“Why can’t I sell my house despite over 50 viewings ?”

A retired couple sought my advice just to sell, as they had had their  house on the market for over 5 months with 51 viewings in a strong buoyant market and not one offer !! They couldn’t understand how the house could be so popular in attracting huge interest , but no buyer .

Basically , internal presentation was dated and stuck in a bit of a time warp and there was too much old fashioned furniture cluttering the house and making it appear small .  I identified that potential buyers were mentally adding up what THEY  believed it would cost to “put right” , totally over estimating this, and then looking at the clients asking price and adding the two together to come to the conclusion it was over priced . When actually it wasn’t !!

Following my expert advice, they spent £9,600 on generally minor cosmetic improvements (which included amongst many things……changing all 18 internal flush panel 70’s doors for modern 6 panel colonial style, add stainless steel fittings,  redecorate the dowdy study, minor alterations to  lighting in 5 rooms, re-organise and strip out some furniture, and cheaply but effectively refit/refurb  both main bathroom and en-suite shower… all for under £10,000!). Following relaunch and remarketing after recommended works were completed ( only a matter of weeks later)  , the property sold to the very first viewer , and for £35,000 more than they were prepared to accept previously !!!  … that’s a cool £25,000 net profit and more importantly for them , that elusive sale they so badly wanted.

“I am an investor, and want to add value to my next house, but not sure what to do”

An American client, was considering ( and subsequently bought)  a 5 bedroomed detached house  for a competitive price as it was a little tired throughout. He sought my advice on how best to spend circa £75,000 and to see if it was possible to  make around  a 50% improvement on his investment by increasing the value by about £110,000 .

I restyled his rather odd  extension ideas, suggested new style windows to the front elevation adding huge appeal, creating more accommodation from the  same space planned ( he had designed vast oversized rooms adding little value, whereas more rooms of reasonable/large size do add more value and we  reorganised the room layout in the process, and came up with innovative ideas for internal styling of the extension. Equally as important, I stopped him from spending £,8000 on a new brick driveway, which HE felt was worthwhile …… he had a perfectly good in/out gravel driveway, its just HE didn’t like it… he would have seen no return on this £8,000 at all.

Overall his home increased in value from £635,000 to £775,000 after completing all my recommendations. He spent £75,000 and increased value a cool £140,000… £65,000 profit (almost doubling his outlay) and that excludes the £8,000 saving on his driveway!  I exceeded his expectations by increasing his return on his outlay to 100% , not the 50% he aimed at.

“Whilst renovating my period house , how else can I add WOW factor ?”

High profile graphic designer clients, had a period detached farmhouse which they were to renovate and extend having already lived  there a number of years .

Amongst a myriad of internal recommendations , the most radical part of my advice was to remove the whole of the rendered finish to the front elevations of the property. They hadn’t ever though of doing this. This transformed a mere good looking house into a simply stunning red brick and beamed traditional period farmhouse… what it always should have been. This is a classic case of reinstating or adding what I call “wow” factor. This simple, but time consuming exercise would have greatly widened the appeal of their home to potential buyers (although they were not thinking of selling yet) and at today’s prices this change alone would have added about £75,000 to the value of their home, and all at a cost of just £10,000 in labour .


“I am divorcing and need to sell quickly. My house is getting viewings but isn’t selling. I don’t have much money ( if any !)  to spend though…… !!”

These were divorcing clients, and it was the wife who called me in as her husband didn’t believe that by spending time or money on the house would have any benefit.  Both parties had lost interest in the house, and it was badly presented… mainly just cluttered and too full of furniture. I recommended she stripped out unwanted or non critical furniture, removed wardrobes from eye lines on entering rooms re-organising the layout of furnishings (particularly in heavy foot traffic areas like halls and landings),  a little lightening and brightening painting in some places, and a general blitz on the garden. She took the house off the market for just over 2 weeks whilst my recommendations were executed. Most of the work was physical not financial . The house sold within 2 weeks of remarketing  and she accepted a higher price than she would have accepted originally. Evidence itself that you don’t have spend thousands to make thousands… lots of things you can do either for free or for literally pounds. It also highlights the fact that desperate clients will accept a price below what they should ordinarily accept, just to sell a badly presented house. So without spending hardly anything, they increased their value ( they didn’t increase the asking price,  they just accepted a higher price than they were prepared to before , or put another way, the buyer didn’t knock the price down as much, as it appeared better value for money)

“We have plans drawn to extend, but need you to check we are maximising our future investment”

A young couple bought a small cottage through my agency, and planned their ideal extension…ideal for them that is! What they had designed was a totally unbalanced home (much larger upstairs than downstairs , ie they created huge bedrooms and left smaller rooms as existing downstairs ). By unbalancing the house to suit their individual needs they would have added no extra value at all. They would have spent about £40,000 only returning the same money on resale. Not a bad deal, but not a great investment either .   After a little deliberation on my part I re-designed their plans, still giving them what they wanted, but with slightly reduced bedroom sizes to be able to ADD  an extra bedroom and an en-suite shower. Ok, the rooms became smaller, but bigger rooms don’t always add value, more rooms always do. Originally they would have spent about £40,000 only returning the same money on resale. My ideas meant spending £49 ,000 but increasing value by £75,000. They could have blindly gone and extended and been happy… I made them happy and better off.

“How , with Giles advice , I made a cool £94,000 ……by making the house SMALLER !”

On one victorian end terraced home, which had failed to attract a buyer after 7 months, I  identified that the balance of accommodation was completely wrong for the target buyer, who were young commuting couples , typically with either no children or one young child. The house originally provided 4 bedrooms over 3 floors, with only one bathroom. Not what that market wanted from an end terraced house . Rather alarmingly to the client , I advised  a reduction in accommodation from 4 beds & 1 bath, to 3 larger beds and 2 baths ( one en suite) , therefore suiting the target buyer better. I advised a total spend of £32,000 on general decor, internal doors, replacing a plastic conservatory roof for glass, re organised flow and function by changing room use ( the best room for dining was being used for living and vice versa ) , adding  a new ensuite  bathroom etc . The transformation was dramatic  and the accommodation now perfect, to appeal to no less than 3 buyers , the successful bidder paying a whopping £126,000 more only 5 months later!!  Thats a cool £94,000 profit, and on a house that got smaller!!!   Its easy when you know how.

“Prior to marketing I  totally refurbished my city apartment. After 18 months it still hasn’t sold, and I don’t understand why as its so cool now ! Can you help ??”

This high flying city stockbroker owned an 8 year old apartment in London, and cleverly recognised that by comparison to the numerous new luxury apartments that were for sale and competing with hers , that hers was now out of date .

She totally refurbished by copying the style of the new ones …….and it still didn’t sell after over 18 months on the market. The market wasn’t great at the time. She called me in to assess where she had gone wrong in terms of presentation. I have to say in this case , and it was a first ( and only since) that I could NOT fault the interior or exterior in ANY way !!!  She had done a brilliant job, right style, right quality , right tones, right spend . Mmmmmm…… what was wrong ? After chatting extensively with her, and looking at the flat , I realised it wasn’t classic house doctoring she needed, BUT what she did need was marketing advice. And here is where my 34 years as an estate agent NOT an interior designer cum housedoctor came in. She had made basic fundamental errors in her choice of her first sole agent , then in opening it up to too many agents, and then continuously reducing the price, but too late after it was due. To explain further these points……Her 1st agent was not best located to sell her apartment , she had used a friend/contact in slightly off patch location, and in London, that can be catastrophic. Net result, they didn’t introduce enough buyers looking for her type of flat in her locality, and as her apartment was in a better location than the agents office, her price looked very high by comparison to others they had on their books….even though it wasn’t high for her area.  She then made another fatal error, in not instructing just 2 more very local agents to her , but instructing no less than 7 agents. !!!!

Now guess what the potential buyers thought when they saw her flat with a total of 8 agents…..desperate, something wrong with the flat, too highly priced, something else wrong like location perhaps??…so they chose not to view !! Best avoid her apartment they thought. The other error she continually made was to get advice from her agent about having to reduce the price to match market trends and then not doing so for far too long, finally reducing, BUT reducing when it was due for another reduction !! So she was always behind the game on price , always looking expensive , even though in her mind she kept reducing thinking it was priced well. She was marketing at £365,000, 3 months into marketing she was advised to reduce to £349,500. She didn’t reduce to this price until a further 4 months had gone by , when in fact agents were suggesting the price then should have been reduced to £339,950. So she was always about 5% too much. Oh, and a few of the agents failed to mention on their particulars that it was just minutes from the nearest tube station, and only 10 minutes from the nearest nursery school. Huge competition from over 125 new apartments being built and offered for sale didn’t didn’t help her cause either . All these factors contributed to what was a very very well presented flat, not selling .  I advised reducing the number of agents to 3 , and reducing the price immediately to an average of what they were all currently recommending. It still took a few months to sell, but it did in the end.

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