Estate agents don rubber gloves to clinch a sale

Warren Lewis
3rd November 2014

According to the latest study of estate agents, opening windows to get rid of bad smells, flushing the toilet and hiding inappropriate items on display are just some of the things agents do to make properties suitable for viewings.

The study of more than 250 agents, commissioned by Big Yellow Self Storage, reveals that while some vendors put a lot of time and effort into making their property look presentable, not all sellers share the same house proud mentality.
Many agents have had to clean properties and hide items ahead of viewings: over a third (36%) have had to open windows to get rid of smells, 31% have pushed things under a bed and 29% have tidied up mess. Others have resorted to age-old tactics to increase desirability, including turning on lights to create the impression of greater brightness (22%) and brewing fresh coffee (15%) to waft through the house.

The top tactics employed to make properties look presentable are:
1.    Opening windows to get rid of smells (36%)
2.    Pushing things under a bed (31%)
3.    Tidying up mess (29%)
4.    Turning on lights (22%)
5.    Tidying items away into cupboards (21%)
6.    Spraying air freshener (17%)
7.    Brewing fresh coffee (15%)
8.    Flushing the toilet (12%)
9.    Hiding inappropriate items (12%)
10.  Encouraging the owner to get rid of large items (10%)
Kate Faulkner, property expert, comments: “Every agent wants to get the best price they can for their sellers, but many of the ways they do this go unnoticed. Agents get a bad press, but the research reveals that they’re often going above and beyond and undertaking less appealing tasks to make sure a property is presentable at viewing time.”
The research also reveals agent’s tips on boosting property’s sale price. Ways that reap particular dividends are: clearing kitchen of small appliances such as kettles and toasters (adding £973 in value), creating an open plan living area (£972) and de-personalising the property by removing ornaments and knick knacks (£948).
It found that in some cases, de-cluttering by removing bulky items to maximise space pushed the sale price up by as much as 11%. In fact, each square foot of floor space freed up is estimated to be worth an average of £238 by agents researched.
Anthony Chenery, Big Yellow spokesperson, says: “The UK is in the grip of a housing squeeze with the smallest homes in Western Europe, so space is increasingly desirable for buyers, as agents well know. Our research found that a fifth of buyers (22%) wouldn’t make an offer on a property because it was too cluttered, so it’s in the interests of agents to advise vendors on how they can maximise the space in their homes to clinch that sale.”
A huge 95% of estate agents say de-cluttering leads to homes selling for more – 38% insist it increases the sale price 'every time' – and yet only half (56%) have recommended short term self storage to clients as an aid to selling their home.
And the proof is in the pudding: the study reveals two thirds of sellers who de-cluttered before viewings received a higher offer than expected – £4,811 more, on average.
Anthony Chenery adds: “Self storage allows vendors to remove bulky furniture which makes the home feel smaller, or personal items they’ve accumulated over the years that they’d rather not throw away.
At Big Yellow you can store from as little as seven days or for as long as needed, so it’s ideal for keeping possessions out of sight from the outset when capturing photos for the online listing, as well as during the viewing period and up until a sale is made.”
The survey also reveals the bug bears agents claim put buyers off making an offer on a property.

Top responses include:
1.    Decorations, i.e. Christmas and birthday (35%)
2.    Kitchen appliances cluttering surfaces (33%)
3.    Overcrowded wardrobes or cupboards (24%)
4.    Mounds of children’s toys (16%)
5.    Cheap or old car outside (13%)
6.    Feature wall (10%)
7.    Clothes lying around (8%)
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