Want to cash in on stamp duty relief? Experts share top tips to help you sell your home

Since the easing of lockdown and Rishi Sunak‘s decision to raise the stamp duty threshold to £500,000, the housing market has seen a considerable resurgence.

Many Brits who held off putting their homes on the market during the pandemic are now eager to sell before March, meaning they can cash in on the tax benefit on a new place. 

According to the Nationwide house price index, house prices grew 1.5 per cent in the year to July, reversing the falls seen between May and June. The lender predicted the stamp duty holiday will provide an additional boost to prices in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile Rightmove reported it is seeing an uplift in city dwellers considering moving to the countryside – and this is outperforming an increase it is also seeing in home hunters looking to move from a city to a town. 

If you’re looking to market your property there are a number of subtle changes you can make, along with presentation techniques, that will help you secure a quick sale, according to industry experts.

Here FEMAIL reveals the tips and tricks to help you bag a buyer in 2020 and potentially save yourself £15,000 in stamp duty on your next purchase. 

Many Brits who held off putting their homes on the market during the pandemic are now eager to sell before March, meaning they can cash in on the tax benefit on a new place. Pictured: stock image

Know the key phrases on buyers’ minds right now

London-based estate agency Dexters’ marketing director Richard Page told FEMAIL that the capital’s property market is ‘incredibly busy’. 

‘This strong demand is translating into over 9,000 viewing appointments being arranged by Dexters each week and 90 transactions being agreed each day – that works out at 12 an hour over a typical working week,’ he said. 

‘The two new catchphrases from buyers are “workspace” and “outside space”. The experience of lockdown and the expectation of home working by employers has made people re-evaluate the purpose of their home. 

‘In the unknowingly carefree days before Covid-19, a home was a home and geared around relaxation, leisure and family. 

‘Now, for many, a business-like working environment is part of the equation – so a study, or a library in prime central London, is a very desirable asset.’

If you have a viewing, Richard suggested creating a working space with a laptop set up so the buyer can visualise how they could work from home. 

According to the Nationwide house price index, house prices grew 1.5 per cent in the year to July, reversing the falls seen between May and June. The lender predicted the stamp duty holiday will provide an additional boost to prices in the coming weeks. Pictured: stock image

According to the Nationwide house price index, house prices grew 1.5 per cent in the year to July, reversing the falls seen between May and June. The lender predicted the stamp duty holiday will provide an additional boost to prices in the coming weeks. Pictured: stock image

Adaptability is key

While offering working environments such as an office isn’t feasible for some properties, particularly at the expense of a bedroom, Richard recommended showing the property has the potential to be adaptable. 

‘If a separate room isn’t available to use as a workspace, consider transforming part of your hallway or landing into a work space,’ he said.

‘If the garden is big enough, perhaps an office pod or a chalet. Outside space could be a balcony, roof terrace, garden or even quick access to a local park or river.

‘It is important for sellers to think about what their home offers and how flexible it can be to meet the new priorities.’  

Staging experts reveal how to style your home to appeal to buyers

Style & Stage recommends carefully choosing coffee table books and introducing greenery for added glam

Style & Stage recommends carefully choosing coffee table books and introducing greenery for added glam

Showhome specialists Hayley Rodol and Leiselle de Napoli, co-founders of Style & Stage, point out it’s vital anyone looking to sell their home make an effort to try to understand potential buyers.

The duo regularly working with leading developers and estate agencies across London and the Home Counties, with a focus on bringing key interior trends to life throughout their projects. 

Here they share five key ways in which homeowners can instantly update their home if they’re keen for a quick sale.  

Choose a mixture of neutral tones and textures rather than bold colours 

Style & Stage always work with tones and texture, choosing to avoid bold colours as they can be divisive for prospective buyers. 

Instead use a mixture of many textures and tones to add warmth and depth to every room whilst creating a property that has broad appeal, to ensure buyers remember a property for the right reasons.

Add greenery to rooms to bring the outside in

The second way to add glamour is adding greenery to most rooms, whether it is a large indoor tree with an oversized textured pot or small house plants dotted around the home.  

Create a spa-like bathroom using hand soaps and scented candles

Create a spa-like bathroom using hand soaps and scented candles

Create a spa-like bathroom using hand soaps and scented candles

Add elegance by creating a spa-like environment in your bathrooms – giving people a welcome escape from their busy lifestyles. 

Using calming scents and a handful of well-thought-out accessories, such as scented candles or high-end hand soap, a simple bathroom can be transformed.

Choose interesting coffee table books

Coffee table books should be authentic to the property’s location or character and be appealing to the prospective buyer. 

Using specialist suppliers for books ranging from travel to philosophy and everything in-between, we believe good book choice is a great tip for styling a home. 

In one project, Style & Stage used over 500 second-hand books to dress a home study to create an authentic environment.

Try to avoid the stereotypical ones – don’t put out that Tom Ford or Chanel book everyone has. Books based on the local area or an interesting artist are more likely to appeal – especially if it is something people haven’t seen before.

Use statement storage space in the kitchen

The kitchen is the hub of every home regardless of its size, so Style & Stage like to add depth and character using statement storage solutions. 

This also shows the kitchen’s practicality, rather than being a contrived space, and makes it more authentic to a prospective buyer. 

Present your pad to a ‘show home’ standard 

When it comes to selling your house, presentation is key – and this means getting it up to show home standard, according to Richard.

‘This means clean windows, cleared gutters, well-tended gardens, an immaculate front door and a clear hallway,’ he said.

‘Laundry, children’s toys and general kitchen clutter should be put out of sight, the curtains pulled right back, all light bulbs working, beds made, clean carpets and super clean bathrooms.

‘Make sure the garden or any outside space is well tended, with plants cut back and no weeds. 

‘Light your log burner or fire in the winter months. These are the details that make a difference to a buyer’s experience.’  

Use lockdown as a decluttering opportunity

Andrew Groocock, regional partner at Knight Frank estate agency recommends using the current restrictions as a prime time to declutter – which will be of great benefit if you’re looking to sell your property.

‘This time at home is giving people the perfect chance to reconnect with their houses,’ he told FEMAIL.

‘Clearing out the cellar and sorting the loft, for instance, make the spaces much easier to show in the future.

‘You’ll probably find loads of things that you no longer need and can sell on eBay! You managed to live without them for the last two to three years, so why not permanently?

‘Where possible pack up the children’s plastic and smaller things and pop them in the garage. 

‘Garages are pretty much ground floor lofts these days, so feel to cram as much in them as possible. Buyers generally don’t care if the garage is packed or empty.’

Rethink your furniture layout – and put some in storage

Harry Bethell, a partner at Knight Frank Cirencester, suggested putting some furniture in storage while you’re trying to attract a buyer.

‘Buyers may well take a peek inside your fitted wardrobes and kitchen cupboards,’ he pointed out.

It may also be worth rearranging your rooms to find the optimal layout which makes them appear as spacious as possible.  

Christopher Burton, a partner at Knight Frank Dulwich, said: ‘Too much furniture and the property feels cluttered and cramped. 

‘Too little and people often struggle to imagine if the furniture will fit, particularly in bedrooms. 

‘This is particularly important in the entrance hall, as first impressions really count, so make sure it is as cleared as possible. 

‘You only need a small amount of the main bits of furniture, so consider how easily people can walk around the property without being inhibited by things jutting out.’

Make sure each room is functional 

Harry Prynn, a negotiator at Knight Frank Beaconsfield, said it’s important to dress your home in a way that makes it really obvious to buyers what the functionality of each room is. 

‘Buyers rely on being guided on what they will be able to do with each room, and are much more likely to put in an offer if everything is laid out clearly,’ he explained.

‘I was instructed on the sale of a home in Berkhamsted where the loft was being considered as unusable by potential buyers, as a result of the huge bed that really didn’t complement the low ceilings. 

‘Once the vendors were advised to replace the bed with a smaller, more reasonably sized bed, the home sold within weeks. 

‘This example demonstrates that buyers want to know what the potential of each individual room holds, and to be able to envisage themselves there without too much imagination. 

‘For this reason, it shows how important it is to dress your home when selling, even if it is simply means replacing the cardboard boxes in the dining room with a dining room table!’

Spruce up the exterior

Edward Cunningham, a partner in the Country Department at Knight Frank, said giving the exterior of your property a revamp is a good investment.

‘Buyers’ first impressions are so important,’ he said. ‘Jobs could include filling in any pot holes on your drive, decorating your entrance porch and window frames, and tidying up the garden. 

Harry Bethell added: ‘Lay new gravel or tarmac and mend and paint fencing gates that have got a bit tatty. Mow the lawn and plant the borders with flowers.’

Get busy with those DIY jobs 

It’s also worth catching up on those internal jobs you’ve been putting off, such as hanging pictures and touching up the paintwork. 

One key room that often needs a bit of TLC is the bathroom. Harry Bethell suggested: ‘Make sure bathrooms are spruced and clean with no mould, damp smells, leaking taps or limescale. 

‘Replace worn out rugs and use new, clean towels. Replace cracked tiles, fill in any holes in the walls and give them a lick of paint in a neutral colour if needed.’

He also recommended fixing any squeaking, dragging doors, checking your kitchen drawers and cupboards all open freely and popping on a new bedspread prior to a viewing.   

Invest in a neutral air freshener – and whip up a pot of coffee

While your pet may smell fine to you, doggy or cat odours can be very over-powering for some buyers, particularly if they’re not animal lovers. 

According to Nick Warner, a partner at Knight Frank in Henley, smell is a crucial element for stimulating an emotional response to a potential new home.

‘People go to varying lengths when preparing their house for a viewing – I knew of vendors who would have bread baking and fresh coffee brewing on every viewing,’ he said. 

‘Little tricks like this engage potential buyers and increase the chances of an emotive response towards the property. 

‘Attention to detail is key when styling your property – it can be the best looking house, but if there is an unwanted pet-smell, these little things can really take the edge off something selling. 

‘Although these things are particularly important in the high-end market, when it comes to presenting your house well, it is advantageous to have an eye for detail at every level of the market.’

Make sure it looks lived in

Nick told FEMAIL an empty or un-kept home will not sell nearly as fast as a property that has been carefully crafted to entice the right buyer. 

‘Visually, the impact is huge – a dressed home has the ability to allow a potential buyer to envision themselves at the property, and make sure that they aren’t intimidated by maintenance work,’ he observed. 

‘Not only is an empty home far less likely to capture the imagination of a potential buyer, it also suggests that the vendors have already moved on and that there is a financial pressure around the sale, giving the buyer the impression that they’re an advantageous position when making an offer.

‘This goes for the garden too – deck out your terrace area with loungers, tables and chairs to show it is often used.’ 

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