Studies suggest it only takes eight seconds for someone to decide if a new property is for them, and most of us can recall a place we either fell in love with at first sight, or decided instantly that it was never going to work out.
Of course some houses are so picturesque that they’ll attract people no matter what state they’re in, but don’t despair if yours isn’t one – every landlord can take control over how strangers will react to their buy-to-let pride and joy. So if kerb appeal and great first impressions is what you want your property to have, just follow these tips.
1. Sort out the front gate
Does it need a repaint or the hinges oiling? No tenant wants to be met with a shabby gate, so spend an hour or two to bring it up to scratch again.
Avg.Cost: £10-20 for a tin of paint and some oil.
2. Tidy the front garden
This is important, as any mess or rubbish in the front area will turn many prospective tenants off before even reaching the property. Keep any grass neat, trim the bushes and touch up any old and tired paintwork on the garden walls.
Cost: This should really only cost you around £20 for a can of masonry paint (if the garden wall needs it) – the rest should be easily accomplished on a Saturday afternoon with a bit of effort!
3. Paint the front door and update the door furniture
Don’t risk turning people away at this early stage.
Cost: Spend around £15 on a brush and a nice colour of gloss, £20 on a new number, doorknocker and letter box, and enjoy the result when the door looks shiny and new again.
4. Clean the windows
Often overlooked but important nonetheless; grimy windows are never a good look!
Cost: A couple of pounds for a decent can of window cleaner, and an hour or two getting busy with a cloth.
5. De-clutter hallways and empty bins
If the property has only recently been vacated and it’s fully furnished, then make sure the hallway is clean and above all free of clutter. Less is definitely more, and the odd mirror doesn’t hurt either to brighten up the entrance and convey a sense of space. Oh, and take a minute to empty any bins inside or out; you’ll be sorry you didn’t!
6. Lamps and candles are always a winner
These days, large white candles and simple, neutral table lamps are so cheap that you can afford to employ them anywhere in your property, and the truth is that you can’t really go wrong with them when it comes to ‘dressing’ the place.
A lamp or two in each room, a few candles near the bath or on window sills – these all give a little sense of style that will turn no-one off, yet subtly attract every viewer.
Cost: £50-£70 should get you a few simple, stylish lamps from any supermarket’s homeware section, with enough cash left over to buy a nice candle or three.
7. Add some greenery, no matter how small the outdoor space
Stop wishing you had a bigger garden; even a window box or two can lift the outside of your property and make it look loved. Garden centres sell plastic ones for less than the cost of a couple of lattes these days, and the plants to fill it are surprisingly cheap too. Box hedges can set off the front of a house, or for little apartment balconies try a couple of planters.
Cost: Depends on how much you want to spend, but even just £50 will make a huge difference.
8. Clean those carpets
Bit of a vital one this, for only the most desperate tenants are going to want to rent a place with stained, grubby or otherwise nasty carpets – it’s a major no-no.
Assuming they’re intact and merely need cleaning, then it shouldn’t take much to bring them back to life. If not then you might consider swapping the worn carpets in the communal areas like the hallway and lounge for laminate flooring and keep the carpets for the bedrooms.
Cost: £100-200 for a good clean and around £600-900 to laminate the common parts, depending on size.
9. Swap those tatty curtains for blinds
Just as more and more rental properties these days have laminate flooring rather than carpet, so too do most buy-to-lets have blinds rather than curtains, and they tend to stay better looking longer. It goes without saying that all blinds should match when seen from the street or driveway, so make sure yours give the right impression.
Cost: Simple, neutral blinds can be bought for £30-50 per window.
Article by Declan Curran is the founder of HomeFix Direct – the London-based property repairs and maintenance company.