What should I do to be ready to go on the market

One of the most often asked question from people thinking of selling is
“what should I do to be ready to go on the market”.


Probably the first and most important answer is to select which estate agent you wish to use, as early as possible.  That will involve finding the agent with the right relevant experience and knowledge of the market and someone you feel you can trust and with whom you will be comfortable to work.  


Once you have the right agent appointed there are probably 3 important areas of focus.  First is presentation of the property itself.  The old adage of “first impression is last impression” rings true in this case.  Very often a property can be all in generally good order, but one or two obvious issues, however minor, can put off a buyer, if they are the first things they see.  To this end, the outside is often more important than the inside and simple things such as keeping the gardens tidy and under control, including lawns mown and the weeding attended to, can be as vital as anything.  Also, any obvious areas of maintenance, such as paint work are most important.  On the other hand, major alterations such as new kitchens and bathrooms are very rarely worthwhile, as taste is entirely personal and in many cases buyers quite look forward to the opportunity of putting their own mark on a property.


The second area of focus is to allow your estate agent to put all the necessary preparations in hand in plenty of time.  One of the most important parts of this is getting the photographs taken at the right time of year, dependent on when the gardens and the surrounding countryside might look at their best. These photos can then be held, pending a decision to sell at any time of year. In the era of website searching and quick decisions, good quality photography is vital as it is almost invariably the first impression a buyer will make of the property.  In addition to photographs, the agent can get details and floor plans prepared and the seller will have plenty of time to check and approve, so that all parties are happy with the presentation once the time comes for marketing. 


One of the most frustrating parts of the house selling process is the time taken between agreeing a sale and achieving an exchange of contracts.  This can be minimised by some early preparation.  At an early stage decide upon and appoint the solicitor who will handle the conveyancing for you.  This allows them time to ensure any paperwork that they require can be put in order and also for your appointed estate agent to make contact with the solicitor to ensure that they are cooperating together and that the agent can be informed of any matters which should be brought to the attention of potential buyers at an early stage.  There are a number of issues which frequently arise between the buyers and sellers solicitors, some of which can be prepared for early, such as ensuring that relevant planning permissions. Listed Building consents and building regulations approval are in order and the paperwork to hand.  If you have a private drainage system, get the septic tank emptied so that it can be readily inspected if necessary, ensure that the boiler has been recently serviced and if you have private water supply, get a water quality test done, as these are all questions that will undoubtedly come up during the sale process.


Finally, be “up front” about any known problems with the property, so that they can be discussed with potential purchasers at an early stage, rather than causing delays later.  If your property clearly needs renovating or modernising, it may well be worth talking to a local builder and asking them if they would be prepared to talk to potential purchasers and or, if the thatch is nearing the end of its life, it is worth getting a quote from a local thatcher which can be shown to potential purchasers.


Usually the prime time of year for selling country property is during the Spring and early Summer and often the market is at its strongest in the early part of that season, purely for reasons of supply and demand.  Therefore, if you are considering selling during the Spring, our strong advice would be to call out your estate agent in the preceding autumn, to give yourself time to put these sort of preparations in hand in order to ultimately maximise the sale price you achieve for your property.