It is one of the most stressful times of your life - selling up and moving house should be closely followed by a long relaxing holiday. But don't panic too much because it can be easy to take some of the stress out of the process of preparing your property for sale. Forget baking bread and brewing coffee - follow a few of these tips and viewers will be beating the door down to take a peek...
First impressions have never counted more. Your messy hedges or uneven paving stones could lose you a sale before you even invite viewers inside. Take a moment to emotionally distance yourself from your surroundings and be critical.
- Before your viewings begin, have a quick wander down your road and look at your house next to your neighbours' properties. Could your window frames or facade do with a quick lick of paint to get them up to scratch? Do you need to re-lay a wonky paving stone or two? Or spruce up your front door? If you are not a fan of this kind of manual work, hire a local handyman. These kind of jobs are quick and cheap to do, and make the world of difference.
- Half an hour before the viewers are due, nip 20 metres down the road from your house and scoop up any litter. Unsightly rubbish isn't a welcome greeting.
- Spend a morning tidying the front garden. A once-over with the lawn mower and a squirt of weedkiller can work miracles. Green fingers aren't required - just make sure it is presentable and tidy. Cheerful flowers are a bonus.
It goes without saying that greasy hobs, crumby surfaces and sticky floors are an immediate turn off. But when your kitchen is spotless, what else can you do to make it appealing?
- Uncluttered surfaces give the illusion of space in a small kitchen. Put jars and bottles away in cupboards and clear as much room as possible.
- Make sure none of your appliances are running when viewers are being shown around - the buzz of the washing machine or whir of the dishwasher isn't the most inviting sound.
- You don't need to spend a fortune on a new fitted kitchen just to impress – save the money for your new house. New stylish cupboard handles are cheap and easy to fit, and can bring your kitchen up to date.
- Give any new bits and bobs an airing before you move. If you have splashed out on a shiny new kettle, replace that old one before you move and show your kitchen in its best light.
This is where the new owners will spend most of their time together, so it is vital you make the right impression. Just remember the 3 Cs - cosy, clean and clutter-free.
- However much you love Fido, he needs to be shooed out for half an hour while your house is being viewed. Dog or cat baskets and toys should be hidden and all areas of your house should be pet-hair free. And as for the smell... Freshen up each room with room sprays and fragrances or open windows for a blast of fresh air.
- If your walls and cabinets are adorned with personal photos of you and your family, try replacing a few with more neutral snaps, perhaps of places rather than people. The viewer needs to be able to picture him or herself living here and pictures of you all around the house may be a distraction.
- Draw back curtains and make the living areas as light as possible. Sun light immediately cheers up a drab room and creates the illusion of space.
Rubber gloves and bleach at the ready! Hide away any personal lotions, potions and other bathroom horrors (hair removal cream, false teeth soak, sanitary products). Now get scrubbing!
- Make sure that clump of hair is removed from the plughole, the mirror and tiles are sparkling and there's no grimy rim around the bath tub or loo.
- Vanity is key! Invest in a couple of expensive looking soaps and make a gleaming impression.
- A small potted plant can bring colour and life to a bland looking bathroom.
- A clean, fresh matching towel set will perfect your show-home bathroom.
Bedrooms are probably the most personal rooms in the house, so try to make them welcoming. Clothes should be away and carpets fluffy and spotless.
- Bed clothes should be clean and matching.
- Don't forget that cupboards and wardrobes can hide a host of sins - if you don't have time to finish the ironing, or sort out that pile of bits and bobs on your bedside table, hide it away. They'll never know!
- Make sure all bins are clean and empty.
Cosmetic niceties aside, George Kendall, Sales Manager for City Docklands Estate Agent in London, offers one piece of sound advice: "Don't fuss around viewers when they are looking around. Leave the house and let the estate agent show them around."