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25May

So, you’re ready. You’ve met with your dedicated estate agent and they’ve lined up some viewings - people who will hopefully take one look at your property and offer the full asking price! If only it were so simple. Fortunately, here at Castles we’ve put together a guide on preparing your home for sale, with helpful hints and tips to wow any potential buyers and get you one step closer to a sale. Read on to find out exactly how to realise the maximum value of your home.


Curbside Appeal    


Before even booking a viewing, many buyers will drive or walk past the house they are interested in, to see how it looks and what the area is like. Don’t waste this opportunity. Make sure you tidy up the front of your house so that it looks presentable. That means clearing away toys and debris from the front garden, mowing the lawn, trimming hedges or sweeping the drive. Perhaps your door and window frames have seen better days? Give them a fresh lick of paint or a touch up if needed. Clean your windows. Remember, first impressions count so if the front of your house looks inviting, buyers will be more interested to see what’s inside. Books, perhaps not, but when it comes to houses, people will most definitely judge by the cover!


Fresh Bathroom

 

Get out the cleaning products. Your bathroom needs to sparkle and shine when preparing to sell your home. Buyers will not be impressed by limescale and mould. For a natural way to remove limescale, use lemon juice, which gives the added bonus of leaving a nice fresh smell. If your bath or shower sealant is crumbling or covered in impossible to remove mould, replace it. Fix any leaky taps or broken toilet seats. Hide your toiletries (toothbrushes, toothpaste, flannels, shampoo, etc.) to make your bathroom appear less cluttered. Finally, open the windows and let some air circulate, especially if your bathroom is prone to damp and mould on the walls.

 

 

In the Kitchen

 

In addition to cleaning your kitchen until it shines, paying particular attention to decluttering your surfaces, make sure you clean any integrated appliances that are part of the sale, such as the oven. If you have a kitchen diner or dining room, set your table as if for a meal, complete with matching crockery, polished cutlery and lit candles to add some ambience. An age-old tip for showing homes to buyers is to have something baking - cookies are a good choice as you can offer freshly baked cookies to the buyers, further warming them to you and your home. Or, if you’re not much of a baker, simply simmering some spices and herbs in a pan of water on the stove will release the delicious aromas throughout the house. 

 

Garden Space

 

A garden is often a major selling point, so if you are lucky enough to have an outdoor space, it is likely this is one of the bigger factors that will influence the people viewing your home. Capitalise on this by making sure your garden is tidy and not overgrown. Do some weeding and clear away outside clutter. Check there are no broken fence panels, giving them a touch up of paint if needed. If you have an old, unused shed or playhouse that is looking a bit worse for wear, consider tearing it down to make the most of the space. Let the buyers envision sunny afternoons spent relaxing in the garden or indulging in a gardening hobby, not be distracted by overgrown grass or discarded toys on the lawn. You don’t need to transform the space into Kew Gardens, but with a little effort here and there, leaving a tidy space will be sure to leave buyers with a good feeling. 



Animal Friends


We love our pets, they bring us so much joy. But not everyone may feel that way. Be prepared that the people viewing your house might be allergic to, or simply not like your furry or feathered friend. And nothing is more distracting and possibly even off-putting than a barking dog dashing around the room in excitement at strange new visitors. The influx of new people into the home may also prove stressful for your pet, so it’s best to leave them with a trusted friend, neighbour or family member while viewings are going on.

 

Friendly Attitude

 

Remember, you are trying to sell your home. Think about a time you have gone into a shop and the store assistant has been unhelpful or indifferent, did it make you feel less inclined to buy from them? A friendly, positive attitude makes all the difference when it comes to selling. When people are viewing your home, be friendly, answering questions and pointing out some of the key features of the property. What do you like best about the house? Share it with buyers, giving them your unique perspective. Be enthusiastic, but not pushy, as this will turn people off. Offer them drinks or snacks and let them know you’re available to answer their questions. Be prepared with answers to some of their more detailed questions. Check out this Which? guide for the kind of things buyers might ask.

 

Declutter

 

Clear away the clutter in your home. Space is very important to buyers so maximise your space by removing unnecessary items and clearing away things that have been left out such as clothes, plates and rubbish. They will also want to check out the available storage space, so make sure cupboards, etc. are reasonably clear and well ordered. Resist the temptation to shove all the clutter in the attic or garage, as buyers will likely want to have a look there, too. If possible, clear out the garage, as buyers will definitely want to have a look and clearing it will help maximise space. Consider a professional clean to leave your house truly sparkling. Particularly think about your carpets and kitchen appliances that may not have seen a deep clean for some time!

 

Maintenance

 

If there is anything that needs fixing, get it fixed before the potential buyers come round. You might think they wouldn’t notice a broken hinge or leaky tap, but you would be surprised. Buyers want a house that is in good condition. Part of making a good first impression is ensuring any repairs or maintenance are completed in advance. A house that is well cared for is going to look more appealing than one that hasn’t, leaving buyers to wonder if there are any other, more serious issues that might not have been addressed. Check all your light fittings are working and that all plumbing is up to scratch.

 

Decorating

 

Whilst you might adore your bright orange and purple bedroom, it might be a bit of a turn off for potential buyers. If possible, think about redecorating certain rooms, using neutral colour schemes that are more likely to make the room look brighter and more spacious, as opposed to darker colours that can make a room look dingy and small. Carpets are included in this, although if you’re not keen on splashing out on new carpets, strip the floors and lay down some laminate or wood flooring to make the room look new and fresh.

 

Sell the Vision

 

Finally, buyers want to be able to envision themselves living in the property. Minimise distractions as much as possible to allow them to do so. Some estate agents may recommend temporarily removing family photos, as it is hard to imagine yourself living in a home with pictures of someone else’s family distracting you. This is ultimately up to you, however. Buying a house is an emotional purchase - help sell them the vision to increase their connection with the property, to the extent that they will want to put in an offer straight away.

 

As people who have been in the business of selling homes for many years, our best piece of advice is to remove those rose-tinted spectacles when it comes to your home and look at it as though you were the ones planning on buying it. Would you pay the maximum price you are asking for your home in its current condition?

 

For more advice on how to sell your house fast, or if you would like to book a house valuation, contact one of our expert team of estate agents today on 01793 61167 or email us. We are here to help with all your home selling queries. 

25May

According to Halifax, the UK’s largest mortgage lender, housing prices in Britain are falling. In April, prices fell by 3.1%, the bank says, marking the biggest monthly drop since 2010. However, this should not be cause for alarm as the lender also said it expects an annual price inflation of up to 3%. If you are looking to sell your home and want to ensure you are getting the best price, regardless of the state of the property market, we have put together a list of some of the top ways to increase your home’s value in 2018, from least expensive to a little more pricey. So when it comes to asking the question ‘how much is my house worth?’, you’ll still be smiling.

 

1. Curbside appeal

 

The first thing potential buyers are going to see when they pull up for their first house viewing is the exterior of your property. As we all know, first impressions count. Give your house the chance to shine by putting in some effort to make sure the outside looks perfect. That means, cleaning the windows until they sparkle, tidying up the front garden and maybe even giving the front door a new lick of paint. All fairly simple things that can make a big difference when it comes to marketing your property. A well looked after house is a valuable one. For more advice on preparing your house for viewings, read our blog. 

 

 

2. Energy efficiency

 

An energy efficient home is worth a whole lot more than a not so energy efficient one, it seems. According to the UK government, energy saving improvements can increase a home’s value by 14% on average. Things like loft insulation, installing double glazing and even solar panels can contribute to increasing the energy efficiency of a property. Improving a house’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) could result in a value increase of more than £16,000. Technology comes into play again, with the availability of new smart technology energy systems such as British Gas’ Hive and the Bosch Worcester Wave, allowing you to more accurately control elements like heating and electricity from your smartphone, improving energy efficiency and increasing your home’s value.

 

3. Extend/convert your space

 

An extension or conversion will definitely add value to your home, with a conservatory or extension increasing value by 15% on average. The same goes for converting a garage or cellar into a usable living space. Loft conversions are popular too, and have been known to increase a home’s value by 20%. Extensions can be costly though, so it is important to weigh up the potential value increase alongside the cost of the build.

 

 

4. Replacement or second bathroom

 

According to Nationwide, an extra bathroom or ensuite can increase property value by 5% on average. It is easier than ever to add a second bathroom. Not sure you have space? What about using space under the stairs or adding an ensuite to your bedroom? It doesn’t have to be a full blown bathroom spa, just a toilet and sink will do the job and help drive up the price of your house.



 

5. Refitted kitchen

 

If your kitchen cupboards are looking a bit tired and outdated, consider having your kitchen refitted. If you have a big enough space, kitchen islands are proving very popular in modern kitchen design. A cheaper alternative is to replace your cupboard doors and handles, rather than the entire units, creating a fresher looking kitchen that will automatically boost the value of your home.  

 

6. Garden

 

Any outside space is a major selling point for your home, so it is important not to overlook it when considering how to increase your home’s value. You have two avenues, both of which have their benefits when it comes to preparing your house for sale.

 

First, there is the low maintenance garden. If you speak to most people, we’d wager they would say they’d love to have a garden, an outdoor space to enjoy when the weather permits. However, many of those people would be less keen at the prospect of spending weekends weeding, pruning, mowing and sweeping. In this case, a low maintenance garden is your friend. The fewer plants, the better, and for the plants you do have, try to keep it simple. If you want to keep your lawn, make sure it is easy to mow. An easy alternative to a lawn is decking, landscaping gravel or paving stones. Remember, just because it’s low maintenance, doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful.

 

Secondly, you have the full scale, landscaped garden. Buyers will not fail to be wowed by a beautifully landscaped garden, envisioning themselves relaxing in the tranquil settings. Unlike the low maintenance garden, obviously this requires a lot more work, more likely with the assistance of a professional or two. But the stunning effect, and the impact on your home’s value, appeal and salability will definitely be worth it.

 

7. Enhance light flow

 

Space is always going to be an important factor when selling a house. A great way to create the illusion of more space and therefore increase the property’s value, is to introduce more natural light into the home. Think about installing a skylight to let in more light, or replacing your back doors with patio doors, giving the added bonus of a view of the garden, another factor that will affect the house’s value. By making sure the skylight or doors are double glazed, you will also be improving the energy efficiency of the home, while making it look brighter, airier and more spacious. Guaranteed to entice the buyers.

 

House Valuation Swindon

 

Ultimately, the best way to ensure you get the best price for your property is to speak to an experienced, knowledgeable agent who knows the market and can offer tailored advice and guidance on how to improve the value of your home and prepare it for sale. Getting a valuation will help you determine whether making adjustments to your property might truly benefit you in the long run. For a house valuation in Swindon, contact Castles Estate Agents on 01793 611677 or complete our free house valuation contact form. Find out more about our free, no obligation expert valuation service here.




24May

Buying a house is one of the most simultaneously exciting and stressful times of your life. There is so much to consider, it can often be overwhelming. If you are looking to buy a house, check out our helpful advice and tips for house viewings, including what to look for when buying a house and important questions to ask.


Be Practical

 

It can be hard when you walk into a house and immediately identify it as your dream home, to remain objective for the purposes of making sure the house is fit for purpose. Try not to get carried away too quickly, as what at first appears perfect, may have a mound of issues you’re going to be faced with later down the line. On the other hand, buying a house is an emotional decision so it is important to listen to your instincts and don’t let minor issues stop you from seeing the true potential of a property. It might be helpful to bring along someone who is not so invested in the process, to give their objective opinion as they may pick out things you wouldn’t necessarily notice.

 

Head Outside

 

Inspect the outside of the house, looking out for any obvious structural problems or other issues. Does the roof look old and in need of repair? What about the drains and guttering? Ideally, a full house survey should be done, but getting a sense of any issues in advance can help inform your decision and prepare you for any surprises.


View at Different Times

 

Visit the property more than once, at a different time. This not only allows you to ask any additional questions and check things you might have missed on the first visit, but also gives you the opportunity to see what the area is like at different times and on different days. Is there a lot of loud, busy traffic in the early mornings and evenings? Is the house near a pub or takeaway where you might be subjected to the noise of late night revellers? What is parking like in the area at different times of day? It will be helpful to get a sense of this sooner rather than later when you’ve already signed on the dotted line.


For houses to buy in Swindon, visit our property search page.  

 

Spacious Enough?

 

Is there enough space? You don’t want to end up cramped and crowded. Try to identify if you and your family and belongings will all fit comfortably without being on top of one another. Storage space is very important. Where will you store things like winter coats or the vacuum cleaner? Ask to see the available storage space to get a better sense of this, including the attic and garage spaces. Check out our property listings for 3 bedroom houses for sale in Swindon


Look for Damp

 

Check for signs of damp as this can be a difficult and potentially expensive issue to solve. Some sellers might try to cover up damp patches with paint, so look for signs of fresh paint on the walls in case this could be covering damp. You should also be able to identify damp by its musty smell, so be wary of strange smells as this could signify a damp problem. Check that the property has good insulation and air flow, as well as double glazing.


Test it Out


Don’t be afraid to test things like opening and closing windows to check they are working or running the tap to test water pressure. You may feel a bit embarrassed testing the toilet flush in front of the seller and agent, but it is better than having problems in the long run.

 

   Visit the Local Area

 

If you don’t live in the area, take the opportunity to explore. Find out where the local schools and shops are and how long it takes to get there. Where is the nearest bus stop? Is there a nearby park? Are you under a flight path? Getting to know the area where you might end up is important.


Ask Questions

 

During a house viewing is the best opportunity to ask those key questions of the seller and agent. Make a list of things to ask and bring it with you so you don’t forget. If you are bringing someone for moral support, they might have questions you hadn’t thought of. How long has it been on the market? If it has been on for a while, what are the reasons? What are the neighbours like? What are the local schools like? Which? has put together a house viewing checklist with questions to ask when buying a house.


Think about what you will be using your house for. Will you be entertaining often? Or is it more of a cosy escape? Will there be children playing in the house? You should think of these things to ensure the house you are viewing is fit for purpose and you won't find yourselves searching again in a few years' time.


Remember, when viewing a house it is important to take your time. Buying a house is a huge decision, so don’t let the seller or agent rush you. Ask as many questions as you can and don’t be afraid to contact the seller or agent with any follow up queries. Armed with these tips you should be able to handle your next house viewing with ease.

 

For more information and advice on buying a house, contact one of our expert team of estate agents on 01793 61167 or email us. We are here to help with all of your home buying queries.

03Apr

Why Is My House Not Selling?

 

4 Core Reasons Why You May be Struggling to Sell Your Property

 

As we have been discussing in recent months; the housing market has been moving away from a sellers’ market into a neutral market. Whilst this has given the buyer more choice, and posed some important considerations for sellers - our team at Castles have been working harder and smarter to get the best results for our customers.  

 

In this article, we’ll be exploring a few reasons why your house is not selling. Whether you’ve just listed it recently or it’s been on the market for a while, there are four core elements affecting the sale of your property.

 

In an ever-changing market, choosing the right estate agent has never been so important. Our professional, honest and reliable agents are on hand to provide advice and support to give your property the best chance of selling. If you’re asking yourself ‘why is my house not selling?’, it may be time to review your marketing strategy.

 

1.     Your Property

 

Have you been worried that your property itself may be the reason why you’re struggling to sell? At Castles Estate Agents, we truly believe there is a buyer for every home - so we can rule out this reason.

 

2.     The Market

 

As we have previously reviewed, the market has shifted to a more neutral market, and all our agents have been working harder and smarter for all our clients. Whilst this market shift may be tougher on sellers, we firmly believe (and have evidence to prove) that we’re in a market where the right property, marketed at the right price, by the right agent can and will sell.

 

This isn’t us advising you to sell your property for less than it’s worth - not at all. Understanding the property market will make all the difference when it comes to your marketing strategy, and this includes pricing. Find out more about how we’ve helped sellers succeed in these case studies.  

 

3.     Your Price

 

Whilst we wouldn’t be able to speculate on the current price of your property versus it’s true value, asking price will always have an important part to play in the sale of your home. If you’re unsure about your property value or asking price, get in touch with a member of our team for advice or to book a house valuation.

 

4.     The Agent

 

With the above factors having less of an impact on your house not selling at this stage, it’s important to look at how far your agent is going to sell your property. Whilst we’re not questioning your choice of agent or their performance, we have years of experience selling properties for home owners who have previously had agents that have run out of ideas.

 

Despite popular opinion, not all agents are the same, and listing your property online just won’t suffice when it comes to selling your property.

 

Our actions really do speak louder than words, and the team at Castles are proud to be part of a hardworking, traditional team that drive results.

 

For no obligation advice and information on your house not selling, get in touch with our friendly and experienced agents who are here to help get your property journey back on track. To sell your house in Swindon fast, call us today on 01793 61167 or email us at swindon@castlesproperty.co.uk

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