“You had me at hello!” says a lovestruck Renee Zellweger in the famous line from Jerry Maguire. This feeling of falling instantly in love – when you know you know – can be just as true for houses as it is for people. It’s not uncommon for buyers, when seeing a house for first time, to have an immediate and overwhelming sense that this is the home for them.
And no wonder there are such strong feelings involved. Buying a house comes with much more emotional weight than any other investment we make. A home is a sanctuary from the outside world, somewhere to feel safe, bring up a family and maybe even an investment that might give you a decent chunk of money one day.
If your house is no Tom Cruise, don’t despair – there’s still an awful lot you can do to make buyers fall in love with it. And it won’t surprise you to hear that a lot comes down to making a great first impression.
The science is clear: studies dating from the forties right up to the present day are conclusive about the power of the “primacy effect”. This is a psychological phenomenon which means the first things you see are by far the most powerful.
So, being practical, this means that the entrance to a house is the most important: your garden, entrance and hallway are probably the best place to start if your home is in need of a spruce up.
Make sure that nothing outside is broken or dirty. Does your doorbell work and does the gate open easily? Jet washing paths and killing weeds might be an afternoon’s work but could mean your house sells much quicker. And, if you’re lucky enough to have a front garden, make sure the lawn is tidy and mowed.
As we move into spring, a couple of hanging baskets or big tubs of flowers can transform the entrance to your house. Plus there’s the advantage that you can take them with you to your new home, when you leave (as long as you tell your buyers that they’re not included in the sale).
Inside, tidy up wellies and clutter that tends to accumulate in the hall – a few wicker baskets can hide all kinds of mess – and move letters and papers to another room.
A little bit of TLC now will go a long way in helping your house to catch someone else’s eye. And, very soon, you might be falling in love all over again with somewhere new!
- 13 February 2019