You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2011.

Reluctant to spend money on fixing up your property?

Time to DIY?

If you are fed up with waiting for the man in your house to fix the dripping tap, or put up those lovely new pictures, why not DIY?!

Kerrie Hanafin MD of ‘A Woman’s Touch’ a building company that employs mainly women, has produced a fantastic new ‘Haynes’ manual “Women’s Home DIY”

Containing the occasional ‘man’ joke and written in a chatty, modern, style there are clear step by step instructions, photos and a difficulty rating for each project.

Available from Amazon at just £16.99, it has had great reviews so far and could just get you started in a whole new career 😉


If you need advice on styling, selling or buying property and would like to discuss working with me … my main website can be found at Contact can be made through this wordpress site, by email or by calling 07789 488446.

Should be easy to find an estate agent shouldn’t it, after all there are a dozen on the high street; they are in the property paper and they are always putting flyers through your door telling you they have a buyer for your home… just call this number for a free valuation.  So yes, it is easy to find an estate agent, but, the right one for you, that may be a different matter.

I have heard it all, from the potential vendors point of view, ‘‘you all do the same thing, so long as you put it on Rightmove I will be ok’’. ‘‘I chose them because I found one through them’’.  ‘‘I bought from them, so just as easy to sell through them’’ – Don’t get me wrong these are all valid reasons.  However, I believe people should put a little more effort in before they even invite the ‘valuer’ through their door, after all this is probably your biggest asset.

Not all agents are the same, just as not all clients are the same; it is potentially a very stressful experience selling your home.  You need to trust and have faith in your agent so; may I suggest some ground work? Don’t just pick three at random, put the groundwork in then invite round three agents from the firms that seem to most closely match your needs.

  1. Mystery Shop. Register with all the agents as a buyer, by phone or in person. How are you treated, were you made welcome, did you feel comfortable with the person, did they take your details? Were they knowledgeable? Did they ask if you would like to make a viewing? What are the details like, floorplans, lots of colour pictures? Or, are the details single sided toilet paper, were you bombarded with attempts to get appointments to see the mortgage advisor, book a valuation? Basically, did you feel you were treated as a person or as a target? How you are treated is how your potential buyers will be treated, don’t forget we buy from people we like!
  2. Email in requesting details. Do you get a response? If you do, how long did it   take?
  3. Check the websites and press.  Do you like their ads, good pictures, wording? Try and choose an agent who appears to mainly deal in properties like yours, no point putting a £150,000 property with an agent who mainly deals in manor houses, and vice versa. If you choose a matching agent they are more likely to have existing clients on their books looking for a home like yours.
  4. Talk to people, ask about their experiences.  Would they use an agent again, did they feel they communicated, whilst you are at it ask about solicitors, you pay them a lot to you know.

Now invite your chosen three round…

  1. If they ask you for your thoughts on value before giving their own, say you invited them round for their opinion, it is ok to discuss it after they have committed.
  2. Have they brought comparables and evidence, are they relevant to your home? Or, have they just dragged out a big sales file telling you all about their great services and how fabulous they are? It is ok to be proud of your firm and yourself (I am) but I would rather see genuine thank you letters than a pre-printed mission statement.
  3. Do you feel comfortable with the person, are they knowledgeable, do they ask about you, your reasons for moving, do they listen or is it one big sales pitch! When they leave are you relaxed and more informed or are you just glad to see the back of them?
  4. Ask about their terms and conditions, including fee, fixed or percentage, agency period, dis-instruction period, how much for an epc. People always seem to worry about the fee, then sign up to a 20 week contract; this can be a much more costly mistake.
  5. Meet with all three agents before making a decision, don’t forget if they persuade you to sign up on the day you have a 7 day cooling off period (check their T’s & C’s) Make your decision after weighing up all the pro’s and con’s, sometimes the most expensive agent is the one for you, and sometimes the cheapest one may be, or even the one in-between, but, if you have done your homework hopefully you have found one to trust and that is far more important!

There is far more I could say about the actual valuation/appraisal itself, but, I will save that for another day.

Estate Agent Dad

Huge thanks to Mark for taking the time to write this article and share his knowledge and insight.  You can follow him daily on Twitter @EstateAgentDad

(images from idea go’s & jscreationzs /

If you need advice on styling, selling or buying property and would like to discuss working with me … my main website can be found at Contact can be made through this wordpress site, by email or by calling 07789 488446.

Thinking of buying (or selling) a property in Devon?

Yesterday, I was on another of my frequent trips to Exeter and picked up a copy of a new publication ‘Devon Homes and Living’. May 2011 £1.50

Naturally it’s full of houses for sale (who’d have thought?!) and whilst you’ll have probably seen most of featured properties on the web, it does contain quite a few interesting articles.

Days out in Devon, a brief description of the local areas and a smattering of  interiors/gardening news are interspersed with the obligitory adverts but of course this month, as featured on the cover, there’s also a double page spread on Kirsty and her Devon homes including ‘Meadowgate’ (available to rent for upwards of £2000 pw!).

I’m not sure I’ll be buying the publication every month but, if you are into property I can highly recommend curling up in a quiet sunny corner, with a cup of tea and a biscuit, whilst leafing through this property paper.

If you need advice on styling, selling or buying property and would like to discuss working with me … my main website can be found at Contact can be made through this wordpress site, by email or by calling 07789 488446.

Spring Clean!

So you’ve decided to put the house on the market – (or you may even be considering letting) you’ve thought about which Agents you’ll get to value and you are itching to get the For Sale sign up.  BUT WAIT… Want to know what the number one turn-off is that could scupper a decent valuation and a quick sale?…..


You know what I mean – you’ve seen it yourself when you’ve been viewing properties.  And probably rushed out with lots of excuses as soon as you could…

  • Grease in the kitchen, up the tiles, over the cooker.
  • Sticky carpets that cling to your shoe and look as though they’re 30 years old and….. smell accordingly.
  • Dirty bathroom tiles with other peoples ‘skin and hair’ clinging to them, ugh… dare you lift the toilet seat?
  • Overflowing cat litter trays!
  • Sticky handprints on the wall.
  • Flithy windows you can’t see in (or out) of.
  • Dark, dusty corners and cobwebs hanging from the light fitting.

You want people to relax when they are viewing your property, imagine themselves living in it – not feel desperate to leave in case they catch something or rush home to jump in the shower!  Unless your house IS a show home (and there are some people out there), would it receive a gold star of approval when viewed through the critical eyes of a viewer? – think about it.  Would you really want your agent to have to apologise for the ‘state’ of your home everytime they conducted a viewing?

As time becomes a scarce resource for many, it’s easy to let dust and grime build up. When was the last time you wiped down your skirting boards or cleaned around your light switches? (Please don’t come and look at mine!)

That’s why having a thorough clean BEFORE your Estate Agent and your first viewers arrive is SO important.  You might already have a cleaner, but they’re just ‘keeping on top’ of the dusting and vacuuming.

What you really need is a whole weekend devoted to Spring Cleaning tackling the cobwebs, removing grease from inside and outside of those cupboards and freshening up the bathroom.

Wiping down the paintwork can be as effective as redecorating but without the mess!

Better still, why not employ a team to deep clean your property whilst you’re at work and come back to what looks like a new home?

You’ll be impressed and so will your potential buyers!

If you need advice on styling, selling or buying property and would like to discuss working with me … my main website can be found at Contact can be made through this wordpress site, by email or by calling 07789 488446.

A couple of years ago, a colleague and I were approached to put together a package for styling newly refurbished student houses.  The Landlords had come to realise that upping the presentation of their properties scored major points with their target market.  Their houses stood out from the others available to rent and, enabled them to achieve a faster Let and demand higher fees.

We worked in 3 or 4 university cities on probably about 35-40 houses.  Whilst each area had major differences, all the properties we styled were very similar.  By viewing the company’s previous rentals we had a good idea of the look they wanted and by viewing competitors accommodation, in the same location, we also got a good idea of what they didn’t want!

Involved from (almost) the beginning, when walls were coming down and extensions were being built, the colour schemes, along with kitchens, bathrooms, appliances and flooring had already been chosen.  Our task, was to complete the furnishing of the student houses with furniture, artwork, accessories etc and successfully style them, within a very limited budget.

We worked with suppliers we knew and trusted to provide the bulk of the furniture; beds, sofas and blinds but our buying skills were tested to the limit as we tracked down decorative items and hunted out bargains.  Budgets only became available when the houses where nearing completion and often with less than a fortnight’s notice!

The hours were long, the work was stressful, the deadlines were tight.  More often than not we’d turn up with cars and vans packed to the gunnels only to find builders ‘finishing off’ and paint-work still drying.  Once I turned up on site at 6am to find a house full of snoozing carpet fitters (who’d worked late into the night) sleeping off their celebratory hangovers.  The end result though, more than made up for the inconvenience … well that and being able to indulge my passion for shopping with someone else’s money… even if I was on a bargain hunt.  Seeing the total transformation from grotty terrace to stylish student pad always made the job worthwhile.

Of course just improving the property presentation doesn’t necessarily guarantee a Let; good marketing, a proactive agent and creating a buzz, definitely helps too.  Once we’d installed, styled, itemized and taken marketing shots for the first house in each area, an Open day was held.  Nicely furnished, well equipped, clean and contemporary our houses were not only a hit with the students but the parents too!  Mums and Dads noticeably perked up when they walked through the front door – yes there was a premium to pay, more than 20% in some cases – but they’d rather their son or daughter live there than the dirty net-curtain clad property next door.

Our ’employers’ had researched their market, called in the professionals and offered something different.

Their houses were  cleaner, brighter and more stylish than many others on the Letting agents books –

They soon had something else too…. a ‘waiting list‘ of eager tenants!

If you need advice on styling, selling or buying property and would like to discuss working with me … my main website can be found at Contact can be made through this wordpress site, by email or by calling 07789 488446.

A ‘how to’ guide for conducting successful viewings.  This was an article I wrote for Sarah Beeny’s property website Tepilo in 2010.

When selling their homes my clients benefit hugely from advice given for their own individual circumstances and properties but the general advice given in this article can help clinch that sale!

Show Time

Posted: on, Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Supposing all your hard work has paid off and after you’ve tidied up a bit, taken some good photos and advertised your property, you suddenly get asked if a potential buyer can come and view your home.

If you’re not going down the conventional Estate Agent route, selling your property and achieving the best price, is now all down to you!

Unless confident that you’re fully prepared and left the place looking spotless before rushing out to work, avoid the temptation to agree viewings on the spur of the moment.

Before you show anyone around, spend a little time deciding which rooms to start with. Think about the last time you viewed a property and plan a route that gives buyers the very best impression of your home. Just because the downstairs loo is right by the front door, doesn’t mean it should be the room you take buyers into first! Equally, if you have more than 2 floors, is it really a good idea to take them to a room on the top floor last?

For some, the ‘show round’ can be a nerve racking nightmare; Where do I start? Will they like it? What do I say? What if they offer? Much is common sense but the emotional attachment you have with your home is often hard to put aside

To conduct a ‘perfect’ viewing, I find that many of my clients need advice on individual aspects of their property. However, the following guidelines can apply to every viewing and might just help you clinch that sale!

1. Its all in the planning;

Plan your route. Practise on family or friends if necessary; avoid having to ‘double back’ all the time.

2. Welcome your guests;

Don’t make the buyer feel like an intruder, let them view your property in a relaxed and unhurried manner.

3. Turn up the heat;

Check the temperature. Don’t worry about the utility bills now, if you need to wear a jumper – its too cold!

4. Not seen not heard;

Get rid of the kids, pets, lodgers and any other family members, your property will seem more spacious and you can give the buyers undivided attention.

5. Light and bright;

Turn on side lamps for warmth and atmosphere, take down the nets, pull up the blinds (unless there’s an unsightly view!) and let the light flood in.

6. Let them linger;

Offer tea or coffee, relax with a chat, the longer they linger the more ‘at home’ they will feel.

And finally, Engage with the buyer by all means but steer clear of the hard sell!

By Helen Silver from The Property Styling Company

Follow Helen on Twitter: @propertystyling


Whilst Estate Agents are experts in selling property and closing the deal, many are not ‘design savvy’.  That’s not to say they don’t know what factors help sell a property but it can be difficult to get a property into the best-selling condition, in a timely manner, without some sort of professional assistance.  Preparing a property for sale before you go on the market, before you even enlist your agent, gives your property the edge.  Estate Agents are the same as the rest of us.  If they call to value before a property is ready and consider it will be a ‘hard sell’ – the overall valuation is likely to be lower.  Property Styling works to achieve the best-selling conditions to effectively promote a property in the marketplace.  You wouldn’t sell a car without giving it a good clean and polish would you? So why advertise your property without sprucing it up a bit first?

Know your market.  If it’s a buyers market, you really need to pull out all the stops to sell for a decent price and to motivate the buyer to make an offer.  If a buyer’s afraid that someone will jump in and buy their ‘dream home’ they will take action but if there’s no real incentive to buy, they’ll continuing viewing lots of other properties, possibly waiting for the prices to drop.

In a seller’s market, Property Styling can help you achieve a quick sale and potentially achieve a higher price than you were asking!

Whatever market you are in, it’s pays to do something.  You are marketing your biggest asset, launching a new product if you like; putting it out there for all to see.  It’s always wise to style but the key to Property Styling is appealing to the largest audience … that’s what it’s really all about!

One of the most beautiful houses in Bath is up for sale through Savills and receiving a huge amount of local publicity.  Set in 9 acres of secluded grounds, Widcombe Manor is an historic albeit ‘mini’ stately home.

Perfectly intact Georgian architectural features, with elegant, well proportioned rooms, the property also boasts, a wine cellar, croquet lawn, tennis court, infintity pool, pavillion, summerhouse, 2 storey cottage and incredible views.

It only has 6 bedrooms; although three of these are suites on the 1st floor, with the remaining bedrooms and bathrooms on the 2nd; ideal for those who require space for living/entertaining but would like to preserve something of a ‘family atmosphere’.

The downside for me? …… Well aside from the in “excess of £10million” price tag, the property details (now removed from the property portals) are very lacklustre and the photos unfortunately don’t appear to showcase the interior spaciousness and charm.  Then again I don’t suppose those with + £10m to spend will be searching for properties on Rightmove along with the rest of us!

What is Property Styling?

Home Staging, Property Styling, Property Staging, House Fluffing, Property Presentation…

These are all popular descriptions used for explaining the practise of preparing a property (and its contents) for a faster sale or let, with the sole purpose of achieving the highest price and appealing to the widest possible audience.

However, professional Property Styling is much more than just ‘painting it all white and clearing out the clutter!’

Styling a property for sale ensures that the presentation of the property is the best it can be.   This might simply mean rearranging what you already have or, it could involve bringing in new furniture, accessories and artwork.  Professional Stylists work with the ‘flow’ of a property which normally entails things of an aesthetic nature; overall appearance, clutter, design, colour, as opposed to major structural improvements.

The goal of Property Styling is to improve the property’s appearance in the eyes of a potential buyer.  Typically a buyer has made up their mind whether to buy, within 10 seconds of walking through the door, forming an opinion as they pulled up outside – that doesn’t leave much time for error!

To achieve the desired outcome, a property should be presented at its best right from the start.  Each viewing should lead to a probable offer. If it doesn’t, it’s a wasted viewing and another likely buyer lost.

If your property looks fantastic, buyers can immediately imagine living there and are more prone to making an offer – Most buyers can’t figure out how their furniture might look in an empty property or see past unattractive and disorganized spaces; people buy with emotion but shop with logic!

It’s quite difficult to convince some people that making the most of what tends to be their biggest asset, is sound financial sense.  Often I hear “Why can’t everyone just like my house for what it is? Why do I need to update things? I don’t want to spend money on a place when I’m leaving it!”

A well presented property is much more likely to achieve a quicker sale at the best market price.  Cleaned (very important!), de-cluttered, de-personalised and styled for sale, your property will immediately jump out from the crowd.  And, an attractive property will get much more attention from your Estate Agent!

1 in 10 viewers just can’t visualise how a property could look when surrounded by all your ‘bits and pieces’.  How many times have you heard friends comment on the furniture they saw in a property rather than on the property itself?  If you are selling, do yourself a favour, at the very least tidy up.

Interestingly, here in the UK, more of us spend time cleaning and polishing our (much less valuable) cars for sale than we do our properties! 

If you need advice on styling, selling or buying property and would like to discuss working with me … my main website can be found at Contact can be made through this wordpress site, by email or by calling 07789 488446.

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