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How to sell an unsellable property

Holly Thomas / 01 April 2015

Selling a house is not always as easy as you think. It is even harder if the property has problems or is in disrepair. Holly Thomas shares her guide to selling a home that is proving difficult to sell.

Pets sitting on a sofa
While you adore your pets, potential buyer may find pet hair off-putting

Selling a home is not always as easy as you think. Timing and presentation are essential to clinching a sale.

The best way to think about it is, if you were looking to buy a home yourself, what details would put you off and what would make you want to buy the property?

Here’s our guide to selling your home – and troubleshooting where there are problems...

Not sure what you should do when viewing houses? Read our guide.

Outside kerb appeal

The first task to get your property market-ready is to check its kerb appeal. First impressions count, so think about how the outside of the house looks.

If you need to, paint or clean the front door and tidy the garden — especially the front.

If there are any communal areas, make sure that they are kept clean and junk mail-free.

Insider tips

Inside the house, there is much you can do to impress people with some minor home improvements.

Interiors experts say that lighting and space are key factors. Replace light bulbs with more powerful ones, change curtains and trim any trees and bushes that are blocking the light from the outside.

Windows should be sparkling, surfaces clear and there should be as much light as possible flooding into the property — natural light is preferable.

Keep personal knick-knacks to a minimum too, as while you may like your collection of porcelain figurines, they are not to everyone’s tastes.

Give the whole property a deep clean. Dust everything, including light fittings and skirting boards, vacuum every nook and cranny and air all rooms.

Ensure the agent's photos are picture-perfect

Many photos let sellers down, so make sure that you are happy with the images taken by the estate agent. If not, ask for them to be redone.

Read our guide to the six sneaky tricks estate agents use.

Fix it

When you have lived in a property for a long time, it is easy to overlook the small things which somehow you never got around to fixing. Even if it’s just a leaky tap.

If there are bigger problems that you don’t plan on putting right before you sell, you must be prepared to reduce the sale price by the amount it will cost to rectify. In some cases, you can negotiate to meet just a proportion of the cost, depending on the problem.

Needs modernising?

If the property is dated, then market it as such, so that you can attract the right buyers. There are plenty of people who want to put their own stamp on a home. The key is to be upfront about it.

The selling points will be the potential, so make sure you highlight the best features. In a period property, show off original features by removing grubby carpets to show original wooden floors or taking tired curtains down from pretty sash windows.

The most important rooms are the kitchen and bathrooms: even if they’re terribly outdated, at least make sure they are sparkling clean, odour and clutter-free.

Make the best of a busy location

If your home is on a busy road or railway line then it will appeal to those who need to use transport. If it’s in a commuter zone, then market it this way, emphasising the great transport links.

Pet problems

Remember, not everyone is an animal lover. Even those with their own pets might not want to see dog food or beds, or pet hair, so make sure things are put away for photos – and viewings.

No offers?

Dropping the price by even a small amount can have a huge impact on viewings – and offers. Most people browse online first and the search options include price brackets. By dropping the price and entering a new bracket you could open up to more viewings and, consequently, offers.

Want more tips for selling your house? Read our seven quick fixes that will make your property attractive to buyers.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.