Doorsteps blog posts

Blog entry by Doorsteps

Tips for a Successful Open House

An open house can attract more interested potential buyers to your house, allowing you to highlight its unique, special, energy-saving and/or economical features. We have some tips to help you maximise your chances of success at this critical event:

·         Clean like you mean it! If you finish and it’s not spotless, start again! This is the opportunity to wash the windows, shampoo the carpet, clean out those closets, pressure wash the decks/patio/walkway, trim the grass, deadhead the flowers and generally make your house shine from top to bottom. Hire a pro if you don’t have time. You will have open house visitors who do the white glove test!

·         Schedule your open house at a convenient time. How many people are going to show up at 2:00 on a Tuesday? Opt for times that are more convenient, such as the weekends. This will ensure you attract as many potential buyers as possible.

·         Publicise your open house. People may see a sign in your yard and turn in while they’re out driving, but don’t rely on chance. Create awareness of your open house by posting it on social media and making sure your estate agent is aware of the time and date of the open house.

·         Create a one-pager. Visitors want to know your energy performance ratings, how old the house is, when the roof was put on, if the washer and dryer are included and if so, when did you purchase them? Create a short document with all these property details, and place them near the entryway. Also put some throughout the house on end tables so people can pick one up if they’ve missed it at the front.

·         Keep your valuable items locked away. Most open house visitors come looking for a house; a few come looking for jewelry, cash, or knick-knacks. Make sure you’ve removed all of your items that hold significant monetary and sentimental value.

·         Offer refreshments. This is an area of some controversy; some experts say that guests aren’t there for the cookies. Well, no. But a cookie is nice, isn’t it? Offering some light refreshments encourages people to stay longer and chit-chat – and this is important in terms of selling your home.

If you’ve decided to host an open house, use these tips. Especially the first one. Start cleaning now!

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Blog entry by Doorsteps

Kavindra’s Advice: Why it is a great idea to list your property during Christmas period.

Cracking your knuckles gives you arthritis. Breaking a mirror will give you 7 years bad luck. It takes 7 years to digest a swallowed chewing gum. Properties do not sell in during the Christmas period.  We have heard all these clichés before and for a lot of people, these statements are common knowledge.

However, how true are these clichés?

It is widely believed that selling your home during Christmas is a complete and utter no-no due to a lack of activity. On the surface of things, this pre-conceived notion makes sense. The whole family is together spending time with one another, eating, drinking, watching movies and ultimately having fun. There would seem like there is no time for such things like looking at the potential new house.

Yet, having your property listed in winter and particularly during the Christmas period is very advantageous in a number of ways that are backed up by stats and figures.

Firstly, online companies like Rightmove, Zoopla, and Prime Location have changed the way properties are viewed. Gone are the days of peering through high street estate agent’s windows or rummaging through the middle pages of local newspapers. Now, 98% of people looking to purchase a home start their search on these major portals and it is clear to see why this is the case. With these websites, you can access over a million homes all over the nation with reports such as property purchase history as well as information about the area's schools and crime. This is all available at your fingertips and in clear site. The larger portals allow you to “visit” the area with Google street view. PwC even specifically attributed Rightmove and Zoopla as being the reason for High Street estate agents is one of the biggest ‘fallers’ in the high street in the first 6 months of this year. 

Secondly, year on year, traffic on the major portals has risen exponentially.   Rightmove’s web traffic between Boxing Day and mid-January had risen by 5% from last year (2016) to this year. On Christmas day alone, there were over 1 million visitors to the website. This number rose every day and nearly hit 3 million visits on the 29th of December 2016. To put into context, the average total visits of the last 6 months were 56.72 million (June-Nov 2017). The 3 million marks were shattered by the 3rd of January. That same month of January recorded numbers of views and visits with visits totaled over 120million visits! This is 2 years on the trot the month of January has broken the record. Also, with the sensational news that stamp duty will be abolished for first time buyers for properties up to £300k also to the first £300,000 value on properties worth up to £500,000 in major cities where property prices are more expensive, this record will surely be broken again.

Private companies pay tens of thousands of pounds to get in front of peak time to audiences because they know the more eyes that see their product or service, the more interest they will garner. A sale may not be reached during the Christmas period but having your property visible during this time has the potential to vastly improve your chances of selling it.

So, do not wait anymore, call us now, and we will make sure that your property will be available for people to see during the Christmas period.

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Blog entry by Doorsteps

Pros and Cons of Hosting an Open House

It’s a rare buyer who will purchase a house sight unseen. It is important for people to see how elements of a house come together, how rooms flow, how straight the floors are… seeing is believing! An open house is simply a block of time during which potential buyers can view your house without having an appointment. Should you host one of these events?

 

Let’s find out. Here’s a look at the pros and cons:

 

On the downside:

 

·         You have to think about security. Anyone can come, and this can be a problem. If you live in a desirable (wealthy) area, the less scrupulous may come to see what they can get their hands on (and fit in their pockets).

·         Your house may not be not “perfect.” Think of open houses like dinner parties – except everyone’s going to be super critical! This is a chance to show off your house, warts and all. If you’ve got a few more warts that you’d like and no time to fix them, an open house may not be the best method by which to sell your house. One-on-one showings enable you to explain your house’s eccentricities in a positive light.

·         They can attract “tire-kickers.” These are people who are just nosy or want to check out your property. They have no interest in buying, but perhaps too much interest in your complementary cheese and crackers. This can be discouraging, not to mention a waste of your time.

On the other hand, an open house can help you sell your home:

·         They increase exposure. Some people are more comfortable viewing a house in a group; they feel that there is less pressure. If they are interested after seeing it, they can schedule a one-on-one with you.

·         They increase appeal. When potential buyers see that others are interested in the house, it increases the urgency they feel. It can prompt them to make an offer or at least schedule a follow-up for an individual showing.

·         You can highlight features that don’t photograph well. Sometimes it is difficult to capture the real essence or feeling of a home in 2D photos – or even 3D renderings. In this case, an open house allows visitors to see what makes your house so special, whether it is a cosy reading nook perfect for nap-lovers or a finished basement ready for gym equipment.

Is an open house right for you? It may be the solution to engaging buyers and selling your house more quickly.

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Blog entry by Doorsteps

Showing Your House in an Hour? Your Last-Minute To-Do List

A showing can be an emotional situation – and a stressful one on top of that. There’s always something to do, something to straighten, something to worry about! What if you’ve forgotten something? Relax. Take a deep breath. As prepared as you are, there will always be last-minute details to attend to. Here’s your cheat sheet when potential buyers are on their way!

 

Always be ready. If a potential buyer calls and can only view your house in an hour, it’s preferable if you can say, “Of course! See you soon!” Work and obligations can get in the way, but when possible, maximise availability – this maximises the chance the right buyer will walk in the door.

 

Keep it ready. This is difficult if you live in the house, but try to keep it in show condition all the time. You’ve likely done a big clean; do careful maintenance to make sure the house always looks and smells its best. When you do have a short-notice showing, you can be ready.

 

Do a walk-through. Anything you need to put away? Clean? Hide? Is the bathroom fresh? Can you shove that basket of laundry in a drawer? Are the curtains and blinds open to maximise natural light? Can you switch on a lamp to give a dark corner a cosy glow? Let’s go!

 

Vacuum. Run your vacuum over your carpets horizontally and vertically, and then stay off it. Those tracks make the surfaces look even cleaner!

 

Empty the garbage. Take out the trash, stat. You don’t want last night’s takeaway containers mucking up the air.

 

Get rid of your pets. Ok, not really, and not forever. Just find a place for them to visit while you do the showing. Pets are homey and cosy – but what if buyers are allergic? Simply don’t like dogs or cats? What if your pets are anxious and don’t like strangers in “their” house. Better to avoid all this and ask a friend to watch them for a bit.

 

Inform your neighbours. Give them the courtesy of notifying them that you’ll have people coming and going. Hopefully, this will stave off grumbling if there’s a line for the elevator or unfamiliar cars are parked at the kerb.

 

Need more tips for a great showing? We’re here to help.

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Blog entry by Doorsteps

Tips for Cleaning Bathroom Grout

We know: cleaning bathroom grout has to be at the very bottom of everyone’s to-do list. There’s always something more important, more fun, and less gross to do! But when you’re selling your house, a sparkling clean bathroom is a must. And that means getting out a brush and going to work on the grout.

What you’ll need:


·         Stiff brush. There are tools built just for this job readily available at home stores, hardware stores, and online (e.g. Amazon).

·         Water.

·         A bit of time.

What you may need:

 

·         Vinegar.

·         Baking soda.

·         Commercial cleanser (e.g. Clorox OxiMagic, OxiClean).


When it comes to cleaning grout – or most anything in your home – you want to start with the most gentle option. In this case, it’s just good old water. If your grout is relatively new and unstained, simply run warm water over it and use the stiff brush to gently scrub in a circular motion.



Because grout tends to be a magnet for discolouration, water may not do the trick. In this case, spray some diluted vinegar (1 part water, 1 part vinegar) on the grout. Let it sit for five minutes and then scrub. If you still see stains, make a paste with baking soda and water. Apply this to the grout lines, and then spray with the diluted vinegar. It’ll bubble and fizz; it’s working! Wait for it to stop foaming, and then scrub and rinse.



These home remedies may not be a match for serious stains. If that’s the case, opt for a commercial product like OxiClean, OxiMagic, or another solution that contains oxygen bleach. Make sure you have a window open and/or fan on to ventilate the bathroom, and then use according to the instructions. Typically, you’ll have to wait about 15 minutes for it to work. Then rinse thoroughly – and keep that fan on!



While your house is on the market, spritz it weekly with vinegar or alcohol to prevent staining and mould/mildew buildup. A spic-and-span bathroom may just be the key to selling your house fast!

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Blog entry by Doorsteps

High Street Agents vs. Online Estate Agents: Take a Look

When selling a house, having access to the most knowledgeable estate agents can help you get your property off the market sooner and fetch a higher price. Is an online service the way to go? We think so! But in the interest of full disclosure and transparency, let’s take a look at some of the differences involved.

·         Upfront payment. While high street agents earn a commission based on the selling price, many online agents charge an upfront fee. Keep in mind that this is substantially less (our rates, for example, can save you over £5000).

·         Local knowledge. Online services that operate regional may not have the neighbourhood-level knowledge that can be important in selling a property expeditiously. In this case, a local high street agent may seem like the better choice. However, it is possible to choose an online service that operates in your area. They’ll have their finger on the pulse of the market. Our agents are well acquainted with estate trends in general and your locale in particular.

·         Asking price. It is often thought that because online estate agents do not work on commission, they do not have much incentive to work for a higher asking price. That might be true for some agencies. Others, though, realise that their clients deserve the best service – and their reputation depends on delivering it.

·         Showings. Most online estate agencies do not do showings. Rather, that is the responsibility of the owner. In most cases, hosting your own showing is beneficial because you can answer the questions of potential buyers quickly, while showing them the highlights of your property. Now, if you are overly attached to your house, you may not be able to host an objective showing. In that case, choose an online estate agency that will perform this service for you upon request.

The key when you get ready to sell your home is to make the choice that’s right for you. Don’t hesitate to contact us so we can tell you more!

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Blog entry by Doorsteps

Benefits of Using an Online Estate Agent

Selling your house is one of the most important financial decisions in anyone’s life. Not only are you parting with a property that may have been “home” to you, you must make sure that you get a price that enables you to move on. To help streamline the process, many sellers turn to estate agents. But why should you consider an online service?

Online estate agents offer a host of benefits over traditional high street agents. Chief among them:

·         Cost. We all know buying a house is expensive, but few people consider just how pricey it is to sell. That is until they find themselves in this situation. Estate agent fees add up quickly: a high street agent will charge about 1.3 percent. Let’s say you have a home in London, where the average price is over £484,000. You will pay over £6000 in fees. Doorsteps, on the other hand, charges a flat fee of either £99 or £199.

·         Access. Can you call a high street agent at the weekend or at night? Well… maybe.  Some do offer this level of responsiveness. But if you want the convenience of evening and weekend access, online estate agents do staff their call centres outside of typical business hours.

·         Flexibility. As mentioned, Doorsteps offers two packages at different price points. This enables you to select the services and features you want. For example, if you want to take your own photos and feel you can write your own property description, you can opt for the lower-priced package. If you want a more complete solution, opt to spend just a bit more. Your choice; no pressure. How refreshing!

Of course, not all online estate agents are created equal. Make sure you choose a service that will deliver the service you need, including valuations, listings on key sites like Zoopla and Rightmove, and a dedicated agent who is committed to selling your house quickly, and for the best price. Discover yet more benefits of working with the UK’s premier online estate agents.


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Blog entry by Doorsteps

Pricing Your House

Getting the best possible price is essential when selling your house – but “best possible” means different things to different people. “Best” is not necessarily “highest.” One of the most common reasons properties sit on the market is that they are priced too high. The key is balance; achieving a price that meets your needs and those of the buyer.

Housing prices are based on a variety of factors. Chief among them is the location. Research what other properties in your area are listed for, and more importantly, have sold for recently. Your estate agent can help you access this information, and you can start with sites like the HM Land Registry,Zoopla and Rightmove. 

The overall market is your starting point. The value of your house is also impacted by factors such as:

  • Size.
  • Number of beds/baths.
  • Yard space/lawn/garden.
  • Parking.
  • Age.
  • Structural integrity and wear.
  • Layout.
  • Nearby amenities, such as schools.

Asking price also depends on you. How much time do you have in which to sell? For example, if you want an expedited sale, you may have to compensate by listing the house for a lower price to move it quickly. If you have the luxury of more time, you can always list it on the high side. If it doesn’t sell, you could consider adjusting it down. 

Another benefit of having more time is that you can tackle some issues that do influence price: you could spiff up the place with paint jobs and landscaping. You could finally finish turning that shed into a fully-equipped office or studio, or you could invest in structural elements, such as a new roof. These all have the potential to help you fetch a higher price.

Before you list your house, talk to the estate experts at Doorsteps. We will complete a free property analysis and valuation, so you can feel comfortable going forward with the sales process. Pricing is complex; we’ll help you simplify. 

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Blog entry by Doorsteps

Tips for Great Viewings

Showing your house is one of the most critical steps in the sales process. The benefit of hosting showings as the owner is that you can answer questions about the home and highlight its best features for potential buyers. Here are a few tips to help ensure viewings are a success.

1. Be welcoming and gracious. Yes, it sounds a bit basic; but people respond to warmth, particularly when they are in the market for a home. Welcome potential buyers, answer questions and let them explore on their own for a bit. This gives them a chance to talk it over without you there (they’d not want to offend you or talk about private matters in front of you at this point).

2. Make sure it’s comfortable. Turn the heat up or the AC down, depending on the day.  You don’t want people to feel uncomfortable – how are they supposed to picture themselves enjoying the family room if they’re shivering or mopping off sweat? 

3. Be careful with scents. People have different “tastes” when it comes to scents, and some are allergic to deodorants and other such products. Stay low-key. If you do want to flavor the air with something like cookies or warm cinnamon buns, you run the risk of whetting your guests’ appetites! Be sure to set out some treats for them to nibble on if your scent is reminiscent of food.

4. Think about flow. How do you want people to move through the house? Arrange carefully selected pieces of furniture (putting the rest in storage) so they encourage people to flow through from room to room. Little details, like leaving doors slightly ajar or draping lovely fabrics on sofas and chairs, encourages people to touch and interact with the house.

5. Offer refreshments. Speaking of nibbles, you can entice people into staying longer – and be becoming attached to the house! – if you offer cookies, finger sandwiches, cheeses and crackers, small desserts, and soft drinks. Remember to set out plates, napkins, and utensils, as well as a trash receptacle. Place a guest book or questionnaire nearby for people to fill out while or after they have eaten.

For more helpful viewing tips, contact the experts at Doorsteps

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Blog entry by Doorsteps

Terrific House-Selling Investment: A Pressure Washer

We all know buying a house is expensive – but selling one can be pricey as well! You can save money by opting to take advantage of the expertise of Doorsteps estate agents and our streamline process. Tackling maintenance jobs yourself on weekends can also help you cut costs. In this endeavour, the mighty pressure washer is your best friend. Here's why it is such a great investment.

A pressure washer uses a high-pressure water spray to remove loose grit, grime, dirt, paint, gum (gross, right?) and more from a variety of surfaces. You can purchase a small electric pressure washer fairly inexpensively, or if you have all your jobs lined up, you can hire one from a home improvement store. As always, borrowing one can cost you as little as a pizza or pint! When you have secured a pressure washer through whatever means, use it to: 

  • Clean up your driveway. Pressure washers work beautifully on these surfaces. Blast away grit and boost your kerb appeal.
  • Refresh your concrete or tile patio or wood deck. Get these outdoor areas looking their best. Many househunters purchase in the summer months, so ensuring these spaces are ship-shape is essential.
  • Speaking of outdoor spaces... Use this machine to give your patio/outdoor furniture an instant makeover. You can also get your grill gleaming (just make sure you do that bit correctly. Briggs & Stratton has a useful tutorial).
  • Make your entryway welcoming. Pressure wash your walkway to invite excited buyers right in.
  • Hose down your house. Pressure washers work wonders on brick and vinyl homes. You may be surprised how completely this revitalises your exterior. If you have a fence, treat that as well. Talk about kerb appeal!

Pressure washing can help remove bits and pieces that accumulate over the years and reveal your house at its best. For other tips, don’t hesitate to contact us!

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