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16Oct

Finding the perfect partner has never been easier. Or so we are told...

In love, you can download an app and find your dream date with the swipe of a finger. Looking for the best home insurance deal to suit you? Comparison sites have got you covered.

But choosing the right letting agent? There’s no app for that (yet).

Last month, we explored why a landlord might need to use a letting agent to manage the load. We looked at how the right agent can save you time, money and provide peace of mind. (For a recap on the benefits of working with a letting agent, take a look at last month’s blog post here - Do I need a letting agent? 6 reasons why you might).

There are over 13,500 estate agents in the UK and the majority of these manage lettings. So how on earth can you tell which is the right letting agent for you?

Finding the right letting agent is a lot like meeting ‘the one’. They always pick up the phone when you call. They’re there to help you out of a pickle. And, they always have your best interests at heart.

But for the relationship to work, it’s best to make sure your values align. After all, the perfect partner gets on with your friends. Just as your agent needs to have a good relationship with potential tenants in the area. They need to be consistent in the level of service they provide. In an age of fingertip-information internet searches, check out their history online like you would with a potential partner.

Don’t let the pizzaz dazzle you to what matters most. Corporate agents may have all the swagger, but it's what's inside that matters.

It’s important to get to know an agent before you get carried away and sign up to a deal.

Larger agents will carry out the same services as smaller, independent letting agents. Yes, it's true. But the manner in which the agents provide these services can be like chalk and cheese.

Larger, corporate brand agents can often have many, many clients to balance. To operate successfully, it is only right that they need to have highly structured processes in place. The question is, can their occasionally-inflexible processes and procedures bend to you and your individual needs?

Independent letting agents tend to have customer service at their core. You can recognise them by their cosy offices, local dial codes, just-boiled kettles and friendly smiles. Client-focused, they are happy to adapt to best serve your individual needs.

As in any new relationship, take it one step at a time and weigh up your options before making any big decisions, such as signing up to a letting arrangement deal.

#1: Local area experts

The dream letting agent should know your town like the back of their hand. We’re not saying they have to be ‘born and bred’ local, but to serve you well, they need to know their way around town.

Can this agent pass the lightening round test? Potential tenants want to know everything. Transport links, amenities, good schools...

Understanding the area is key to drafting in the best tenants.

After all, attracting the right tenants to your property is in every landlord’s best interest.

Independent agents often have local links to the area. In some cases, they are family run throughout the generations. With good local knowledge, letting agents will be able to match the right tenant to your home.

#2: Consistency of service

There’s no denying the wow factor of some of the larger brand estate agents. They have big shiny offices. They have offices across several locations. Their logos are catchy and their professionalism stands out. Impressive? Undeniably. But don’t let sparkly branding blind you to what matters most: consistency of service.

What could be more frustrating than getting lost in the ether? Getting cut off on phone transfers or passed around between departments. Nobody likes hold music. When the chips are down and you need your letting agent’s help, it’s nice to know their name. It’s helpful to deal with the same person each time you call. It’s reassuring to be able to put a face to the name.

#3: Part of the ‘in crowd’

Choosing an agent who is the ‘expert in the area’ means as a landlord, you will have the best pick of the tenants. This is because your ‘local expert’ agent has all the bases covered. They know everything about the locale; which are the best schools, which supermarkets deliver, the tastiest takeaways and they know something else besides. They know everyone.

Independent letting agents are part of the local scenery. You might bump into them at the post office. You might share a hurried nod on the school run. You probably drink in the same pub.

Other people in the neighbourhood know them too. Knowing faces is the business of local estate agents. With their expert local knowledge, they tend to attract more tenants. After all, they've got to know lots of different renters over the years.

Chances are, they already have the perfect tenant for your property on their books.

Friendly independent agents like to chat to you. They take the time to pick up the phone to possible tenants to let them know about new properties coming up.

#4: Quality of service

Money matters. But the fee isn’t always the best driving force when searching for the best letting agent.

Price, whilst important, is no guarantee of quality of service. Instead, consider what your letting agent is offering for that fee.

Quality of service also includes their turnaround time. Ask letting agents the time taken on average from putting a property on the market to successfully letting it out.

Watch out for false promises. Some larger agents may guarantee you a timescale of two weeks. However, sometimes it’s worth taking a little longer to search out the perfect tenant.

Balance out cost and time, after all – your time is money.

#5: Rave reviews

Here comes the fun part…review time!

A letting agent’s website will give you a great idea of who they are and their achievements. But for the real truth, it’s best to do your own independent research. Trawl Google Reviews and Facebook to find out what others are saying about letting agents in your area.

Watch out for ‘fake reviews’ - volume doesn’t always reflect success and service. Impersonal avatars are a giveaway. Vague reviews lacking in detail can also be the work of paid professionals.

How knowledgeable is this agent? What is their customer service like?

When you’ve narrowed your list down to the top three, it’s time for a mystery shop.

Call up your prospective letting agent and put them to the test. Ask them some basic questions, such as “how much would you expect my property to fetch in monthly rent”, “how will you go about attracting a tenant for my property” or “what checks do you put in place to ensure you are recruiting quality tenants for my home”?

Step #6: Endorsements and accolades

By now you may have a potential agent in your sights. Before finalising your choice, check out their qualifications. Just as you would hire a qualified electrician to rewire your home, or go to a qualified dentist for root canal surgery, your property rental should also be in the hands of an expert.

Is your letting agent registered with a trade body or ombudsman? Look out for key logos such as NAEA or ARLA Propertymark or the purple RICS emblem (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors).

Such agencies’ mission statements are to reassure and safeguard the public by encouraging their members to sign up to membership rules that include clear codes of conduct and who enforce disciplinary measures for those who fall short of expectations.

A good letting agent is open, transparent and moving forward with the times. 

Step #7: Philosophy…

One final point to consider is a letting agent’s philosophy.

Values-led letting agents focus on care and customer service, rather than smashing targets. After all, you are a person, not a number, right?

Whether the property you are letting is yours or a loved one’s, be sure to seek out a letting agent with a reputation for honesty and great customer service. Some agents may tell you everything you want to hear. Follow your gut. Take the time to do your research in order to investigate whether or not they have your best interests at heart.

Don’t forget, in some cases the agent with the longer turnaround time is the one making sure you have the right tenant for your property. Remember, with thousands of letting agents out there, finding the best fit for you is the most important factor.

A top quality letting agent can help ensure your property stays let for the long term. And once you’ve found your ideal letting agent, it’s time to set your sights on the dream tenant.

Join me again next month as I reveal: "How to attract the perfect tenant"

For more information on how the right letting agent could help you better run your properties better why not call us on 01364 652652 or drop me a line at katie@sawdyeandharris.co.uk. Let us handle the now so you can look to the future.

 

01Oct

We have all heard that first impressions count and never is this truer than when trying to sell your property. Not only will excellent photographs catch the attention of eager buyers, but by emphasising the lifestyle your home actually offers, a well-planned photoshoot is likely to draw in serious viewers who won’t waste your time.

So why not pinch a few tips and tactics from the world of professional photography to get your home ready for its market debut?

Lay the Groundwork 

There is a lot to consider before inviting a photographer to take pictures of your house. Everything from the weather on the day of the shoot, to the quirks and features of your home, and even the experience of the photographer can influence the outcome.

While there isn’t a lot about these factors you can control, you do have the power to set the scene to achieve optimum results. Here are some expert tips to help you on your way:

Clear the decks ­

You can’t add inches to the size of your rooms, but poor lighting and clutter can certainly appear to shave them off when taking pictures. Avoid pictures of dingy corners or garish decor by thoroughly decluttering, polishing, and rearranging furniture as necessary to maximise the beautifying benefits of reflective surfaces and light. This way, you can be sure you’re displaying the full potential of every room.

Top Tip – Photographers are often tempted to use a wide-angle lens, which in some cases may mislead a viewer or make the room appear to have strange angles. Consider this fact when discussing the options on the day.

Shop for Props

Luxury homes in magazines elicit such desire because they have been expertly staged to hint at the lifestyle most people crave. No matter the size of your property, you can take a leaf out of these glossy publications and apply their style tricks yourself.

Here are some ideas for the different areas of your home that won’t break your budget:

Kitchen

Even if your kitchen isn’t fully bespoke, it’s always better to present it positively rather than avoiding pictures of it altogether. Help viewers imagine spending their days in the heart of the home by adding:

  • A wooden board piled high with rustic loaves of bread and delicious cheeses
  • Bowls of fresh fruit (strawberries, apples and limes work well)
  • Champagne and pastries
  • Flowers that chime with the home – wildflowers for a country farmhouse, or elegant lilies for modern properties

 Living Areas

While people enjoy spending family time in the communal areas of the home, avoid displaying an array of toys or sentimental items in your photos. Many potential viewers may also find evidence of pets off-putting because of the damage they can cause to floors, carpets, and other areas of the property. Instead, opt for:

  • Pillar candles
  • Fresh flowers
  • High-end magazines and coffee-table books

 Bedrooms & Bathrooms

At the end of a stressful day, we often want to unwind in our own private space. You can help ensure bedrooms and bathrooms seem warm and inviting by including:

  • Crisp, ironed sheets
  • Plump pillows
  • Fluffy white towels – for display only
  • Spa- and salon-quality toiletries

 Outside Space

Even small lawns or courtyards can exude charm, aided by:

  • Tealights or church candle lanterns
  • A flowering plant as a table centrepiece
  • Hanging baskets in bloom

Communicate 

You have likely lived in the property – No one knows your home as well as you do. By taking note of special features, attractive design elements, and favourite areas, you will have a useful brief to use as a reference point when discussing the upcoming shoot with your photographer.

Make sure that they receive a copy of the brief in advance to avoid confusion. It is also a good idea to request ‘lifestyle’ shots featuring your carefully chosen props, and ‘vignette’ photos that use doors and mirrors to frame key features or views attractively.

Time it right

Understanding the way your home presents on the compass will help you determine the best time of day to take certain shots. No one wants to see a gloomy exterior or a cold-looking garden, so your photographer may need to return in the evening to catch the sun to the front or rear of the property.

Be a co-producer

On the day of the photoshoot, make sure you are waiting in the wings to assist the photographer by removing distracting objects or adjusting the lighting. A good photographer will point out any potential obstacles for you to correct. Involving yourself in the process can reduce the chance of disappointment in the final result, so don’t be shy about getting stuck in.

Style to season

Spotting pics featuring flowers in full bloom in the middle of winter may make browsers question how long your property has been on the market. Autumn house hunters are also more likely to be drawn by a Yuletide scene than those who have just put the season of giving behind them and are desperate for sunnier days.

This may require refreshing your photos throughout the year to avoid giving buyers an excuse to put in a cheeky offer. 

Go pro

Don’t be tempted to cut corners. A real pro will take their time and understands the need for ambience and the best way to set up a shot. This will save you a lot of heartache in the long run.

 

Delegate to the Experts

If the idea of doing so much legwork has you in a tailspin, why not leave the details of marketing your property to the experts? At Sawdye & Harris, we pride ourselves on using a team of tried-and-tested professionals who will showcase your home to its absolute best. Call us for a chat on 01364 652652 or email us at katie@sawdyeandharris.co.uk to learn how we can help you sell your property the right way.

25Sep

If you’re a new landlord, established landlord or even thinking about becoming a landlord, a letting agent can help you manage the load. Here are six reasons why you might need a letting agent. 

Did you know that a third of the properties in the UK are rentals?  And a large proportion of those are managed by individuals, not agencies?  If you’ve inherited a house, or you’ve moved out of a flat but still own it, it’s more profitable to manage that property rental yourself, right?  

Well, yes… and no… 

Saving money by managing her property herself is exactly what Christine thought she’d do. Here’s her story:  

When Christine’s mother-in-law moved into a nursing home, Christine found herself with a house to manage. Luckily, her friend’s son Ben was looking for a home for his family, so it seemed like the perfect solution to have him move into the vacant house.  

Rent was paid on time, and the young family were happy in their new home. Until the month Ben lost his job and wasn’t able to pay the rent. Christine was understanding – after all, Ben was her friend’s son. But two months went by and still no rent. Ben stopped answering his phone, and so Christine approached her friend. After a frosty conversation, Christine’s friend arranged a meeting at the property. 

More bad news – Ben’s family had bought a puppy. Christine was shocked by the deterioration in the property over only a few months (she had been reluctant to make regular visits out of concern for invading the young family’s privacy). The dog had chewed at the furniture and door frames. The house smelled. 

Christine meanwhile was facing another problem; finding the payments for her mother-in-law’s care, which was dependent on the rental income from her home. 

Financially stressed and emotionally drained by the strain the situation was putting on her friendship, Christine called us and poured out her story.  

We contacted the tenant and kept a record of all our communications. Dealing with us in an official capacity, rather than with his mum’s lifelong friend Christine, we were soon able to work out a payment arrangement with Ben to recoup the debt. 

Ben and his family eventually moved out, but Christine didn’t have to bear the brunt of that situation – that was our job. We then found her reliable tenants, who were not pet owners and who we visited for regular maintenance checks. Christine is now earning a regular rental income without the hassle or heartache of day-to-day management when things go wrong. 

We know that managing your own rental can be a bit of a minefield, and in the majority of cases, you can avoid the landmines simply by renting your property via a professional letting agent. There are countless reasons to use an agency, rather than taking a DIY approach, and we’ve whittled these down to our top six reasons why you probably do need a letting agent to manage your property:   

1. We keep you up to date with legislation  

Legislation (the laws that govern letting) surrounding the rental market is forever changing.  

Even for those landlords with a head for figures and reams of paperwork, the waters of compliance can be murky mires to navigate. For new landlords, it can be quite daunting. No doubt you are currently compliant – but with constantly updated regulations to be aware of, it can be time-consuming keeping pace with the changes. 

For new landlords trying to juggle so many elements of property management, time spent on annual certificate checks and renewals is time that could be better engaged elsewhere. 

It’s not just landlords being kept away by legislation headaches; this paperwork poses problems for prospective renters too. They can find it more difficult than ever to pass the required checks.  

Save yourself the headache of trawling through Right to Rent legislation. Let us, as your letting agent, cross the ‘t’s and dot the ‘i’s for you.  

As letting agents, we have a legal duty to know the score. Particularly in regards to mandatory gas safety certificates, electricity tests and the like (which can result in fines if not kept up to date). 

We are just as liable as you are if something goes wrong and so compliance is a key focus for us. As letting agents, it is our job to ensure that you, the landlord, have all this documentation up to date. 

Let us share the weight of responsibility with you. 

2. We help you to free up your biggest asset…time! 

Whether you’re a long-time professional landlord and investor, or new to the letting game, time is money.  And when you’re not busy growing your portfolio, you deserve to spend time relaxing with the family. 

The last thing you need is the phone ringing at 4pm on a Saturday only for a tenant to tell you that their boiler has broken. Again. 

Don’t worry; as your dedicated letting agent, this task falls to us. Allowing your letting agent to step up and manage the day-to-day ups and downs a tenant encounters frees you up to focus on family. 

Spend your holidays sunbathing on the beach and splashing in the sea with loved ones? Or spend them tied up on the telephone to an out-of-hours plumber?  

Why not let your letting agent take this hit for you? 

3. We help you to free up your headspace for more important things 

Whatever your reason for becoming a landlord, it’s unlikely that it is because you enjoy tackling ants’ nests in tenants’ kitchens! (Trust us, it’s more common than you think!)  

Sometimes, it pays to work smarter, not harder. Handing over the day-to-day chores involved in managing a property to a letting agent frees up your headspace. Headspace that could be so much better used in other areas of your life. 

Whether you want to grow your property portfolio, or focus on business elsewhere; finding yourself in a muddle of paperwork, tenancy agreements and EPCs is a distraction. 

Focus your time on the things that are important to you – a good letting agent will free up your time and mind, so you can focus on the things that mean the most to you and your family.  

4. We help you find opportunities to grow your portfolio (if that’s what you want) 

We’re in the know! We know people who can help you to grow your property portfolio into an empire if that’s an ambition of yours. The best plumbers, electricians and handymen that won’t rip you off? They’re in our ‘little black book’. And because we work with them regularly, they tend to respond quicker and charge less to our clients, because they value the business we give them.  

And it’s not only tradesmen you need when you’re growing your portfolio – it’s also tenants and properties! We pride ourselves on knowing many of the tenants in our area personally, as well as the landlords. So, when someone is thinking of selling a potential buy-to-let property, we often get the nod before anyone else. And that makes us a very valuable source of insider information for you.  

So, whether you want to grow from one property to three, or from ten to fifty, you’ll love the fact we have someone to help you at every stage of your journey.  

5. Peace of mind 

Ask any landlord what their biggest concern is, they’ll undoubtedly answer the same -Maintenance.  

In point – the worry of whether your tenant is taking care of your property. This is particularly pertinent if the property holds sentimental value for you, for instance, a family home. For landlords who have moved away from the area or landlords with many properties, it can sometimes be a struggle to pay house calls. Property visits are essential for performing maintenance checks.  

As a landlord, you may not have the opportunity to visit your properties for months or even years at a time. Wouldn’t it be reassuring to know that your properties are being looked after and maintained to a proper standard? 

ARLA Propertymark letting agents bring with them the promise of peace of mind on this front. 

As your letting agent, we carry out regular, scheduled inspections of your property. During visits, we will also take photographs to send over to you, the landlord, for that added comfort. 

Letting agents provide reassurance in the first instance. But good letting agents also provide a way in which to troubleshoot potential problems early on.  

Take condensation, for instance, a huge problem in lettings. Left unchecked it can lead to black mould and damp. It can also lead to costly repairs paid for out of your pocket. Yet, caught early on, a simple conversation between your letting agent and your tenant can prevent costs. A simple lifestyle lesson can save thousands of pounds. Your tenant will learn to keep the window open when drying clothes indoors and you will save money. 

Spot early signs of damage to get repairs done where necessary before a crack becomes a crevasse. 

6. Regular rental income 

Managing a property can seem like a walk in the park when everything is going well. Your tenant pays on time and never misses; they even made you a cup of tea after you fixed the leak under the sink that time. 

Before you know it, you’ve developed a rapport. And then one month, the rent is late. Rent you are relying on to cover the mortgage payment or the care home fees.  

We understand how hard it can be to balance an approachable and considerate face (particularly when dealing with long-term tenants) with chasing payments. This can be of particular concern to those thinking about becoming a landlord for the first time. 

Separate yourself from the discomfort, anxiety and frustration of chasing rent arrears. 

Leave this task to the neutral middle-person; your trusty letting agent. With the personal element removed, our role will be proactive rather than reactive. And you will receive your rent on time. 

So, as you can see, a letting agent can save you time, money, headspace and heartache. Let us take the burden off your shoulders before you even notice the weight. 

With over 13,000 estate agents in the UK to choose from, the perfect partner is out there. But how do you know which one is the right fit for you?  

Contact me today for more information on how a letting agent could help you better run your business. Let us handle the now, so you can look to the future. 

Katie Griffin

katie@sawdyeandharris.co.uk

01364 652652

11Sep

Why buyers love home searching in autumn and how you can take steps now to be in your new home by Christmas.

In the blink of an eye, the trees are dappled in burnished reds and golds. That first waft of coal fire smoke garnishes the dusky sky. Dust off your autumn boots and dig out your gloves…September is here.

Summer brought with it the UK’s busiest month of house sales in a decade. Everyone agrees, the housing market is booming.

So, alongside crisp misty mornings and crackling log fires, what delights does autumn hold for sellers?

Over the last few weeks, we’ve taken calls from family buyers looking for larger homes. These guys like to buy in autumn, spring and early summer. If these times ring a bell (the school bell) that’s because they are term times!

We find that buyers with children tend not to house hunt during the school holidays. After all, when the sun is shining, ice creams at the seaside and outdoor escapades with the family beckon, leaving little time for viewing homes.

It’s also worth remembering how stressful viewing a home can be, with children who just want to be outside.

Instead, parents tend to wait until the children return to school, so they can view homes in peace. But there is more to it than convenience alone; psychology of space can come into play too.

As the days stretch out and it’s light until late in the evening, kids often spend much more time outdoors. Whilst their children are busy playing in the garden until the last glimmers of sunset fade, it’s easy for parents to feel their home is bigger than it is.

As a result, ‘upsizers’ tend not to feel as squeezed for space in the warmer months. After all, with the children outdoors, the house seems so much bigger. With more room to stretch out, a house move may not feel as urgent.

But as the nights begin to draw in, the house begins to feel crowded, meaning parents once again are looking for a change and a larger home in which to grow.

House hunters searching in September and October tend to be keener to make an early decision. After all, everybody wants to settle in ready to start enjoying their new home in time for Christmas. In fact, ‘a quiet and settled Christmas’ can be a real driving factor. Buyers are more motivated than ever to get the deal done.

With that in mind, let’s explore the top seven reasons why selling in September might be the best option for you:

  1. New school year = new start

The schools have gone back. At long last. For parents, it feels like a new year and a fresh slate. With the children no longer cluttering the decks, they can see things with clarity. They can also take steps to move on. School bags strewn in the hallway and cluttered desks in the evening add more impetus. New school year = new start. Where better for a new start than in a new home?

  1. Festive incentives

Ordinarily, buyers looking at property in September are keen to get moving. With Christmas on their minds, they want to have contracts signed and house moves completed well in advance of the festive season.

Adding to the festivities this year are the tax duty slashes from chancellor Rishi Sunak. Will the removal of stamp duty levies on properties below £500k light a fire within would-be buyers?

With plans for a pre-Christmas move supplemented by big savings, this excitement will no doubt drive them on.

  1. An empty home is a clean home

Does the prospect of keeping a home clean and tidy for viewings fill you with fear?

If you have a family, having the children out of the house and at school during the day is a big bonus.

An empty home is so much easier to keep tidy. This means you can prepare for viewings without the worry of your hard work being undone at every turn. No more painting of the Forth Bridge!

  1. Cosy September marketing

In September, your home is looking at its most warm and cosy, with lamps lit and the fire on. Never has it looked more welcoming and inviting.

Capitalise on the misty evenings and create a haven of comfort and cheer for house-hunters. A ‘twilight’ image during this season can showcase your home at its toasty best.

September weather may leave you feeling cold on the outside, but your home will be enticingly warm on the inside.

  1. Size matters in September

With the colder weather and darker evenings, homeowners often retreat inside. A home that seemed spacious in the summer months suddenly feels much smaller.

Children who fled to the garden and local parks to meet friends in the summer are now flocking home. Sometimes with their friends in tow.

All these ingredients provide motivation to move on and seek out a bigger house.

  1. Freedom to view at leisure

Not only is your home child-free in September – so are you! Harried parents trying to balance entertaining children with house-hunting are finally free. Free to focus on that essential task of moving home.

Now the schools have gone back, mums and dads are free to view homes child-free.

Free of distractions, questions and demands, parents are more relaxed. No need to rush through a viewing in a hurry, you are now free to view in a better frame of mind. Take the time you need to make a decision.

  1. September’s garden glory

Although you might not realise it, September is a great month for the garden.

No longer scorched by the summer sun, the grass is looking lush and green. Shrubs are beginning to display an autumn glow … your garden still looks lovely.

Even when the leaves start to drop, this can be a bonus, with views often improving. As well as the low sun providing a great backdrop for twilight photo shoots, it can also bathe the house in a lovely glow for early evening viewings.

As you can see, September can be a wonderfully successful time to sell your home! But following the summer surge in home sales, will autumn sales follow suit?

Rishi Sunak seems to think so; the Chancellor’s recent cuts to Stamp Duty now extend until March 2021 and with the Stamp Duty threshold raised to £500,000, less than 10% of buyers will have to pay any Stamp Duty at all.

If you would like to know whether your home would be a good contender for a September sale, we’d love to hear from you – call us for a chat on 01364 652652, or send us an email at katie@sawdyeandharris.co.uk. Whatever your plans, chatting them through in full confidence can help.

We’d be proud to be part of your moving journey.

08Aug

You know your home looks good. You’ve chosen your estate agent, the photographer’s booked and you’re ready to launch.

But is there something missing….?

Let us help you transform your home from ‘market ready’ to ‘market ravishing’ with our home styling tips.

So, what is home styling?

Home styling is ‘fine-tuning’ your home so a buyer can imagine themselves living there.

Did you know that home styling can boost the number of viewings you get? The Home Staging Association reports styled homes are likely to sell three times faster than non-styled homes.

Our six (and a half) simple styling secrets guarantee to give your listing that ‘show home sparkle’.

Styling Secret #1: Scatter cosy cushions

For a great styling secret that won’t cost you the earth, start with cushions and pillows.

Pillows and cushions feature in rooms across the house. Learn the psychology behind cushion placement to transform your home.

Bedrooms are places in which we sleep and living rooms are where we lounge, stretch out and relax. As such, styling pillows and styling cushions need different approaches.

Three is the magic number and this works throughout our styling tips.

In the bedroom, keep it simple and laid back. Layer three sizes of pillows and cushions for effect. Start with crisp white pillows at the back followed by a contrasting cushion at the front. On point for hotel-style glamour.

Buyers love easy, neutral tones in living rooms, so if you love colour, save it for your cushions and throws. And if you haven’t updated your cushions and throws for a few years, now might be the time to treat yourself.

Styling Secret #2: Bowl them over with fruit

Food for thought…why not influence buyers with bowls of fruit?

Apples are a winning choice for several reasons:

  • Cost – apples are a bargain fruit, selling for as little as 10p!
  • Freshness – apples tend to stay fresh and attractive much longer than other fruits. This means you won’t have to make extra shopping trips to freshen up your display. (Top tip – when not on display, store them in the fridge to extend their appeal by weeks).
  • Symbolism – bright reds and greens are more than eye catching; they also symbolise health and vitality.

Also try oranges, or lemons and limes. But keep to only one or two varieties for maximum style and impact.

Styling Secret #3: Freshen up with flowers

Keep it simple, fresh and in keeping with the character of your home.

Remember to keep things balanced when it comes to home styling. Decide between a bowl of juicy Granny Smiths and a vase of sunflowers, instead of both.

Choose the right floral display for each area. A hand-picked posy is perfect for a country kitchen. Tall, tasteful lilies add elegance to a large dining table. Don’t forget bedrooms too – a mini-vase on a bedside table with a small sprig of seasonal flowers is a lovely touch.

Top tip: make sure to snip off the pollen from the stamens. Not only will this prevent stains, but it will keep your lilies flowering longer

Styling Secret #4: Tasteful toiletries

Don’t have the funds for a big-budget bathroom makeover? Don’t worry. Why waste money you could be spending on your dream home renovating the one you are selling?

Accessorising your bathroom can be simple, low-cost and fun.

Cast some mood lighting with scented candles. Grouped in glass holders by the bath and in alcoves, this looks great. Ensure they are lit for viewings to create a soothing atmosphere.

Pack your regular toiletries away out of sight. Indulge in luxury versions, for viewings only. The White Company and Molton Brown are both brands that have viewer appeal.

Styling Secret #5: Fresh towels

Freshen up the whole bathroom with new towels. Treat yourself to a set of brand-new white ‘viewings only’ towels and ask the family not to touch.

Check out photos of hotel bathrooms for ideas of how to present your fluffy white towels. Rolled or folded both work well and add a styled feel.

Depending on the size of your bathroom, there are many options. In smaller spaces, drape a folded towel over the rail.

Larger bathroom with fitted-furniture? These look great with a pyramid of rolled flannels stacked on the shelf.

Remember to stick to the rule of three on heated towel rails. Large bath sheet, medium bath towel, small hand towel.

Styling Secret #6: Add a rug

Play about with rugs to emphasise different areas of your home’s open-plan spaces. Placing a soft, fluffy rug in a living area helps to create a sense of relaxation and comfort. A hard-wearing rug under a table can define a dining area. If your rugs have seen better days, it may be time for an upgrade. After all, you can take them with you to your new home.

Styling Secret #6 ½: ask a friend!

Invite a trusted friend to be your home’s harshest critic, and to walk around with you as if they were a viewer. What jars, or stands out for the wrong reasons? Are any areas wasted, or cluttered? Do any rooms smell less fresh than you’d like? Ask your friend to be blunt, because your viewers will be. Listen with an open mind and make the changes they suggest; it could win you the sale.

 If you want more tips on home styling, or are thinking about getting your home ready to go on the market, we’d love to hear from you – call us for a chat on 01364 652652 or send me an email at katie@sawdyeandharris.co.uk. Whatever your plans, chatting them through, confidentially, can help.  We’d be proud to be part of your moving journey.

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