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How to Prepare Your Home to Sell Online

Updated on August 3, 2018
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Paola Bassanese is an author and freelance writer. When she put her flat on the market, she discovered that selling is hard work.

Preparing Your Home To Sell

As a first time seller, there is so much to learn about selling your first home. As a first time buyer, you experienced how stressful the house buying process can be. When you become the vendor, expect the difficulties to exceed your expectations. Being prepared and putting in some time and effort in preparing your property to sell can save you a lot of money in the long term. This is particularly important if you are selling a small flat, because smaller flats don’t sell as fast as larger ones. Use colour and accessories wisely to give the impression of space and impress the buyers by keeping everything neat and tidy.

For Sale


Before you list your home for sale, take the opportunity to do a ruthless cull of everything you no longer need and that takes up too much space. Discard, recycle or take items to a local charity shop

If you have enough cupboards and wardrobes, start packing as much as possible and store boxes away from sight. If that is not possible, ask a friend to keep some of your boxes while you are selling your property, or rent a storage unit.

Be ruthless with your furniture, too. If you have too many chairs, tables, sofas taking up floor space, consider taking some of them out and put them into storage or sell them. It is far more pleasing to the eye to see a lot of floor space, which in turn makes a good impression with buyers.

If you are selling a small flat, keep everything as tidy and clean as possible, keeping the surfaces free from unnecessary ornaments. Walk through each room: are you bumping into the furniture? Try and re-arrange it in a different position.

Interior Design


If you have watched enough TV programmes on interior design and decorating, you will know that neither a dull colour scheme nor an excessive one help sell houses.

Beware of fashionable colours from magazines: they are there to help build a story, but trendy colours may put off some buyers. While a neutral colour scheme is a safe bet, you can still inject a bit of colour with accessories. Magnolia is out, light grey is in. If you can, look at what other houses that are currently on the market have done. What colours have they painted the walls? What colour do you find more appealing? It helps to think like a buyer when you redecorate your property.

You can choose slightly different colours in each room as long as they are not dark and ensuring that each colour goes well with the next. For example, a light blue and a light green can go well going from one room to the next. Jarring colour combination will irritate potential buyers. Think about the best hotel room you have stayed in, especially when it comes to the bathroom. Create a spa atmosphere in the bathroom: put some candles and flowers on the shelves, and roll up some fluffy towels.

If you can’t upgrade your sofa, use a throw and some cushions to add a bit of colour and texture. Soft furnishings can really make a difference in making a room more inviting and more appealing to the eye.

Look at all the rooms and decide where to put extra mirrors to create a sense of space. Place fresh flowers and plants for a touch of colour and to make each room more welcoming.

Hang some interesting art on the wall – you can borrow it if you don’t want to invest in paintings or pictures. Landscapes work well, as they give the impression of extra space.

Take pictures and carefully study the overall effect. Potential buyers will look at pictures first before deciding to book an appointment to view the property.

A Spa-Like Bathroom

Action Plan

Create an action plan for each room as you prepare you property to sell and tick off items as you complete them. It will make the process much easier.

  • In the bedroom make sure there are no clothes scattered on chairs and only keep a few items on display like books.
  • In the bathroom have new towels, keep toiletries in cabinets and buy a new shower curtain.
  • In the kitchen clean all surfaces and keep them as clear of gadgets and ornaments as possible. The more surface buyers see the more they can see how spacious the kitchen is. Never leave the dishes out, even if they are clean. Put them away, to show that there is enough storage on the counters.
  • In the living room only keep few items to display like an elegant coffee table book. Select only a few books to keep on shelves leaving some empty space.
  • In the entrance hall keep all the clutter away, especially shoes, in a cabinet if you have it. Don’t hang too many coats on the wall, but put them away.

Check what repairs you need to do in each room. If buyers spot that something needs repairing, they will try to haggle on the price.

Clean all the windows to let in as much natural light as possible. Also check the communal areas if you live in a block of flats and make sure all the external windows are clean and that everything is working properly, especially the intercom.


A cluttered home makes buyers panic, as they think there’s not enough space for their possessions. However, if you de-personalise your home too much, it will end up looking like student accommodation or a faceless low quality hotel room. Invite friends for coffee and ask them for feedback: does your place make them feel at home? Is there anything they would change? Also ask a few estate agents for their opinion on your colour scheme and on the way you have arranged the furniture. They may have some tips on how to make your property look better and more appealing to potential buyers.

As long as your property is well looked after and you talk enthusiastically about it with buyers during viewings, the process of selling it should be fairly straightforward.

Next Step: The Listing

There are a few golden rules about writing the description of your property. The listing description can’t be too short or too long, however you are better off it being relatively short and packed with bullet points. Some “enlightened” estate agents feature a quote from the vendor in the listing: for example, something like ‘I lived in this property for 10 years and I have enjoyed the feeling of coming back home from work and relax. The flat is bright and welcoming.’ Some buyers may not even notice it but many will appreciate that extra touch and will refer to it during the viewing.

You may want to make your buyer’s life easier by listing the current running costs for the property: this is not common practice (a quick search of listings will prove that), however it can make your listing stand out.

If you are selling your home for the very first time, you are putting on the market a property that is likely to attract two types of buyers (see section on types of buyers later for more information): first time buyers and investors. It is important to cater for both categories. Regarding investors, your listing should include, among other things, the potential rental yield of the property. You can ask your estate agent to give you an estimate on the going rent for similar properties in your area or you can look it up online. There might even be a flat in your block being advertised as being available to rent. You can ask your neighbours how easy it is to find tenants and what type of people the tenants are (single people, couples, single parents, small families) – this is all information that is like gold dust when you talk to an investor. Even if you decide not to be present at viewings yourself and delegate the task to your agent, motivated buyers will request a second viewing and may ask to meet you in person. Buyers prefer to speak to the vendor because they want to ask additional questions about the property without the pressure from a professional salesperson.

Depending on the type of property you are selling, i.e., a house or a flat, make sure you give useful information. If you live in a flat, the listing should include which floor your flat is in the block, if there is a communal garden and parking space. Useful information should also include nearby facilities and places of interest like train stations, supermarkets and green spaces.

What To Include In a Listing

Are you selling the flat fully furnished? Are you leaving all the appliances behind? Add that to your listing and make sure you tell the buyers during viewings. Both first time buyers and investors will appreciate not having to buy appliances (and waiting for them to be delivered and installed).

The most important part of your listing is the preview text that accompanies the preview picture (main picture). The description should capture a buyer’s attention by highlighting the best aspects of your property: location, size, quality of finishes.

A way to make your property more appealing to buyers and more likely to be sold earlier than others is to offer it vacant on completion: you can either move temporarily into rented accommodation after selling your home, or stay with friends or relatives while you are looking for your new home. If you are selling chain-free you are giving an incentive to buyers, who may be concerned about delays.

A chain-free property is going to be more attractive than one in a chain. You may want to use this expedient again further down the line as you move up the property ladder: if, for example, it might take a further six months for your buyers to sell their property before they can buy yours. Would you be able (or could you afford) to wait almost a year to complete on your flat?

Beautiful Pictures Sell Houses

An attractive layout is pleasing to the eye
An attractive layout is pleasing to the eye
Details are important: make your home unique and inviting so it looks good in pictures
Details are important: make your home unique and inviting so it looks good in pictures

Online Pictures

Think about the online pictures of your property as virtual real estate: the pictures will do the talking for you and buyers make decisions on whether to view your property in a matter of seconds.

Your estate agent will take a number of pictures during the valuation or a few days afterwards. You know your property better than anyone else so you are in charge of presenting your flat in the best way possible and offer suggestions.

Ask to see the pictures in the camera viewer before the agent leaves and ask to delete or retake pictures that don’t look satisfactory.

Move furniture if necessary, open or close doors depending on the shot. This is particularly important if you are selling a studio flat: if, for example, you are using the same folding table both as a dining table and as a desk, have the photographer take two pictures. Set up the table as a dining table with plates and a nice tablecloth or runner for one picture, then dress the table as a working desk with your computer and accessories like a diary or notepad. When viewers come in, explain to them that they can use the space for different functions, so that they can appreciate that even small spaces can be functional.

If you only do one thing during the photo-shoot, please close the lid of the WC. Many property listings have pictures of toilets in full view and they are not pleasing to see.

  • Don’t forget to put away all your crockery left next to the sink after washing.
  • Remember to add fresh flowers and plants, ideally in every room.
  • Plump all the pillows and straighten out pictures on the walls.


  • Speak to your estate agent and agree on what to include and exclude in the listing.
  • Make a list of desirable features of your property that will appeal to buyers.
  • Give buyers a bit of background about how much you have enjoyed living in your property by highlighting what you love about your home.

© 2017 Paola Bassanese


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