First impressions always count

by Ian Fergusson

There are many practical measures that home sellers can take immediately that will not only boost the appeal of their property to potential buyers, but also improve the value of their home, together with their prospects for attracting offers at the price level sought.

Underpinning all these measures is an understanding that first impressions always count. To that end, home owners should seek to ensure that their properties are as well presented for the inspection of a chartered surveyor and estate agent as they would be to a prospective purchaser.

Attention to detail in the lead up to an inspection by a surveyor will help the marketability of a property and have a material influence on the findings of a Home Report which could increase the value placed on the property and result, ultimately, in an improved sale price.

A property’s marketability will be assisted by ensuring that homeowners reduce the number of Code 2 or Code 3s within a Home Report. They can do that be seeking to undertake any repair and maintenance items that would invariably be itemised by a surveyor in a Home Report survey.

Common items include roof coverings, chimneys, rainwater fittings and pointing; the condition of stonework in older properties will always be inspected by a surveyor.

Consequently, homeowners might be advised to have the roof of their home inspected, clean their gutters, secure or replace any loose slates and address any need for any external paint work or re-pointing repairs (particularly in the wake of a harsh winter) prior to arranging a visit from a surveyor to produce a Home Report, and where possible provide reports and associated receipts for all work undertaken to the inspecting surveyor.

Given the importance of first impressions, it is worth ensuring that any garden areas are well presented and that any garden fences and boundary walls are in a good state of repair.

Moving inside the house, if damp or woodworm is suspected, it might well be worth arranging for a timber specialist to carry out an inspection and treat any areas of concern prior to commissioning a Home Report. And homeowners should remember to retain any certificates and guarantees pertaining to treatment undertaken in their home and make these available for inspection by the surveyor conducting the Home Report.

Waiting until after the Home Report has been produced before undertaking any such repairs will have a direct impact on the value that a surveyor will place on a home.

Should a home have an old and inefficient central heating boiler, then, if the owner is considering moving within the next couple of years, it might be worth investing in a new boiler, not only to reduce energy consumption costs and CO2 emissions, but also to potentially increase the value of the home by giving the property a higher band rating for the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) aspect of the Home Report.

The ability to demonstrate lower energy running costs is becoming increasingly attractive to potential buyers, particularly against a background of rising fuel bills.

It’s worth bearing in mind that such items should not necessarily require action in the month leading up to a Home Report. Rather, homeowners planning to make a move next year should start planning now and perhaps set in motion a programme of repairs and upgrading over a 12 month period and allocate a monthly budget for it rather than wait until the property is surveyed and the Home Report highlights any repairs required that might dissuade potential buyers from submitting an offer.

They should also ensure that they have consents for any alterations or modifications, such as garage conversions or conservatories, readily available for inspection by the surveyor.

Whilst many homeowners will be aware of any defects in their home, such as leaky roofs, rotting window frames or damp patches, which will invariably be highlighted by a surveyor in a Home Report, and can take steps now to address such issues, they may well wish to consult their local chartered surveyor of choice for advice about the overall condition of their property prior to putting it on the market.

All these practical measures, if executed in a proactive and properly-budgeted method, will make it easier for homeowners to bring their property to the market; will present their property in an improved condition to the market and will, therefore, improve its marketability and saleability, raising the prospect for a quick sale (and therefore less expensive marketing costs) at a much better price to the seller than might otherwise be expected.

And remember, first impressions always count!

Ian Fergusson is Managing Partner at J&E Shepherd, one of Scotland’s leading firms of Chartered Surveyors with offices across the UK

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