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If you want to sell your house cheap to a developer, leave your house empty

Updated: Jan 19, 2021

But if you want someone to pay the asking price then you may have to roll up your sleeves and spend some time and money furnishing it. We're not talking thousands of pounds, you just need to give potential buyers an idea of where their furniture will go.

If it is a property that has been rented out then you may need to give it a lick of paint (I would suggest white), and you may need to give the kitchen/bathroom some TLC. I recently had a client who had a faded MDF wood coloured kitchen. The kitchen itself was solid, it just looked a bit tired and it all looked a bit brown (wood-effect floor, brown tiles) so I suggested he paint the cupboards white (Frenchic is amazing paint that has been formulated for this purpose - not an Ad, I just love the paint) and the result looked like a new kitchen. I also suggested he paint the front door (yes, you can paint PVC) and the fire surround, and when he'd finished it looked like a different house.

I have a new client who has started to flip bungalows as a hobby. He's a builder by trade and finishes these bungalows to a really high standard but he has ended up having to rent the last couple out because he couldn't sell them. Why? Because they were empty. More often than not, if someone is buying a bungalow they are downsizing from a bigger property and therefore their main worry is if their existing furniture is going to fit. If the property is empty, how can they tell?

To help this client I am giving him a blueprint for furnishing a bungalow and he is going to invest in the necessary furniture and accessories so that he can move it all from one bungalow to the next as they sell. It's the simple things such as adding light fittings and plants that will make a difference for this client. As a builder he's not used to deciding on things like this but it is these finishing touches that make a house feel like a home.

As we've discussed previously, 90% of people don't have vision; they can't see past what is directly in front of them. If you present a buyer with an empty room they will not be able to gauge where their furniture will go and if it will fit. However, as soon as you put a few pieces of furniture in a room, buyers can then see the remaining space and see what else they can get in there.

Analyse who your target market is and think about what they are looking for and remember, you are not just selling a house, you are selling a lifestyle. It's not just a case of getting a load of mismatched furniture from wherever you can and throwing it in. You don't need to spend much, but you do need to have some kind of scheme (centred around your target market) and buy wisely, and remember: throws and cushions are your friends and can cover up a multitude of sins.

Each room should be assigned a single function and furnished as such, unless it is a room that would naturally have two functions, such as a kitchen/diner or a lounge/diner.

Kitchens are easy, you just need the odd accessory (please stay away from red and lime green) and a couple of plants to soften the edges. If there is room for people to sit, whether it's a table or just a breakfast bar, then make it obvious. You don't have to go as far as setting the table as this often looks contrived, but you should make it obvious how much room there is around the table (don't push it up against the wall) for example.

A lounge should have a least one sofa and one chair, depending on the size of the room. Rugs and coffee tables can look nice, but can also make a room look smaller so should be used with caution. If it is a lounge/diner then there should be two clear zones. You don't need to go as far as buying a TV as often the position of a TV cable can be limiting for furniture placement, and you probably don't want to pay for a TV licence either. I would say yes to a mirror above the fireplace if there is one (any excuse for a buyer to 'see themselves' in your property), and pictures are desirable but not absolutely necessary. They can add personality if the rest of the furnishings are quite plain, but they need to be generic enough to appeal to a wide audience.

Bedrooms should have a bed (it doesn't necessarily need to be a real one, you can stage one out of boxes), matching bedside tables, and matching lights as standard. Anything else you care to add would be a bonus but is not necessary and may start to make the room look smaller again. Bedding should be good quality, preferably plain, and 4 pillows will make a difference on a double bed (2 on a single). Cushions and throws will help here too - never underestimate the effect a well-made bed can have (it particularly makes a difference to the photos) - it shows care and attention and sets the tone for the rest of the property.

Bathrooms are pretty much the same as kitchens: all you need are a couple of plants to soften the edges - NB: piles of towels don't make it look like a spa, it just looks like you haven't got anywhere else to store your towels.

Plants, plants, plants. Plants are the answer to everything in home staging. Nothing says home, or 'I take care of my plants, I take care of my property' more than a couple of house plants. But they don't have to be real, in fact I would advise otherwise in an empty property as you won't be there to water them.

And more than anything, please remember that vertical blinds are for offices and doctors' surgeries, they have no place in a residential property.

If all that seems like too much hard work then just leave the property empty and sell it for a song. Or give me a call and I'll sort it out for you.

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