As we enter the colder winter months, the sales market continues to boom even after the ending of the stamp duty holiday.

Thanks to the success of vaccine rollout, it seems highly unlikely that there will be another lockdown this winter, which should make viewing property easier for those eager buyers looking to get in before Christmas.

But, as a seller, you shouldn’t become complacent if – like now – you’re operating in a sellers’ market with high levels of buyer demand. Homes don’t just sell themselves; they still need to be prepared in the right way to maximise their attractiveness to buyers.

Here, using our years of experience of selling homes, we outline how sellers can ensure their property stands apart from the competition.

Stage your home

You might think staging a home is merely the preserve of the wealthy elite in Prime Central London, or something developers do to drum up interest, but actually it’s something that all sellers should consider as it can have a significant impact on the final value of your home.

Staging your home effectively means making it look its absolute best for the property photographs you take and when viewers visit your home in-person. It means decluttering, depersonalising (while not making the home seem soulless and devoid of character) and giving your home and garden a thorough clean and tidy.

Giving walls a fresh lick of paint – stick to neutral colours like whites, pale blues, creams and greys for the widest appeal – and generally making your home look the part will help your cause no end. You shouldn’t ignore the garden just because it’s winter. Buyers might not be using the garden as much during the winter months, but they will still want to imagine what it could be like in spring and summer, so it pays to having it look up to scratch.

You also want to give your home that hotel-style, bespoke, good-as-new feeling, so buyers are wowed and can instantly imagine themselves living there. To do this, you need to make all the beds, set up the dining table as if you were hosting dinner, use mirrors and lights to create more space, plump up the cushions, replace any broken cupboard handles and bulbs, and think about updating taps, tiles and work surfaces if they look a little tired.

Matching towels, duvet covers, cushions and pillowcases can also give off the air of a clean, welcoming, cosy home.

You will probably want to set aside some budget for staging your home. This might be a small initial outlay but should be paid back ten times over in a higher price for your property. You can either opt to hire in a professional to stage your home for you, although this is likely to come at a cost, or do it yourself with help from instructional YouTube videos, tips articles from home stagers, or friends and family who’ve done something similar before or have an eye for what looks good and goes where in a room.

You can also call upon the help of your agent for tips on how to stage a home effectively to increase its saleability.

Typically a selling technique most associated with American real estate, it has grown in popularity in the UK in recent years and was further boosted by the pandemic, when virtual tours all of a sudden became the go-to.

There are no hard and fast guarantees that home staging will add value to your home, but in a busy marketplace it could help your home stand out to buyers who are looking for that wow factor.

Get ready for property viewings

These are far more likely to happen in person again now, and with far less of the restrictions and guidance that was in place this time last year and for much of the last 18 months.

While it’s still important for people to take sensible precautions and for everyone to feel comfortable while carrying out a property viewing, with Covid still an ever-present danger, property viewings are certainly looking a bit more normal again.

Preparation is key when it comes to a successful viewing. Get your home looking its absolute best before any visits, using some of the staging techniques mentioned above, and also strategise the would-be buyer’s journey through your home. There’s a good chance you’ll know the gold in your property – the room or feature that will really impress viewers – and you need to decide whether you show them this last or first.

Showing it to them first will give them a great first impression, while showing it to them last could send them away with a very positive feeling in their stomach.

The other alternative is to stand back and let the people viewing your home discover things for themselves, while still being on hand to answer any questions if these come up.

Whichever approach you take, whether it be you guiding them from room to room or letting them go off on their own, you should aim to be helpful but not intrusive and never clipping at their heels.

You will rightly be proud of your home and will want to shout out about how great it is, but this needs to be tempered to a degree as it could put some buyers off.

Work closely with your agent to decide if they or you will be carrying out the viewings, and then work out the best times of the day for these to take place. In the winter months, some buyers may prefer viewings to happen during the day, when it’s not pitch black, while for others evening viewings may work better around their work and childcare commitments, and they may like the extra atmosphere and cosiness that comes with a viewing at night.

The downside of a viewing at night is that buyers won’t be able to see the garden (unless there are lights to showcase this) or get as clear an impression of the front of your house as they might like. It’s said that many people decide within the first few seconds of approaching a house whether it is for them or not, which can make your property’s kerb appeal (what it looks like from the outside) hugely important.

While you should try and facilitate viewings wherever you can to increase your chances of selling fast, and also be as flexible as possible with days/timings, you shouldn’t be expected to facilitate viewings at unreasonable times (such as very early in the morning or very late at night). You may also want to limit the number of viewings you have per day to ensure it doesn’t feel like a conveyor belt of would-be buyers.

Again, work closely with your agent to ensure you get this right.

Selling this winter

The market is currently a positive one for sellers as we motor towards a new year, and many will still be keen to get in before Christmas if they can. As such, you could find that you have very motivated buyers if you list now.

But it’s still important to maximise your chances of selling by ensuring your property stands out on the property portals, your agent’s website and on viewings themselves. Home staging can certainly play a part in this, as can getting the technique right for viewings to ensure you capture the attention of prospective buyers rather than turning them away.

Clutter, loud wallpaper, luridly painted walls, a home that feels too personal and a home that isn’t tidy or clean will all have buyers looking elsewhere, so it’s vitally important that your property looks its best before you allow people to view it in person.

Here at Oakfield Estate Agents, we have witnessed first-hand how our local market has boomed and we will do all we can to help you sell your home successfully this late autumn and winter.

For more information on how we can help you to complete your sale in Eastbourne, Hastings and Bexhill, please get in touch with us today.

You can also request a free instant online valuation to see how much your East Sussex property could be worth on the current marketplace.