Anyone who has a home for sale or struggling to get viewings might perhaps check these tips, although any real estate agent worth their salt will probably have briefed you anyway.
Kerb appeal is a good starting point, as first impressions count. Potential purchasers will check if the garden – if you have one – is well maintained, and will check if the roof is missing tiles or if the guttering is hanging down, and will check to see if paths and fences are looking overgrown or uninviting. Most buyers are said to have made up their minds within the first few minutes of arriving at a property, so it might be worth checking up on how much it costs to do some simple updates to the exterior of your home to enhance its kerb appeal and value. Even a couple of plants in pots by the front door can enhance the first impression for a buyer.
Clean your patio or balcony and any outside furniture, and cut the grass if you have a lawn area. While this might not add much value to your home, it adds one more tick to the checklist and makes it more likely to sell.
Decluttering is the first step, but don’t dehumanise it – it's still a home and should look lived in, but too much clutter will divert your would-be purchaser’s attention! Hide your stuff away on viewing days, give it away or bin stuff that might distract a potential buyer. Big furniture can make your rooms look small, so consider moving stuff around to give your room a more open look, or moving out that really big armchair if it’s dominating the room.
A fresh lick of paint hides a multitude of sins, so giving your walls a fresh lick of neutral paint will make your home seem lighter and bigger and will enable the viewers to more easily imagine themselves moving in and using the rooms immediately, giving them a blank canvas for their own choices.
Make any minor repairs – holes in walls, broken door knobs, cracked tiles - and buy a tube of filler for those little cracks, and remove torn or threadbare carpets. Your buyer might want to move in without making changes, so allow for this.
They say kitchens and bathrooms sell a property, and that you should perhaps update both to enhance a sale. Personally, I feel you should consider whether you will get a good return after the expense of spending several thousand euros (not to mention the disruption!) when the first thing a new owner might do is rip everything out anyway. Clean and tidy might be enough.
Hang up fresh towels in the bathroom and eliminate any bad smells. Clean and repair tile grout, wax wooden floors – and sweep up the dead flies and dust bunnies! Make the place more appealing to allow viewers to imagine themselves living there. Clean the windows, and replace any broken light bulbs, especially if you are showing in the evening. Just make your home look pretty – blinds or curtains on naked windows make a place feel more homely, so consider buying some cheap ones if necessary. Making the place feel light and airy makes rooms feel bigger and the property more attractive, and lamps on in dark corners will help open up a room.
If it’s a cold evening, or even a chilly day, light your fire if you have one - it will make your home feel warm and inviting, and if you don’t have a fire, then at least ensure the fireplace is clean.
People sometimes find it tricky to imagine themselves living in your home, so make it easy for them to visualise the fantastic living space you have to offer, but don’t make it look like a hotel either – leave some items of your own personality on show. People are often buying into a lifestyle as much as a property.
Lastly, choose a good estate agent, and let them conduct viewings. They are the professionals and it’s their job to know what things to say, what to highlight and what to downplay.
Marilyn writes regularly for The Portugal News, and has lived in the Algarve for some years. A dog-lover, she has lived in Ireland, UK, Bermuda and the Isle of Man.