….or have your garden gnomes lost their heads?
Read on to learn how to ace that very first viewing and have the tenants of your dreams clamouring to put down their deposit.
Frequently we receive calls from property owners asking us to visit and evaluate their house with a view to presenting it onto the letting market in Carlisle for the first time. Obviously, we’re always happy to pop around to share our advice and experience, bringing the camera ready for any potential marketing shots.
However, the disappointing fact is, that the camera so often remains in its case on these visits.
Why? You may ask. Well, because the property simply isn’t ready to appeal to anyone in its present condition. After all, it’s a very competitive market– so, if you want your property to be the one that gets great tenants clamouring to put down their deposit- read on for valuable advice, and ignore it at your peril!
Follow these simple steps to ace that very first, very important viewing: don’t worry- for every problem there is a solution…..
Parking. Is it easy to park outside your property?
- If your potential tenants find that they have to contend with your neighbours’ cars/vans/motorbikes/caravans in order to park – or even have to park three or four doors down then you are already rapidly losing points.
- They are picturing returning to the property with millions of bags of shopping, shepherding wailing toddlers in buggies and wearing high heels. None of these are good images in any potential tenants’ opinions.
What to do: park your own car in the best spot outside your property as early as you can before your tenants are due to arrive, then move your car 10 minutes before the viewing.
You may have to linger in the parking spot to ensure that no one nicks it before your potential tenants turn up, but that’s easy enough- get the brush out of the garage and pretend to be sweeping up dead leaves or whatever-it doesn’t really matter; just look busy. That way, there will be no worries about parking in your potential tenants’ minds before they’ve even walked up to the front door.
Now this is good!
The front garden/ path. Check that it is clear of toys and broken gnomes as nothing dampens a potential tenant’s spirits more than the sight of a headless gnome fishing in mossy, dried up birdbath.
And if they trip over an unseen obstacle on your path- perhaps a beaten-up bicycle or sleeping guard dog, then your viewing is doomed….you may as well conduct a ritual burning of your hopeful ‘To Let’ sign right now.
What to do: a few hours before the viewing, have a good scout around the front garden or yard in order to remove any items of tat.
Stick the heads back onto any fishing gnomes, or- better still- send them to landfill. Clear the path to the door- sweep it, and polish up the number or name of your property- take it from me: moss screams neglect, whereas polish gleams pride.
The doorbell.It’s funny how a broken bell gets people leaping to all sorts of negative opinions about the condition of the whole house.
If, when the potential tenants press your doorbell, it just makes a sad whine somewhere in the depths of the property, their faces drop and their eyes cast nervously towards each other; like they’re standing on the threshold to the most haunted house in Scooby Doo.
What to do: fix it, and test it.
Make sure the front door, and front step, is neat, clean and tidy. No weeds, and please- no plastic flowers in plastic pots- they’re just not very nice.
Noises within. As the tenants hover on the doorstep waiting for you to open the door, believe me, they will be listening attentively for noises within.
Every sense will be straining to discern sounds and make some hasty judgements. If they detect something lovely- perhaps Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’, or a little Vivaldi, well, that gives a great first impression: Ooh, this place is very posh! However, if on the other hand your potential tenants hear kids arguing, babies crying, dogs barking…..then they think: this place is a madhouse- we must escape quickly, while we can!
And when you open the front door you will see the dust settling on the road outside your house, and the scent of burnt rubber in the air. Probably your lovely ‘To Let’ sign will have tyre tracks over it.
What to do: a good hour before the viewing send the family out, to the park, to McDonald’s, to Grandma’s- anywhere really, and make sure that they take the dog.
Then, a few minutes before your potential tenants arrive, put something gentle on the radio.
Something which says’ this home is a sanctuary of peace and calm- you will be safe here.’ Even if there are beads of sweat escaping from your hairline from all the frenzied vacuum cleaning you’ve just finished. Oh- on that note- don’t forget to wear deodorant….see below-
The first step inside the property. Think: smells. That’s what your potential tenants are noticing- see how their nostrils are flaring and their eyes are darting around? That’s what they’re checking out.
If you notice that their noses are particularly twitchy that is not a good sign- they have convinced themselves that they have detected something bad in there; something in the unseen depths of your property. Their senses will be working overtime: what is that? Dog/ cat? Urine? Oh my God!
What to do: this one is tricky, because no one smells your house the way that you do.
You’re accustomed to the smell of your place, but no one else is. Here, you’d benefit from someone who is on your side, but has no tact whatsoever.
This may be where your mother comes in. Ask her what she can smell in your house, and, believe me, she will tell you. Then you know what to work on, and which smells exist in your house and need to be eliminated before your potential tenants detect them, and walk away.
The living room: such an important room- a deal-maker or deal-breaker!
- While your potential tenants’ eyes are scanning the room they are taking everything in: the quality of your fireplace, paintwork, papering, curtains, flooring- the lot. Their preoccupied expressions means that they are silently making calculations: how much did they spend on that? When was that last replaced? When was that wall papered?
This is the moment when you will see cobwebs that you didn’t ever see before and a stray sock peeping out from under the sofa.
You will suddenly realise that you haven’t emulsioned the walls for a few years and the shame will hit you like a truck.
Perhaps, for the first time in years, a large house spider will emerge and dash across the floor and hike up the curtains. Or, worse still, up your potential tenant’s trouser leg. When this happens, you know for sure that it is all over. You may as well show them the front door with as much pride as you can muster, because you know that you and your house will be the subject of so many side-splitting stories in the pub for years to come.
What to do: in the days before the viewing, buy some emulsion and paint as many walls as you can manage and afford.
Believe me, the smell of fresh paint is like musk to a potential tenant: it speaks new, clean, fresh, pride: look at all the trouble the owner has gone to make sure that we feel welcome in this property! Just look how special we are!
Next- clean, clean, clean…clean everything!
Potential tenants simply love the smell of clean- they love everything about clean- they’ll tell you themselves- you’ll win so many points on their score sheets that it’s definitely worth the effort.
The kitchen. Beware- for many potential tenants, the kitchen can be the most significant area in the whole house- yes, the very beating heart of the home!
- Think: clean. Are the worktops clean? Is the fridge clean? Yes- they may well look in there, is the hob clean, is the floor clean, is the cooker clean?’
‘Clean’ is the buzzword here, and you’ll hear your potential tenants vocalising their judgement on your levels of cleanliness – you need to listen out for it, because if they don’t say how lovely and clean your kitchen is, then that often signals that they think it is dirty, and that equates to certain damnation in letting your house terms.
What to do: a good two or three hours before the viewing, send the family out- yes, again- and make sure they take the dog, because you want to hide his dog bowls.
Yes, I know, a dog has to eat, but some people are very sniffy about dogs eating in the kitchen- so it’s best to hide any signs of dog inhabitation in your house until the viewing’s over.
Then- you guessed it- clean- yes, clean the hell out of the place– even inside the oven, because you won’t believe how many people actually look inside the oven when they are viewing a property to let.
Then, when you think it’s clean, ‘phone up your mum and ask her to have a look and see what she thinks. Then you’ll need to clean again, but at least you’ll know then that your kitchen is as clean as a kitchen can ever be, and no potential tenant can honestly say otherwise.
The bathroom. Dear property owner, beware of the many evils which may lurk therein:
patches of creeping damp on shower curtains, crispy toenails lodged in the bathmats, crunchy dead spiders suspended from webs in the corners……
Oh, the horrors!
And, believe me, nothing, yes, nothing, will escape the inspection of the potential tenants as they sweep the room with their discerning and critical gaze. Their eyes will poke into every corner of the room as they fire questions at you: does the fan work? Does the shower work? Is the water pressure good? Does the toilet have a good flush?
What to do: you must be able to answer yes to all of those questions to have any chance of success on the potential tenants’ score sheet.
. A muttered response of ‘I’ll get it fixed’ will be met with scorn and resignation- they will curl their lips disparagingly as they head for the door.
You must strive for nothing less than a judgement of ‘spotless ‘ from your mother in this particular room, in order for it to be ready for viewing by your potential tenants- nothing less than that will suffice.
The back garden/ yard. Now, this is a place where dreams are created or destroyed.
- Here, you need to sell your potential tenants the dream of relaxing and having a good time; whereas the house is functional, the garden/ yard is somewhere just for fun.
You need to convince your potential tenants of the enormous potential for unbridled happiness in that space. The buzz words you need are: barbecues, sun trap, garden furniture, relaxing, and ‘somewhere to play’ if they have children.
Here, your aim is for your tenants to start looking a bit wistful and dreamy: you want them to smile and to drift off into fantasies about summers to come; the smell of sausages on the grill and Stella Artois out of the fridge. Endless blue-skied afternoons……
Not the grim reality: dead flowers in broken pots, long grass, dismembered dolls; tangles of broken bikes and dog…droppings.
What to do: as soon as the viewing is confirmed- get out there.
Cut back wild hedges and shrubs, cut the grass and clear up anything which is messy. Go to Asda/ B & M’s, or somewhere else which is reasonably priced- and – shortly before the viewing so that no pigeons/ seagulls etc. can perch there- set out a garden table and a couple of chairs.
Flower pots are definitely a good investment, and you might wheel out your barbecue, to help to set the scene.
Here, you are aiming to stage the best possible scenario your back garden/ yard can offer. Solar lights are great- in fact, any sort of strings of lights are good- just something to suggest to your potential tenants that this is a lovely and relaxing place to be.
Sell them some dreams: tell them about all the wonderful times you have enjoyed out there and you should be rewarded by seeing them smile at each other a bit soppily.