The Secret Life of an Estate Agent – Buyer Beware!

Have you heard the one about the Estate Agent and the ‘indecent seller’? No? Then sit back, get comfortable and prepare to be amused and shocked in equal measure…

So, we’ve been instructed to sell a house and, as always, are keen to do the job to more than the best of our ability. That means even before the house is ‘officially’ on the market, we’re ringing around potentially interested buyers and letting them know about the property. Fist pumps hit the air as THREE expressions of interest are shown and we grin at each other, happy in the knowledge that the house is suitably stunning and priced well.

The seller, of course, is equally happy (and impressed) that less than 24 hours after instruction we have a number of viewings keen to be made and we agree a mutually agreeable date for the first one in two days time. Seller happy, agent happy. What could be more perfect?

Fast forward 48 hours and I don my smartest suit, read up again on the property and its features and make my way to the address at the other side of town. I park my car on the street just down from the property, leaving space for the viewers and notice, with a slight unease, that the downstairs curtains are half closed. However I don’t have time to worry any longer as I notice the potential buyers pull up and I get out to meet them on the pavement. A young couple who are wanting to buy their first home. They seem really lovely if not a little quiet and reserved as I tell them about the area and the outside of the property. Walking up to the front door I think again how odd it is that the curtains are half closed in the middle of the afternoon before quickly shaking the unease; the sunlight is unusually bright today and the curtains are probably shielding this.

I knock on the door and wait. No one answers. I knock again. Apologising profusely to the couple I realise our seller must have forgotten about the viewing (as many with busy lives quite easily do), take out my keys and let myself in (we have been instructed to carry out viewings by ourselves if need be). The couple, as I expected, love the property. They love its homeliness and layout. They love the large dining kitchen and clean lines. The viewing quite literally couldn’t be going any better. In fact it could. I smile to myself as I lead them to the bottom of the stairs and realise they have yet to see the piece de resistance – the master bedroom with ensuite and free standing bath. We make our way upstairs and I make my big announcement with a flourish: ‘And here it is…’ I exclaim as I push open the door into the bedroom. And there it is. Yes there it is. Mr ‘B’ (we shall call him this to save his blushes), laid on top of his bedclothes, mouth wide open catching flies. The couple turn bright crimson and mumble something about ‘huge showerhead’ as I cough a quiet apology. For not only has Mr B forgotten about our viewing, he has also seemingly forgotten about wearing any clothes, and his body, in all its 70 year old glory, is resplendent for all to see. I cough again, hoping to wake him and bring an end to this awkward situation, but instead it serves to simply disturb him slightly, enough for him to reach down and scratch himself in an area that certainly shouldn’t be in view of a twenty-something couple and an experienced (but not in this kind of situation) estate agent.

My worst viewing? Quite possibly. My most embarrassing? Definitely.

OK, so this might be one end of the scale, however, with so many houses on the market, it’s imperative that your home looks its best for buyers. How do you do this? (obviously you remember when your viewings are and cover yourself up when potential buyers are visiting!)  Follow these simple steps for selling success.

First impressions count. Think curb appeal. Scruffy gardens and peeling front door paint don’t give a good impression, in fact they will make your property look sad and uncared for. The same goes for dead foliage and overgrown grass. If you have a garden, mow the lawn and buy some cheap bedding plants for colour. Rake up any old leaves outside your front and make sure there is no litter. Buy a squigee from the £1 shop and put a bit of elbow grease into making you windows shine and gleam – there’s nothing worse than smudgy handprints!

Declutter. How can your buyer imagine your home to be theirs when they’re greeted by a lovely photo of your Uncle Ted drunk on holiday in Spain? Just before a viewing, box up all those nic naks and ‘dust catchers’ as well as personal photographs. Your home will look fresher and cleaner as well as streamlined. As a bonus your rooms will look bigger as a result.

Fresh and clean It can be daunting thinking about people ‘judging’ your home but you can keep on top of it easily. As soon as your property goes on the market, do a deep clean. This may take a whole day (or more depending on the state of your house!) but will then be easily kept on top of as and when viewings arrive. Also, forget the old tale of filling the house with baking smells before your viewings (unless you’re Mrs Beeton…) The best smell is fresh air; open your windows and let the fresh air in (but manage the temperature in your house – no one wants to live in an igloo)

DIY. Make like Bob the Builder and finish all those pesky little DIY jobs before you commence any viewings. The mismatching door handles you’ve lived with for the last five years? The kitchen cupboard that’s not closed properly since you slammed it shut in a ‘cooking disaster’ rage last year? Not a problem for you but be sure your potential buyers will notice them. Add these little jobs together and suddenly you create the impression of an unloved and uncared for house.

Staging. Last but not least, make your home look nice! A few fresh flowers, some ironed bedding (yes, even if your bedding has never seen an iron in its life!) and plumped cushions will all help make your house look lovely and inviting.

If you follow the above steps you will ensure your house looks well cared for and (easily and cheaply) maximise your home’s potential