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What sort of things are worthwhile doing before selling?

(19 Posts)
MurderOfProse Thu 25-Oct-12 13:03:48

Sorry for the length, I want to avoid dripfeeding!

We're about to move into rented (with a long term view to buying a forever home in a few years) so we can get our current house into a fit state to be sold. As with three small children and a tiny two bed London house, it was never going to happen.. too much necessary furniture.

We're under no illusions, the place is "in need of updating" despite spending quite a bit over the last few months, but for the most part we never got around to stuff as we were planning on moving years ago, it just took longer than we thought thanks to negative equity.

We haven't got a limitless budget and obviously we'd prefer to sell sooner rather than later. We're also moving a few hours away so we can't really supervise any major projects easily unless it's really worthwhile.

In our local area houses seem to go reasonably fast so long as they're priced correctly, so we're not too worried about being stuck with it forever. We can afford the overlap for a bit although it is eating into our deposit savings.

The bathroom and kitchen in particular are somewhat dated, but we've accepted that and a buyer will have to as well - it will be reflected in the price.

But what about "easy wins" - which ones would be worth doing, and which ones should we definitely do and which ones probably won't make much difference? Bear in mind it should sell fairly easily if we price it right, but obviously we'd like to maximise that price and sell it a bit quicker. We're paying £800/month mortgage if that makes a difference.

This is the order we're likely to do things in.. at which point should we stop?

1. Paint the back garden fences (currently looking rather tired, garden itself is reasonable though)
2. Repaint barge boards at the front of the house
3. Sort out the front "garden" a bit
4. Replace the living room carpet. It has holes and looks very tatty.
5. Replace the fuse box, it still has those bits of wire fuses in it!
6. Get a new kitchen sink (again with the holes in the wrong places)
7. Redecorate the bright red walled bedroom into something bland
8. Spend a low four figure sum on replacing the kitchen cupboard/drawer fronts
9. Do the bathroom anyway (so much easier with us all not living there)
10. Redecorate the entire place in magnolia (or whatever the recommended colour is these days..)

(..) Something I've not thought of, any ideas?

If the place doesn't get offers quickly, we'll probably do more from the list, but really I'm interested in what we should do for a first selling attempt.

Also - do we need to get the boiler serviced, out of interest? Or the electricity?

thanks in advance - really grateful for any thoughts! smile

lalalonglegs Thu 25-Oct-12 13:39:11

It sounds a lot of stuff to do, are you sure it's going to be worth it? Maybe sell as a project? I'm not sure if replacing the consumer unit is that useful if the rest of the wiring is not up to reasonably modern specifications.

MurderOfProse Thu 25-Oct-12 13:46:15


That's the thing - we probably won't do all of it, the last few I've stuck on there are probably what we'd try if we had no offers at all. I'm sure that by doing at least a couple of them we'll improve the saleability if not the price. I'm just wondering which would definitely be worth doing.

The house was built in the early 80s, and presumably has never been rewired, but I have no idea how good the wiring is in the rest of the house. Not had issues with it, but, well, I'm no electrician! So I don't know if wiring from the 80s is a bad thing or not.

trudat Thu 25-Oct-12 13:53:41

I agree with above. It's unlikely to sell to anyone with many kids in tow so buyers will be in more of a position to renovate.

I wouldn't do bathroom or kitchen. When viewing make potential buyers aware that you are deliberately leaving these jobs so they can make these decisions. And that this is reflected in the asking price. If you pick the 'wrong' style you could at worst put people off or have them offering less as they want to rip out your brand new fixtures because their taste isn't the same as yours.

Walk through every room and make a snagging list. All the wee jobs you've put off. Filling holes in walls, squeaky doors, blown bulbs, loose carpets, etc and deal with these first.

Also, I'd replace the carpet with something neutral and as nice as is affordable.
Paint everything.
Reseal the bathroom esp if any sign of mould.
Declutter but don't make it clinical. Add plants, candles to make it homely.
But, most of all, clean! Everything! Everywhere! As if your life depended on it.

PolterGoose Thu 25-Oct-12 14:29:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SunsetSongster Thu 25-Oct-12 14:40:46

No advice from me I'm afraid as I had the same question. If your bath needs resealed who would you ask to do it? Seems a bit of a small job for a plumber/bathroom fitter? Ours is a bad DIY job from the previous owners and I am not sure we could do better.

minipie Thu 25-Oct-12 15:42:41

My tuppence worth:

1. Paint the back garden fences (currently looking rather tired, garden itself is reasonable though)

Yes, assuming not a big job

2. Repaint barge boards at the front of the house


3. Sort out the front "garden" a bit


4. Replace the living room carpet. It has holes and looks very tatty.

No. Buy a large cheap rug from IKEA and cover up the worst bits.

5. Replace the fuse box, it still has those bits of wire fuses in it!

No. Few buyers will look at the fuse box on viewings. But if the buyers' survey brings up wiring concerns, be prepared to do this at that stage.

6. Get a new kitchen sink (again with the holes in the wrong places)

Probably not, if the whole kitchen needs redoing anyway.

7. Redecorate the bright red walled bedroom into something bland


8. Spend a low four figure sum on replacing the kitchen cupboard/drawer fronts

No. But do make sure everything is clean and uncluttered. There's "dated but well maintained" and then there's "complete dump".

9. Do the bathroom anyway (so much easier with us all not living there)

No, but clean and uncluttered as above.

10. Redecorate the entire place in magnolia (or whatever the recommended colour is these days..)

Probably not... but depends on what is there at the moment. If it's hideous patterned wallpaper then maybe worth it. If it's just your choice of colour, I wouldn't bother.

Other - as mentioned by a response above, it's worth fixing things around the house to make it seem cared for/well maintained. Things like broken doorhandles, cracked glass, wonky kitchen doors. You may not even notice these any more but to a buyer they will shout "what else is broken".

ClareMarriott Thu 25-Oct-12 17:27:04

Yes, i'd go for kerb appeal first. Paint the barge boards and make the front "garden " look like a garden if there is no back garden. Keep the bins out of the way if you can. If you don't want to go to the expense of doing up the kitchen and bathroom, make sure they are completely clean and decluttered ( and everywhere else ) Lastly, make sure any outstanding jobs are completed Good luck

MurderOfProse Thu 25-Oct-12 23:18:48

Brilliant, thank you so much everyone! thanks all round!

trudat - Yes, we're inclined to think the same about the bathroom and kitchen. My mum had her brand new kitchen ripped out when she moved which was gutting, as she'd waited years to finally get a decent kitchen. But she had to move as my dad ran off with another woman and the house had to be sold or she'd never have done it up if she'd known she was going to be selling shortly. A snagging list is also a great idea. We're getting in professional cleaners (with instructions to completely blitz the place) so hopefully the cleaning won't be an issue.

PolterGoose - yep, it's a FTB property alright, we were when we moved in! The boiler service is a little out of date so we probably should get that done. The bathroom is a bit of a tragedy unfortunately as it dates back to when the house was built and is avocado. One of those projects we never got around to doing. Aside from cleaning it all, nothing we do in that room short of replacing it is going to increase the price I think!

minipie - fabulous, thank you! That's a good point about the fusebox. We knew it was old when we had our survey but couldn't be bothered to knock them down on price based on that, although to be fair this was in 2004 and it was a seller's market back then. Good idea about the rug though, although DH has just pointed out that as the place will be devoid of furniture, it's going to look a bit suspicious having a massive rug in the middle of the room!

ClareMarriott - yes, the front "garden" was definitely on my "most important" list, it can make all the difference I suspect. We have a reasonable sized back garden for the area, but I've spent some time recently tidying it so thankfully that's one thing I don't have to do! Aside from painting the fences - we already have the paint and the sprayer, it's just finding a dry few days right now, ha ha!

Thanks again everyone, you've been fab!!

Viviennemary Fri 26-Oct-12 00:30:42

Why not get one of these home staging people in. If I sell a house again that's what I'm going to do.

MurderOfProse Fri 26-Oct-12 00:39:39

Thank you for the suggestion! I don't think it's worth it for our place though.. it's a tiny 2 bed unremarkable mid terrace so nothing all that special, and I think it'll sell because I've been keeping a close eye for the last few years on the local market. The big question is how much will we lose because of the work that needs doing.. and no amount of beautiful staging will hide that. I think it would be different if there were lots of houses like ours on the market and we wanted to stand out, or if it were bigger/nicer in general but neither of those apply.

Brugmansia Fri 26-Oct-12 08:27:16

I see you've said in your later posts that there will be no furniture in the place. Is that because you're taking it all to the new rental?

I'd maybe see if you can keep some furniture in, the minimum for each room to be functional and comfortable for its intended use. If a place isn't absolutely pristine, ie completely newly done up, it can look tattier if empty. With nothing else to look at any flaws are more obvious.

If it's like many typical London houses I'm guessing most of the rooms are a perfectly decent size but not huge. Some people will see an empty room and overestimate how big it is but a lot will be uncertain how it will work in practice. Some furniture makes easier for the buyer, eg they can see that a particular smallish bedroom is big enough for a double bed and wardrobe.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Fri 26-Oct-12 11:28:07

We're looking to buy at the moment and I would say new kitchen/bathroom is actually off putting for me - I expect the sellers to want it reflected in the price and I don't want to pay for someone else's taste! Ditto the carpet.

Things like repainting barge boards and fence and tidying the garden are worth doing I think because they give the impression the house is generally looked after.

I wouldn't bother with any of the 'room dressing' stuff or magnolia paint. I think most buyers see straight through it having watched location, location, location for years. Again, I'm not paying for some else's idea of a lifestyle.

Basically, as a buyer I want a house which is well priced and looked after (but not necessarily pristine). That's it!

cavell Fri 26-Oct-12 11:52:56

Have you got floorboards under the tatty carpet? Sanded and varnsihed floorboards might be an improvement?
I wouldn't necessarily redocorate unless you have hideous wallpaper/wallpaper peeling off/garish colours. So I think it's worth repainting the bright red bedroom but as long as the other stuff is inoffensive, I would tend to leave it.

MurderOfProse Fri 26-Oct-12 14:11:15

Thank you!!

Brugmansia - unfortunately we do need to take all our furniture with us as we're moving to unfurnished, and it's nearly three times the size of our current place so we're going to have trouble filling it as it is! Plus our sofa is a bit tatty (we're going to replace it obviously, but deliveries on these things take months and we'll need to sit down in the meantime!) As part of trying to squeeze us all into our current tiny house we've got rid of most furniture over the years that wasn't absolutely 100% necessary which leaves us with nothing to leave behind. But I totally take your point.. just not much we can do about it!

FruitSalad - that's my thoughts as well. We've kept the house maintained on a basic level over the years, just not done any major reworks hence it looks a bit dated. The carpet really is in awful condition though, it was 8 years ago, and three small children since throwing food on the floor etc you can just imagine.. It was one of those things we were always going to get around to doing, but with so much stuff and nowhere to put it when the new carpet would be fitted, we never managed to sort it out!

cavell - Unfortunately it's just concrete under the carpet, more is the pity. The other rooms in the house are relatively sane compared to our red bedroom (what were we thinking.. actually I have no idea) so I'm thinking we may well leave those.

Just had a quote back for doing an electrical survey.. £200 shock - trying to decide if it's worth it or not. Same person quoted us for replacing a bathroom extractor fan (bloody thing annoyingly exploded on us a few days ago, picked its moment) at £250. Again, this seems like a lot of money to fit a fan which is probably no more than £50. I know electricians have a living to make and overheads too as I have a small business myself, but I also know it doesn't take that long to do the job either.

thanks again to everyone!

TWvirgin Fri 26-Oct-12 17:55:54

Who is your target market? Professionals? Families? If you thought it was a pain to renovate and couldn't bother, so will they. I would be looking to move in (so repaint, new carpet) with the idea of slowly doing up the place in a couple if years (kitchen, bathroom). No leaks (like extra holes), and definitely would run if survey showed something was wrong with fuse box for an 80s build. That's what I would expect with a character Victorian conversion, not a fairly recent build. It would also make me think the property wasn't looked after. Like the ahem older boiler you haven't regularly serviced grin. That's just my opinion though wink

indiegrrl Fri 26-Oct-12 18:33:28

We found the estate agent gave very good advice on this. Bear in mind that, if you are around, you can get some of the safety stuff done between an offer being made and the survey - but I would totally echo what others have said: prioritise that. We sold in 6 days with an old IKEA kitchen and a dated bathroom. EA said don't bother touching them, whoever gets it will want to put their own mark on it. The main thing, he said, is make it stand out on the pics on rightmove and for first impressions. So we just decluttered, touched up the paintwork where it had become chipped around a couple of areas of hard use - e.g. hall - and cleaned everything til it shone, and placed some plants outside our minging, paint-peeling front door. This actually took 5 days and we are clean and pretty minimalist. The result was stunning on the photos and I'm really glad we had an offer so quickly cos I totally relate to other threads where people say you just can't live like that all the time. I certainly couldn't, but you won't be there, right, so you can make it really nice and clean.

Our house really needed repainting on the exterior, but I left a handout for viewers (the EA showed them around) stating that we would happily get the exterior painted, weather permitting, before sale if the buyers wanted that. I also pointed out on the handout a few things we had done, and a few things that could be done, but the basic message I tried to give as: this house might be a bit old and battered, but it is safe, has a great boiler and safe fusing. And I think in the end serious buyers will take that. The ones we went with did, and so we have, but most of the others who made offers weren't bothered (we went with FTBs who were prob a bit more anxious than more experienced buyers, but they were ready to go and seemed - seem! we haven't completed yet! - like a safe bet). Good luck but honestly, cleanliness and safety do go a very long way.

indiegrrl Fri 26-Oct-12 18:34:14

Sorry the end of that was garbled - I meant the FTBs wanted us to paint the exterior so we did do that.

MurderOfProse Fri 26-Oct-12 19:42:23

TWvirgin - The target market is professionals or families really at this size and this location, although we are right next to one of the few outstanding primaries over a wide area, and it is massively oversubscribed.

There is nothing wrong with the fusebox, it's just what it is - fitted in the 80s and not upgraded. It's perfectly functional. The boiler has been pretty regularly serviced, we just haven't done it this year (we get it done around autumn time) as we've not needed central heating yet. And there are no leaks, the hole is on one side of the sink at the top where the join is - it's a cosmetic issue or we'd have long since sorted it.

We were never intending on staying long and as everything works, there was little point in upgrading it just to leave it behind. We then got trapped into negative equity so all our savings went into overpaying the mortgage so we could move asap, rather than on major upgrades. As has been mentioned, everything else is in reasonable order, at worst with minor fixable cosmetic damage which obviously we'll fix before putting it on the market.

indiegrrl - Yes, I think we'll probably have to bite the bullet on the electrical survey, even though it is more than we were expecting! I do think we're doing the right thing in leaving the kitchen and the bathroom as is and reflecting that in the price. As you say we won't be living here (aside from a few ready beds for nights over when doing the place up at weekends) which makes things a million times easier. Part of the reason we decided to use rental as a stop gap actually, because we knew it would be near on impossible to sell the place with everything and everyone in it messing it back up again in ten seconds! With three DC five and under, most evenings and weekends we're just working on getting the place back to a reasonable level of tidyness and cleanliness before even starting on the bigger projects, which is part of the reason we've been doing the bare minimum for the last few years. Survival mode wink, although I do wish we'd had the foresight to do some of the stuff before the children came along!

That's a really nice idea about a handout for viewers. We have done quite a bit of stuff, already spent a few K on a load of exterior work, and having it pointed out can only help with impressions. Especially if we have got recent safety certificates. Our boiler might be old, but all the engineers have always said it's a great old reliable model and it should run and run and they're right. In the eight years we've been here it's never had a thing wrong with it (touch wood!) By contrast my mum has a new boiler and has had nothing but trouble with it and spent a fortune.

Thanks, both of you!!

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