I’m a property expert and here's my top tips for selling your home – from vanilla trick to best day to list on market

SELLING a house can leave exasperated homeowners bricking it– but getting a deal over the line doesn’t have to be so complicated. 

Jonathan Rolande, a property valuer and former estate agent of 20 years, has lifted the lid on the do's and don'ts of selling up.


He argues that now is the perfect time to get your house ready to put on the market – and it would appear the stats agree with him.

After multiple lockdowns and working from home, more Brits than ever are on the move as we look to make the most of our living spaces.

More than 213,000 sales were registered through HMRC in June alone, which was the highest number since housing records began. 

From the alterations that could lower your property’s value to the ultimate no-nos and sneaky ways to make your home more appealing, Jonathan tells The Sun his top tips for selling up.

Stop eating fish & heat up vanilla

While you may enjoy the aromatic spices that ooze from your freshly-cooked curry or be hanging on to a bag of fish and chips for a leftovers dinner, it may not be to everyone else’s tastes.

Our property expert advises against cooking foods with strong smells shortly before – or even the day before – you’re about to have a house viewing.

Jonathan, who owns House Buy Fast, says: “It can be really unappetising for people if there is a strong smell of cooked food in someone’s house.

“Fish should never be on the menu while your house is on the market and also any meals that you can still smell the next day.”

Jonathan explains that scent is very important when trying to sell a property and it can either put people at ease or completely put them off.

“Hotels pay people to find the right scents for rooms, lobbies and other areas and it does tend to work,” he says.

“One of the old sneaky tricks is putting vanilla essence on a tray and warming it up in the oven because it gives off the smell of freshly-baked cake.

“Alternatively you can cook biscuits in the oven and you will get the same effect – imagine smelling that on a cold night. It could easily bring a place to life.

“Using scented candles can work too, as long as it’s only a few – something welcoming like cinnamon makes people feel Christmassy.

“It could help them to imagine what it would be like waking up in the property on Christmas morning.”

Hide the home gym & remove odd decorations

It’s important to take the same approach when selling your house as you would trying to sell your car, Jonathan says – so making sure it’s clean and free of clutter is a must.

“You need to look at it through the buyers’ eyes, it can be nerve-wracking looking around someone’s home so make it simple and easy for them to get around,” he adds.

“If you have that old exercise bike or have set up a gym in your third bedroom, move it outside and turn that room back into a bedroom.”

Less is better than more when it comes to decorations, Jonathan believes, as he says it helps people visualise what they will be able to do with the space.

Also, removing any unusual decorations or odd pieces is essential.

Jonathan recalls: “I went to view one property and the guy used to collect mannequin heads and had dozens, perhaps a hundred, of them in a small bungalow. 

“They were all on the walls and everything so wherever you went they were staring at you. I made my excuses and left the property as soon as I could.” 

He also advises moving green bins out of sight to show off the outside space and putting plants around the house to bring the home to life.

Hide any hints of pets… and children

While many would assume cleaning your property before a viewing is an obvious thing, not everyone does it, Jonathan says.

He also claims it is better to try to remove any hint of children or pets living in the property as it could deter some future buyers.

“A lot of people are frightened of or allergic to pets, especially dogs, so they can be worried about moving into a home that’s had them in there,” Jonathan says. 

“Another problem I’ve seen a few times is buyers walking in the garden and stepping in something they wish they hadn’t.

“Then they normally walk it back into the house too – so make sure your lawn is tidy and you’ve put your pooper scooper to good use.”

Jonathan also advises hiring a wet vacuum to rejuvenate carpets that “look a bit tired or dirty”. 

“It takes a few hours to do but you will get back 100 per cent of the money you’ve spent because it looks like you have brand new carpets,” he adds.

Ditch solar panels, jacuzzis and home pubs

With all of us spending more time at home over the past two years, many of us have tried to modernise our pads. 

However, there are a few things that aren’t worth what you think they are – and others that can actually slash the value of your property.

Surprisingly, installing solar panels and heat pumps are on Jonathan’s list of what to avoid.

He explains: “Unfortunately, despite them being good for the planet, solar panels deter people for two reasons.

“They can make the front of a property look quite ugly and people often think they are leased and they would not have control over them.

“I’m not saying they are a bad idea but they have to be sympathetically installed – on a side elevation or somewhere out of sight. Buyers won’t pay extra for them.

“Solar panels may even reduce the value of your property by five per cent or more because buyers factor in the cost of removing them and it can deter others from viewing.”

Other installations for entertainment purposes such as hot tubs and pub taps in a shed are also not a good thing, according to Jonathan.

“While these things were nice in lockdown they are not perfect now and some people will reduce their offers knowing they will have to remove them,” he says.

“Having a pub in your back garden will only appeal to a certain type of buyer so it’s not advisable. 

“And while they may be able to sell a jacuzzi second-hand, buyers may reduce their offer because they will need to remove the electrics and piping.” 

If you’re bad at renovations, don’t DIY!

While some of us are handy with a hammer, others are very clearly not – if you’re in that latter camp it’s best to avoid difficult projects, Jonathan advises.

“The worst thing I’ve seen is when people have run out of money, don’t have the skills to complete a renovation or leave work half-done,” he says.

“I’ve seen places where the walls have been painted but the last two feet before the ceiling was left unpainted because they couldn't reach it.

“In others, people have tried to refit their kitchen but realised it was beyond their skillset so put together a lot of flatpack furniture and shakily held together units instead.

“One person tried to hide that their house needed a new roof by painting over the tiles. It didn’t work and would have knocked a lot of money off the property.”

Jonathan also claims a home office will not bring any additional value to a property either.

“Lots of people wreck dining rooms to install desks, computers, cabling and all kinds of things but that will need to come out before someone moves in,” he says.

Jonathan suggests consulting an estate agent before carrying out any major work as they will often advise whether it will increase a property’s value or not.

“A good property expert will know the local market better than anybody else and can advise you how far to go with the work,” he adds. 

Christmas is the 'perfect time to sell’

While many would assume putting your house on the market just before Christmas is the ultimate no-no, Jonathan argues that’s not true at all.

He explains: “I would get everything ready for a market launch around December 20th and say, ‘I want viewings after the New Year has begun.’

“Literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people go on to property portals over Christmas to look for new homes.

“Boxing Day is always Rightmove’s biggest ever day for traffic because people are off from work, with their families and making plans for the year ahead.

“They will be thinking about whether they need a bigger or smaller house and so it’s worth taking advantage of that traffic.”

Agents should ‘laser in’ on demographics

With countless estate agents all fighting to sell your property it can be hard to know which one to go for.

But Jonathan believes the way to find the best ones is to go online and look at how they have advertised other houses.

He says around 90 per cent of house hunting takes place online nowadays and it’s rare for people to visit estate agent offices – so a good online ad is key.

Not only that, Jonathan claims it’s important to look at the “amount of effort” each agent puts into the listings and their understanding of the market.

“The photographs they use will tell you the story of the estate agent and the one that cares most about the presentation is the best,” he said.

Having nice photographs, videos and even virtual tours could be a sign they are good, Jonathan says – but not only that, the description is very important too.

“Rather than having a normal blurb about local shops and amenities, there should be very specific details that relate specifically to your property,” he adds.

“If you have a family home they should be talking about the local schools, Ofsted reports, local parks with new play equipment, gyms and things like that.

“They need to be detailing the sort of things that will appeal to the right demographics – the agent should know the market very well and go in on it like a laser.”

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