Presentation is everything

How the Coronavirus is affecting the London property market

Since Londoners were asked to stay at home except for essential outings, we have continued to be busy helping over 2,000 of our customers with their pre-arranged home moves.

As you would imagine, we are acting precisely as the Government has instructed us to do in their advice to agents. We are asking people to delay moves where possible and still have over 2,000 more people to move as soon as restrictions are lifted.

We have seen a few people whose plans have changed but on the whole everyone has been pressing on with their plans.

The property market after Covid-19

viewing large

From what we can tell at this time, the number of tenants looking for property in London during the summer looks likely to be at or above normal, with a lot of pent up demand. As far as we can see at the moment, rent levels should be maintained and we expect to be very busy once we are able to trade normally.

During March, the sales market was exceptionally busy and we were anticipating price rises of up to 10% in the spring. That was of course before Covid-19 struck, so inevitably we don't see that the increase will now happen. However, from what we can tell talking to the large number of buyers we have registered, demand for property is still going to be very high all across London and so we expect to see plenty of activity immediately when the lock-down ends. We predict that we will still achieve very good prices for property, at much the same level as we were at the beginning of the year.

If you are thinking of selling or letting, you can still take some initial steps with our local Directors who are on hand to give you their personal attention and advice. We can now carry out a virtual valuation of your property, and you can call any of our offices to arrange one, or alternatively book an appointment here.

Presentation is everything

Spring is a good time to get your property looking it’s best. With most people spending their time at home right now, a good spring clean is on many to-do lists.

Anyone thinking of selling or letting their property this year can go that extra step and do many small things in preparation, making sure that buyers and tenants get a good first impression.

Dexters tips on how to present your property to look it’s best:

The living room

The fewer things in a room, the less distractions on the eye and the larger a room appears. So keep furniture to a minimum, making the living room seem lived-in but not crowded.

When people view, they’re visualising a lifestyle - so again you need to accessorise as such. So if yours is a bachelor apartment, leave a few appropriate magazines on a coffee table or if a family home, it’s OK to have several toys stored neatly in appropriate places to show the house can accommodate children.

It’s not realistic to go out and buy new furniture but you can smarten up a worn sofa or chair with a throw or something placed strategically nearby to distract the eye away from a worn piece of furniture. If you want to go that one step further, there are some inexpensive sofa and armchair covers on the market – but keep them unpatterned.

It’s important in a living room to give the space a heart or focal point such as the fireplace – not the TV! Although it’s not practical to hide the TV, try and make it seem as if this isn’t the only activity that happens in this room. De-clutter the mantelpiece and put a few simple co-ordinated objects on it instead. If it’s winter draw attention to the fireplace by having it ablaze!

The front

Let’s start with the outside. It may be an old chestnut but it’s perfectly true – first impressions are a huge part of successful house selling so make sure your property looks well-loved and tidy from the outside. Remove the rubbish bin, sweep the path and space around the front door and put in a few in-season plants or install window boxes to make the area welcoming.

While peeling paint and a scruffy exterior may set the pulses racing for a few hardy DIY buffs, it’s a big turn-off for the majority of buyers who’d rather walk in and put their feet up. So a fresh lick of paint on the door and window frames could help if the paintwork is looking tired. Even if they’re in good shape they could undoubtedly do with a wipe down and door fixtures given a polish to make them gleam. This is the viewers’ first contact with your home, so make a positive impact!

Don’t forget to clean the windows, check the front door bell works and ensure there’s adequate lighting between footpath and house if people will be viewing in the evenings.

The hall

The hall may be simply a thoroughfare but it’s crucial to getting the viewing off to the right start. Get rid of clutter like children’s bikes, pushchairs and if it’s a small space, a hall table. Invest instead in a small shelf for post and keys. Add some interest with a few co-ordinated pictures and check the lighting isn’t too harsh.

Kitchen and bathrooms

The bathroom and kitchen are the rooms which frequently swing a sale. The kitchen needs to look easy to work in with as little clutter on the work surfaces as possible - just enough to make it look used, such as a few gleaming utensils and one or two Nigella or Jamie cook books neatly stacked. File away children’s paintings, shopping lists and calendars stuck on the fridge, dog’s bowls, rubbish bins and piles of washing.

Ensure everywhere is spotless. There’s nothing more off-putting than looking at other people’s grease spots and spills on cupboards, cookers and hoods. If your units are tired, paint them with a pale, neutral colour and add modern handles bought inexpensively from a large DIY store. If they’re too far gone, you could think about asking a carpenter to run up some new doors made from a material like MDF, which is cheap and comes ready to paint.

Co-ordinate the look you want to achieve with matching storage jars, a tablecloth or a set of new, off-the peg blinds.

In the bathroom, leave a few quality toiletries on show and banish shampoo bottles and other clutter. Keep toys, baby baths, potties and other things which make the room look smaller, out of sight. Top it off with fluffy new towels and bathmat for a touch of luxury.

Most important of all, however, is to make the room spotlessly clean. Polish mirrors and windows and ensure taps are sparkling and the areas around them free from lime scale. Get rid of mould and debris between tiles with a grouting tool. The toilet should always be clean and left with the seat down. Unless it’s new, replace your shower curtain with a neutral pattern (or a more contemporary looking shower screen) and if the bath has seen better days, you could get it reenamelled rather than replace it.

Bedrooms

Do you feel a sense of comfort and tranquillity when you walk into the main bedroom? This is what buyers are looking for – a place where they can unwind after a hectic day. Light coloured walls, carpets and curtains, colour co-ordinated bed linen, bedspreads and cushions and a sensuous rug not only provide the much needed wow factor, but also add to the sense of calm you’re after! (Brightly coloured or patterned bed linen will simply shrink the room by making the bed seem to take up more space.)

Original fireplaces are a big selling point in Victorian houses so if yours has been boarded up, now’s the time to uncover it, or spruce it up by removing clutter from the top and giving it a good clean and wood surrounds a coat of paint.

Go easy on the accessories, but a few girly items like perfume bottles, as well as cushions, framed prints or photos and books help to make the place feel lived in without overdoing it.

Place the bed so there’s access on three sides. Or if there’s a good view out of the window, move the bed so people can envisage themselves in bed on a Sunday morning, cup of tea in hand, gazing out at the view.

The garden

Can I relax in this garden with a glass of wine in summer? Will the children be happy playing here? Can the space be maintained without needing to get gardening gloves out every weekend? Is it overlooked by neighbours? These are the questions people ask themselves when they walk into your garden, so you need to put yourself in their shoes and create the haven they’re looking for.

Viewers will be able to envisage how the garden can be used if you lay out the patio furniture as if you’re about to relax there. Add instant pizazz with some terracotta pots or galvanised steel planters filled with box shrubs, miniature olive trees or fashionable grasses.

The garden needs to look low maintenance so ensure there isn’t a weed in sight, the lawn is mown and climbers such as ivy (which damages masonry), are removed from outside walls. Well-trained climbers like wisteria, roses and clematis on the other hand are a big plus for buyers. If you’re selling in winter invest in some evergreen plants to provide year-round greenery.

Finally, add a few new plants to provide colour if you haven’t any already, keep children’s toys to a minimum and stash bikes, wendy houses, portable climbing frames and slides in a corner or in the shed.

Be aware of which way your garden faces as it’s a question which many buyers ask (a compass will tell you in an instant). This is because people are often told when house hunting to look for a garden which faces south or west as they’re sunnier. Whatever direction yours faces, be well versed about how much sun your garden gets, when and for how long each day - this is what matters!

Thinking of Selling or Letting? Find out the value of your property