Showing a house – what they don’t tell you……

In a former life, before becoming a mortgage broker, Lee was an estate agent (don’t judge). This month he shares tips on the best way to get your property ready for viewing

Home protectThe do’s & don’ts of showing a house ought to be obvious but from past experience we’ve found that in the excitement of the move, people forget to give their house its manicure, leg wax and makeover and get it in good shape for its big date with the viewing public.

It’s easy to make a house appealing.  From the moment a viewer leaves their car, walks up the clean, weed-free pathway into the tidy hallway with the aroma of freshly perked coffee, their mood is already receptive to the charms of the property.  However, this glitch-free scenario does not always play out in real life.

One particular problem is clutter; especially when the home owner is oblivious to it.  Rooms always look smaller than they are if over-filled with large, dark or mismatched furniture.  Add to that surfaces strewn with miscellaneous knick-knacks, cupboard doors that don’t shut because they are filled to bursting point and bookcases stuffed beyond reasonable capacity and you can be sure that the viewer is distracted from the more pleasing aspects of the property.

So de-clutter – give anything you don’t need to charity, stow all the ornaments away – you have to pack for the move anyway and if you haven’t opened the boxes in the garage/attic/store room since your last move, you don’t need them.

Buy a big tin of Magnolia to paint and freshen up the house, tidying the paintwork as you go and de-personalising the property (you don’t want to be remembered as the vendor with the lime green bathroom no matter how nice you may have thought it looked at the time).  Re-grout your bathroom tiles, polish the chrome and hang new kitchen doors if they are looking tired.

Pay careful attention to cleaning your house – sweep away cobwebs, keep carpets vacuumed and clean the windows.  Check the front door – paint it if necessary then take the lawnmower out of retirement, mow the grass, weed the beds and consider purchasing some cheap, flowering plants to brighten things up.

There are some things that it can be hard to discuss with a vendor.  Just because they love ‘Mauler’ & ‘Killer’ their two Rottweilers it doesn’t follow that viewers will.  Pets are best kept away from the property and pet accessories should be removed until after the viewing.  Which leads me on to the awkward subject of cat litter trays, which should be neither seen nor smelt.  We will never forget the vendor who insisted that every viewer took their shoes off at the front door of the property.  Unfortunately, he owned an elderly cat with very poor aim, invariably missing the litter tray positioned carefully in the centre of the hallway.  Prospective purchasers frequently left the property with cat-urine soaked socks.  Needless to say, the house did not sell.

The other unmentionable is the over-enthusiastic vendor.  Whilst it may seem helpful to follow the viewer around the house pointing out all the electric sockets and each & every light switch, a potential buyer needs to feel comfortable in the house and this is more likely to happen if they are left alone with the agent.  Worse still is the vendor who feels the need to discuss every flaw in the house, recount horror stories about the behaviour of the next door neighbours and mention all the deficiencies in the local schools.  Far better to leave the house, walk the dogs & let the agent get on with it.

That old cliché about freshly brewed coffee works surprisingly well.  There is nothing more off-putting than entering a house to have one’s nose bombarded with strong, unfamiliar or unpleasant smells.  Try to avoid cooking highly-spiced curries – save your baked kippers for another day.  Instead burn a candle or use an air freshener. Try highly-scented cut flowers – sweet peas have a glorious smell.

And when your house is all dressed up, smells beautiful and is clean and sparkling – don’t spoil its big date by keeping it in the dark!  Make sure the lighting is suitable for the time of day and try to avoid viewings after dusk.  Above all, make sure that curtains are drawn & perhaps even consider removing heavy drapes.  Use mirrors to make the most of the light & space and before you know it you will have received a great asking price offer……

From there it’s just a simple matter of arranging the mortgage & insurances for your new property, pack your boxes and pick up your new keys!

Purchasing Property – The Professionals


In the past property professionals languished somewhere between rats & cockroaches in the popularity stakes, no doubt heaving a collective sigh of relief when bankers slipped to the bottom of the pile during the banking crisis.  This reputation is largely undeserved with agents & brokers fulfilling an important & necessary role.  Working long hours & usually receiving considerable training, your property professionals are key to a successful house move.

You will encounter several property professionals in the home buying process.   Arguably the first you should consult is the mortgage broker, top of the list because it is crucial to know how much you can afford to borrow before you fall in love with a house you couldn’t afford without a substantial lottery win.  Lee Beard, Managing Director of The Cotswold Mortgage Broker, advises prospective purchasers to “consult your broker at the outset to get a clear & realistic idea of the price of property you should be aiming for.  Your mortgage broker will assess your credit & ability to afford the monthly mortgage payment before selecting the most suitable product for your needs”.

Once you are confident about your purchasing power, it is time to find the house of your dreams.  Even in this internet age, there are definite benefits to registering with your local estate agent be it in person, by phone or by email.  An estate agent goes to many property appraisals throughout the day, and is consequently able to let you know about brand new properties coming to the market before the details are made public on the internet.  If you are selling as well as buying and have not already done so, you should also have your own property appraised, not only to establish its value but also to ascertain how long it is likely to take to sell in the prevailing market conditions.

Once ready, view some properties, make an offer and once your offer is accepted and your mortgage paperwork is completed, you will need the third property professional – the surveyor.

Usually a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, this property professional is crucial to the house buying process, establishing the true condition of your property prior to purchase.  There are three different kinds of survey report starting with a basic valuation carried out on behalf of the mortgage lender to check that the agreed price is correct.  The Homebuyer’s Report is more thorough advising the general state of repair of the property and pointing out any defects such as damp and timber issues.  It will recommend any works required and identify items needing further investigation.  The Daddy of all survey reports is the Full Structural survey, an extremely detailed report generally recommended for old, unusual or listed properties.

Finally you will need the services of either a solicitor or licensed conveyancer who transfers ownership of a property.  The conveyancer checks title, prepares contracts, answers enquiries and performs a multitude of other legal requirements necessary for a successful property transaction.  At the point of completion the conveyancer co-ordinates payments, deals with problems and ensures all monies are received before keys are issued by the estate agent.

So there you have it – The Mortgage Broker, The Estate Agent, The Surveyor and The Conveyancing Solicitor – all very necessary and highly qualified; all experts in their own field but working in symbiosis.  Choose carefully – ensure your property professional is a member of their regulatory body – and you will find they are invaluable in your property acquisition.

Cotswold Mortgage Broker Burgundy small

By Jacqui Beard