Selling your house make it easy for yourself
You don't see pictures of houses beside the chocolate bars, chewing gum and cheap children's toys near supermarket check-outs.
A home, it almost goes without saying, is not an impulse buy.
That doesn't mean you can't ruin your chances of selling one before the potential buyer has even climbed out of their car.
A driveway overgrown with weeds and cluttered with wheelie bins can be a crushing turn-off before they even get to see how lovely you've made your kitchen.
"First impressions really do count when it comes to selling a house," says Carl Smith.
It's worth listening to Carl because he knows what he's talking about. As Estate Agency Manager for The Nottingham Estate Agency, Carl has sold hundreds of properties. He understands what buyers want to see - and all the little, easily remedied things that can put people off within the first five minutes of a viewing.
"You're not selling a house. You're selling them their home - a property they can see themselves living in and being happy in. It is a crucial difference," says Carl.
Here are Carl's room by room tips to presenting your property in the best possible light.
The front garden
Make sure your driveway is clean and tidy. If a potential buyer sees borders and block paving choked with weeds they will inevitably think: "That looks like hard work to maintain." Likewise, make sure your viewers aren't having to squeeze past stinky wheelie bins. Give any peeling doors, windows or fascias a lick of paint. A nicely presented front sets the tone for what follows. You want that perfect first impression.
Clear away clutter. Don't confront your viewers with stacks of coats and shoes that will make your hallway look poky and claustrophobic. If your hall is quite dark, make sure any table lights and picture lights are switched on. Make sure your home smells inviting. Get a plug-in air freshener, but don't overdo it. You don't want your potential buyer gagging on a choking fog of Glade.
The living room
Shelves and sideboards heaving with family photographs make you feel at home. They'll mean nothing to a buyer. They want to picture a room in which they can make their own happy memories. Remove some of your personal stuff so those dreams have space to breathe. Consider painting rooms in neutral colours. It sounds obvious, but make sure your floors are clean. Muddy bootprints all over your tiles and laminates will fill heads with thoughts of endless domestic drudgery. Again, that's not an impression you want to create. If it's a chilly winter's day, make sure your heating has been on long enough to get the room warm but not stifling.
It has to be clean. That is a non-negotiable. Don't disgust a buyer with a grease-gunged hob or grill. Make sure your surfaces and worktops are clutter free, particularly if your kitchen is on the small side. Don't have your washing machine on during a viewing. Viewers don't want to see your undergarments doing an exuberant twirl or be deafened by a noisy spin-cycle. You want them imagining boozy dinner parties and hearty family Christmases, not dirty pants.
The back garden
Make sure the lawn's cut and the borders are weed-free. Your garden should look like a pleasure to sit in on a warm summer's evening, not a potential back-breaker. If you have a dog or cat, double-check there are no nasty brown surprises for buyers to step in.
"Fresh" is the watchword. Few things are more off-putting than a grotty bathroom. Ensure toilets are flushed and clean. Don't leave wet towels on the floor or steaming on radiators. Leave a window open. Give the bathroom a quick spray with air-freshener. Give the grouting between your tiles a good scrub. Don't have soap dishes puddled in slime.
Don't leave clothes on the floor or dangling from door handles. If you have children, make sure most of their toys are put away. Don't put everything in the loft. If you have a two, three or four-bedroom property your buyer is likely to have children too. They want to see rooms that look loved and lived-in. They're buying a home not a hotel suite. But, again, they don't want to be overwhelmed by untidiness.