsh cold lights — unless you are selling an uber-modern minimalist space,” says Heaton.
47. Change light fittings
Rees likes striking pendants such as Habitat’s Kura paper lampshades (£15-£40, habitat.co.uk) with metal ceiling roses and textile cords. Urbancottageindustries.com has a good selection of these fittings. Flyp favours Houseof (houseof.com) run by a talented team who used to design lighting for BHS, for statement chandeliers from £40.
48. Update floorboards
A popular feature for young buyers, according to Flyp, who often sand down dated wooden floors for a modern matte finish. Or replace carpets in living areas with laminate such as smoked oak (£19 a sq m, ukflooringdirect.co.uk), the company says.
49. Minimise noise
You’re more likely to hear the neighbours through empty walls, so push shelving units against them to absorb some sound, says AK Dantes, an architect at Resi. “Materials such as blankets or canvas paintings, hung decoratively, will have a similar effect.” Professional soundproofing costs £1,700-£2,000 for a 16 sq m room, or you can try yourself with materials costing about £700, says HaMuch.com, a tradesperson comparison site.
50. Paint kitchen cupboards
Remove handles and hinges, wash with sugar soap and sand down. Vacuum away all dust, then apply primer. Use a good quality synthetic brush, such as from Purdy, to layer two or three thin coats of paint. “Avoid applying too much at once otherwise you may be left with thick ridge-and-furrow-like brush strokes,” says Merlin Wright, design director of kitchen maker British Standard by Plain English. He recommends Little Greene’s oil-based eggshell paint for “hardiness over time”, or Farrow & Ball’s water-based eggshell, which he finds “more user friendly and just as hard wearing”. Lightly sand and dust down between coats. Annie Sloan, founder of the eponymous brand, says her chalk paints can go on without priming, but they do have to be waxed or lacquered after painting. Her kitchen is painted French Linen, a grey green.
51. Re-coat worktops
Flyp often pours resin over existing countertops for a hard-wearing finish that looks and feels like natural stone. It recommends Leggari’s epoxy kits (£160 to cover 5 sq m, leggari.co.uk). This is a two-day DIY project. For a quicker fix that looks surprisingly good in a marble finish, cover worktops with D-C Fix sticky back plastic, which is heat resistant to 75C (from £4.44 for 1m, vinylwarehouse.co.uk). Rachael Kilby-Tyre, design director of My Interior Design School, says light worktops look great with cupboards in trendy dark blues, greys, and greens. If your worktop is dark granite or slate, she suggests a monochrome scheme with whites and greys.
52. Oil timber worktops
Gently rub down with a non-metallic pan scourer in the direction of the wood grain, then rub in Danish oil with a cloth to restore its natural sheen. Unlike varnish, it is easy to apply and won’t flake (£15 for 500ml, diy.com).
54. Signal your aspiration
Replace small kitchen appliances with upmarket brands such as Smeg or Dualit. “You might think your toaster is fine, but sitting there on the counter, it sends a quality signal about your house,” Gershfield says. Clear worktops from clutter; just leave a bowl of fruit out.
55. Re-do splashbacks
Lustrolite acrylic panels can be glued over existing surfaces, but not behind gas hobs (£127.20 a panel, lustrolite.co.uk). Tiled splashbacks take more effort, but that has not put off a London client of estate agent Becky Munday from re-tiling their own kitchen in lockdown ahead of selling.
56. Upgrade the floor
Click vinyl flooring, which comes in tiles or in planks, is a long way from the vinyl in your grandmother’s kitchen. It closely resembles stone, concrete or wood, but feels warmer underfoot and is waterproof (from £22.99 a sq m, ukflooringdirect.co.uk). Click assembly makes it an easy DIY job to lay over existing floors such as tiles, as long as you first make the surface even and level up thick grout lines.
57. Sort your storage: part 1
Maximise cupboard space. Remove one shelf inside to make space for two, says Akinsanya. Vary shelf heights to best fit your belongings.
58. Sort your storage: part 2
Stack the washing machine and tumble dryer safely on top of each other and cover neatly with sliding doors, Akinsanya adds.
There is nothing worse than a grubby kitchen. Clean appliances. Remove germs from the washing machine by running it with Dr Beckmann Service-it Deep Clean Washing Machine Cleaner. To wash away dishwasher grime, run it empty on a hot cycle with a bowl of white vinegar in the upper rack. For a fume-free oven cleaner, try Delphis Eco’s version (£4.50, delphiseco.com) or make a paste with biological washing powder and warm water. For more tips visit thetimes.co.uk.
60. Declutter wardrobes
Take out one garment type at a time, such as all your jeans or socks or ties. Decide how many you need. Wrap Up London collects unwanted coats for the homeless each November. Donate little-worn workwear to charities that help unemployed people to dress for job interviews, such as the London-based Smart Works, Dress for Success or Suited and Booted, or Suited for Success in Birmingham. Post old jewellery and memorabilia to Vintage Cash Cow for free — they will make you a cash offer or return the box.
61. Clean carpets
Rugdoctor machines are available for hire in lockdown (from £22.99 for 24 hours, rugdoctor.co.uk). Hide permanent stains beneath rugs.
62. Dress it up
Make a dressing area. Place a full-length mirror near a power socket handy for a hairdryer and pair with a velvet chair. This will appeal to many women — the decision makers in the majority of home purchases, according to Flyp.
Choose blinds instead of curtains to update bedrooms. They take up less space and are easier to keep clean. Flyp uses Swift Direct Blinds, which offers next-day delivery on more than 1,300 made-to-measure blinds. Don’t forget blackout lining.
64. Be eye-catching
Recover your headboard to be bang on trend, or opt for bold wallpaper behind the bed, another Flyp technique to grab buyers’ attention online. In children’s bedrooms, paper the whole room, Gershfield says. “It’s more fun.”
65. Paint on pattern
For the effect of wallpaper with less hassle and cost, use a patterned paint roller. The Painted House sells rollers with designs from delicate seedheads to artistic birds (from £15, plus £12 for an applicator; etsy.com). You can use it on fabric too.
66. Child’s play
Tidy children’s art. Photograph your youngster’s best creations and display them in a stylish Instagram-style grid of squares on one framed poster. You can print this through photobox.co.uk, which has useful collage templates.
Trim the garden — more than ever, this space will sell your home. Prune hedges, mow the lawn and lop tree branches that block light. Andrew Perratt, head of country at Savills estate agency, is advising a Surrey country house seller whose two adult sons have moved back in for lockdown: “All of a sudden Mum and Dad have labour resource again.”
Invest in garden furniture to enjoy lockdown — and to highlight the outside entertaining possibilities, says Mark Lawson of The Buying Solution. You can take it with you or sell it with the house. Look to create different nooks in the garden.
69. Join the good life
Plant vegetables. Raised beds can be built relatively cheaply from old railway sleepers, decking or wood, says Charlotte Moxon, the head of regional new homes at Strutt & Parker. “Anywhere flat or sunny will work, and May is the best month to begin planting parsnips, beans, carrots and broccoli.” Not only is it stay-at-home solace for you, but buyers will think about this time and be looking for signs of the “good life”, she adds.
Pressure-wash the patio — you can buy pressure washers online from about £50. Run water through the washer for one minute to remove any air before you fire away.
Repair the deck. Leave small gaps between boards, or they will bow when swelling up in wet weather. Hardwoods, such as oak, teak or iroko, or durable woods like redwood or cedar, are more expensive than softwood decking boards sold in DIY shops. They are also far more durable, although they will still go grey if not oiled regularly. To prevent rot and insect attack, DIY Doctor, a home improvement website, recommends treating the deck in spring and autumn with two coats of Boracol 10RH (£32.40 for 5 litres, diyrefurb.co.uk).
Add basic landscaping, such as a garden path made from leftover bricks and bark chips.
Spruce up a tired fence with bamboo or willow screening (from £13.99 for 3m x 1m, primrose.co.uk). This works equally well for adding privacy to a balcony.
74. Window box
Plant a window box to brighten up your home’s exterior and soften harsh views from the inside. Heucheras, in a wide spectrum of colours, are attractive year-round and look good with Muehlenbeckia trailing down. To easily swap seasonal flowers in and out, plant them in their pots with the bottoms cut off the pots.
75. Show off
Take photos of your garden while blossoms and wisteria are in full bloom, says Belinda Hutchinson-Smith, director of Strutt & Parker estate agency in Shrewsbury. “If you have woodland, take pictures of bluebells in full bloom too. If you decide to sell, these pictures will be invaluable in portraying the beauty of your garden.” Doctor Photo can give your photos a facelift with blue skies and straight lines (from £1.60 per photo, doctor-photo.co.uk).
76. Find your target
Profile your buyer. If you plan to sell, target your home at who you were when you bought it. Rees has turned many a nursery back into a home office in starter homes aimed at young couples. When she told one client with three under-fives to stem the tide of pink plastic, they hired a Zipvan on viewing days and temporarily filled it with the toys. “You’ve got to remove that feeling of bursting at the seams,” Rees says. Conversely, if the kids have left and you’re selling the family home, get the Penguin book collection and toy box from the loft to re-create a child’s bedroom.
77. Research estate agents
Check which are most successful on property portals in your area and price bracket. EstateAgent4Me, a comparison site set up by the HomeOwners Alliance, ranks agents for each postcode, according to the average percentage of asking prices achieved and the average number of days it takes them to sell a property. Make sure they belong to a professional body, such as the NAEA Propertymark or the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
78. Research property prices
Look at sold prices of similar homes near by. Don’t believe any agents who try to butter you up with higher valuations than that. With the market on hold and almost no new data, most experts struggle to predict the market post-lockdown. Many think prices will remain flat or fall, but by how much will depend on job losses and confidence.
79. Book a virtual valuation
Get advice from estate agents — they have time on their hands — via video call. An owner who plans to sell his Wiltshire home as soon as lockdown lifts gave a Facetime tour to Chris Husson-Martin, from Hamptons International estate agency in Salisbury, who gave him a list of items that needed attention. It included moving furniture to create space, combing the moss off his thatched roof and using small trees to obscure neighbouring property. The seller has updated Husson-Martin on his progress with Whatsapp photos.
80. Request virtual viewings
Ensure your agent will include a virtual tour of your home on property portals. Technology such as Reevo 360 or Matterport lets users navigate through the house via a floor plan, exploring each room from any angle — essential for marketing during coronavirus restrictions. To create it, a specialist photographer would need to visit your home once lockdown eases, or before if your home is vacant.
81. Get staging advice
During lockdown, home-staging companies such as The Property Service can advise you via video link on how you could smarten up your home (£144 an hour; tpslondon.com). Such designers can dress empty properties that are for sale with their furniture, which is for hire from about £400 a week for a basic two-bedroom flat. Homestaging.org.uk lists more providers.
82. Be purposeful
Give every room a purpose and stage it accordingly. Turn disused space from a dumping ground into a sale asset — and enjoy it in the meantime. At a house in Camden that languished on the market for six months, Flyp turned the empty basement with its low ceiling into a cinema with a sofa, projector and graffiti-style wallpaper. “A kid walked past the listing in Primrose Hill, pointed at it and said, ‘Home’,” Gershfield says. The parents bought it for £1.95m.
83. Create a crib sheet
List the points you want your estate agent to show off to prospective buyers. Pointing out where you spent money on renovations can translate into a higher offer. Grant Bates, an associate director at Hamptons International in Islington says: “They can show the positives about your house that a buyer would want to know — what part of the garden is best for light, that the water runs hot all day.”
84. Write a neighbourhood guide
Describe the high points for your future buyer to help them imagine living in your home. Almost all buyers calling Munday’s estate agency in London over the past month have wanted to be near large green spaces, says Becky Munday, the managing director. “This was an area they might have compromised on before – now it’s an essential.” Map nearby parks, long walks, bike rides and wild swimming spots, and highlight these in marketing. Jo Eccles, a buying agent and founder of SP Property Group, has seen sellers create guides with tips on the best local sourdough bakeries and farmers’ markets.
85. Boost your broadband
Anything to supercharge your connectivity will put you in a stronger position to sell when the time comes, and make working from home easier, says Mark Lawson. Check if you can get superfast fibre broadband at openreach.com, or apply on the same website for a community fibre partnership to bring cabling to your area. Grants are available.
86. Planning permissions
Get planning permission for a loft, side or rear extension, or to convert an outbuilding into a home office to work away from family chaos. Approval can take eight weeks and is valid for two years. Regardless of whether you’ll do the work, it shows potential, says Bates of Hamptons. “While we will not change our valuation based on planning approvals, it again adds appeal for any buyer, removes one hurdle, makes the potential development more real and viable, and should lead to a stronger end price. Don’t apply for anything that is likely to be rejected, as this will have the reverse effect.” From £720, Resi can draw up plans and apply to your council. To show the vision to buyers, a basic 3D interactive model starts from £100 per floor, and a full 3D walkthrough with two high-quality images from £540 (resi.co.uk).
87. Check your energy performance
Every house must have an energy performance certificate before it can be marketed. These are valid for 10 years — see if your home has one at epcregister.com. Improving your EPC rating could add £16,000 to the sale price, according to government research from 2013. Easy changes include fitting a smart meter, loft insulation and draughtproofing — your EPC will recommend changes for your home.
88. Get yourself ready
Find the right paperwork. This can take weeks, so start now. If something is missing, you can take steps to replace it. “It will make selling your property a lot easier and help ensure a speedy process,” says Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark. The estate agent body’s Property Information Questionnaire is a great starting point to take you through all the information required, such as on boundary issues and ancient covenants on the deed.
89. Get your finances in order
If you have a mortgage, find out if your lender will charge a penalty for repaying it early. Check your credit report for errors that may scupper your chances of getting a new home loan.
90. Appoint a solicitor
Ask friends or your estate agent for recommendations. “Instructing your solicitor to prepare a sale pack can take two weeks off a transaction time,” says Ben Gee of Marsh & Parsons.
91. Certificates: part 1
Locate building control certificates for the completion of extensions, loft conversions and structural changes such as removing a chimney breast. If it is lost, get a copy from your local council. You also need compliance certificates for more minor work such as fitting a new boiler, a fuse box or cavity wall insulation, which a registered installer should have self-certified.
92. Certificates: part 2
Consider retrospective building regulations sign-off if you did not get it at the time, but the works would have passed. You don’t need this “letter of regularisation” for anything done before 1985. It is not a simple process: an application to your council’s building control department costs £300-£500, takes weeks and involves cutting holes for inspection. If the work is unsafe, you must take it down.
Take out indemnity insurance for legal defects that cannot be resolved. The policy is attached to the property, so will also protect your buyer with compensation if there is a future claim for damages. Yet it won’t pay to rectify works. You can get this cover for lacking building regulations certificates, but only if the work took place more than a year ago and you have not told the council about it. That means it will be invalid if you have contacted them about retrospective sign-off.
94. Collate guarantees and warranties
This may be for the building itself, if it is very new, or could relate to a new roof, solar panels or a new boiler, for example.
95. Find your Fensa certificate
This applies if any double-glazed windows or doors were installed after 2002. If this is missing, you can buy a copy from the Fenestration Self-Assessment Scheme for £25 (fensa.org.uk/fensa-certificate).
96. Prove who you are
Under new rules, estate agents must do more rigorous checks to know their clients and prevent money laundering — especially on the most expensive homes. Ask your agent to start the process now, so your sale won’t be held up once lockdown lifts and their compliance team is overwhelmed.
97. Get title deeds
The Land Registry will have official deeds, unless your property hasn’t been sold since 1986. If you can’t find the deeds, your mortgage provider or the solicitor who helped you buy your home might have a copy. Failing that, apply for a “title absolute” from the Land Registry, a laborious business in which you’ll have to prove legal ownership.
98. Lease: part 1
If your home is leasehold, get a copy of the lease and a management information pack from the freeholder or managing agent. If you own a share of the freehold, you’ll also need documentation on the freehold structure.
99. Lease: part 2
This advice is for if your lease is nearing 80 years. Below that, the renewal price rises exponentially and puts off buyers, who will find it hard to get a mortgage. To add 90 years, reduce ground rent to zero and avoid nasty new clauses in the lease, insist on a “statutory” extension. Even if your lease is above 80 years, this will still cost you several thousand pounds, including both your own and the freeholder’s legal fees. For more advice go to lease-advice.org.
100. Register as a farmer
If your property has more than five acres apply to the Rural Payments Agency before May 15. This will generate subsidy income and may cut a buyer’s stamp duty, thereby adding value.
● Additional reporting by Ruth Bloomfield