How to Prepare a Property to Sell – Money Saving Tips

Spend money before sale only if it will add to the sale price or improve selling prospects.

When preparing a property for sale only spend money if doing so will:

  1. Increase the purchase price of the property
  2. In some other way make the property significantly more attractive (for example make it sell faster)

Spending money on an existing property reduces the pot of money available to spend on a new property.

Certainly there are some things that we’d recommend are worth spending money on:

  • Tidy the garden
  • Clear obviously choked gutters
  • Replace missing / dislodged roof slates and tiles
  • Service a Boiler (See “Boilers” below)
  • De-clutter, tidy and clean (including windows)
  • We’re not “home stagers” but we’d even suggest storing any furniture that is not “aspirational”

As a general rule of thumb, repair or make good things that, untended, could give the impression that the property has not been cared for.

Remember that everyone likes to put their own mark on a property when they buy it or move in (we all do it, even animals do it!). Recent research revealed that new homeowners spend on average £5,570 on a new home. Why, therefore, pay a tradesperson to do work that a new owner is going to pay another tradesperson to do again / undo?

What about 3‘s on a Home Report?

You may be concerned that receiving category three ratings will affect the interest of prospective buyers or reducing the value.

One can, of course, address the issues that receive a three rating then have a Home Report refreshed. However, doing so is likely to be time consuming (usually people are keen to get their houses on the market quickly once they have decided to sell) and costly.

We’d suggest being prepared rather than panic buy a tradesperson’s services:

  • Find out approximate costs for putting right the “supposed” defect.
  • Negotiate over the sale price with prospective buyers (at viewing stage) using this approximate cost.

Remember that a Home Report is a superficial survey carried out by a lender. The main criticism (by all sides in the debate about the value of Home Reports) is that they are not thorough enough. A private survey arranged by a borrower (the buyer) would be far more in depth and probably give a more accurate valuation than a lenders report.

What things MIGHT be worth spending money on?

Electrical (Including Fuse Boards):

  • A Home Report may suggest replacing a fuse board or even saying the whole electrical installation needs replaced (Sockets, wires switches).
  • If replacing a fuse board be aware that a modern fuse board may “highlight” (by tripping) a series of other minor issues in an old electrical installation. This can lead to further costs to have these repaired.
  • If the full installation does need major work we’d recommend letting prospective buyers know rather than undertaking the work yourself before selling.
  • Perhaps a prospective buyer may be looking for a “project” and where you choose to position sockets, lights & switches may not suit them.
  • Keep in mind that the cost of the rewiring is just a part of such costs, redecoration, flooring & plastering may also be needed.


  • If a boiler needs to be replaced be aware of the conflict of interest between a seller – who will want to spend the least amount possible on a boiler they will never use – and a buyer who will spend more to ensure 10 trouble free years of instant hot water and heating.
  • Leave a boiler replacement to the buyer, they may even want to move it to a new position.
  • We recommend servicing a boiler (and ideally having an annual service history for a boiler). It’s one of the things that shows a buyer that a property has been cared for.

Painting & Decoration

  • Don’t do it!…unless a room / wall is:
    • decorated in a way that might put a buyer off; aim for neutral / off white colours
    • heavily marked or damaged i.e. in a way that will make prospective buyers think that the property has been neglected.
  • Decorating is usually something a new home owner expects to do and (as mentioned above) allows them to make a property their own.

Bathrooms and Kitchens

  • Don’t do it!….(Other than cleaning till what’s there shines)
    • Tastes and preferences of buyers are rarely likely to match those of sellers.
    • Sellers will want to do a budget make over, buyers want a bathroom / kitchen to their specification.
  • Certainly do all you can to make the kitchen look spacious and uncluttered

Carpets and Flooring

  • As with decoration, if flooring is well past it’s best or smells of pets it can make a property feel uncared for. It is probably worth spending a little money.
  • Carpets and vinyl flooring are relatively inexpensive. Broken floor boards should be replaced / repaired. Avoid getting into significant refurbishment of laminate, hard wood or tiles.
  • Go for carpet cleaning rather than replacement. Even a very old worn carpet can be rejuvenated by a good carpet cleaner.

Arrange a visit from a trades person or contact HomeForce for advice: