How to add charm to a vacant property

When selling your home, should you show it “as is” with all your furniture and belongings in place, or wait until it is empty so prospective buyers can see the actual size of the rooms?

“Well, strangely enough, buyers generally react better to homes that are occupied and furnished – because that helps them to visualise how they might live there themselves,” says Gerhard Kotzé, managing director (MD) of the RealNet estate agency group.

“In an empty home, they often have trouble making sense of the layout or working out whether their furniture and appliances will fit into certain spaces.

“A home that has been empty for some time could also come across as neglected and cold; and an overgrown garden, dusty floors and dirty windows are likely to add to that impression.”

He says this is exactly why developers will often go to the expense of furnishing a show unit when launching a new apartment, townhouse or cluster complex. “Even if the furniture in the show house is not what potential buyers like, it gives them a feel for what goes where, and whether the size and layout of the units would suit them.”

However, home-owners will sometimes find themselves having to sell an empty property – possibly after a tenant has moved out – so here are some helpful tips for giving it some extra appeal for prospective buyers:

. First, give the property a thorough cleaning, paying particular attention to any marks and blemishes that may previously have gone unnoticed behind furniture and curtains.

“You may also want to hire professionals to steam-clean carpets and wash all the windows in this phase, and it is never a bad idea to fill in any picture-nail scars on the walls and paint the whole interior in one very neutral shade.

“If you live elsewhere and are unable to work on your property yourself, a professional estate agent should be able to recommend reliable and well-priced contractors who can – and may even be prepared to manage the process on your behalf.”

. Secondly, says Kotzé, you need to deal with the exterior. “It’s definitely worth hiring a local gardener or garden service to keep the lawn cut and the leaves raked up while the property is empty, and particularly just before show days and weekends. If there is a pool, it should also be cleaned and maintained regularly.”

. Thirdly, you need to examine the front of the house with a critical eye to see if it also needs sprucing up.

“A loose gutter or a faded roof could cost you a sale, but fresh paint and varnish say ‘this home is ready for you’ to potential buyers.”

. Finally, he says, you should make sure that the property is aired regularly – and essentially for at least a couple of hours before your agent takes anyone to view it.

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