It helps to have a private outdoor space, the best photographer, some original features and a pastel wall
Not so long ago, the most a house seller would do was tidy up the living room and bake a loaf of bread before a viewing. Now the rise of slick estate agencies, such as Stockholm’s Fantastic Frank and London’s The Modern House, means that many city buyers demand immaculately styled homes with chic interiors and perfectly coiffed gardens — or at least images that represent the ideal.
The rise of “property porn”, where individuals browse sales websites looking at beautiful homes with no intention of making a purchase, is proof that buyers’ tastes are more discerning than ever.
Even so, properties sell faster in some areas than others. Take Edinburgh and Glasgow, for example. This week research from the Post Office revealed that average properties in the two cities take 53 and 56 days respectively to sell — that is 25 per cent faster than last year. Only Bristol pipped them as the UK location where properties spend the least amount of time on the market.
Nina Skero, the managing economist at the Centre for Economics and Business Research, which produced the research for the Post Office, points to a surge in property prices. In Edinburgh, the 11.7 per cent price increase between 2015 and 2016 is only 1 per cent behind average growth in London. “Properties in Edinburgh are more expensive than in the rest of Scotland, so prospective buyers could not have afforded to get on to the property ladder if they had waited for prices to rise further,” Skero says.
Experts working in the city teams of Scotland’s top estate agencies echo the findings. They list recent examples of many city properties with similar attributes selling in less than a week.
However, a number of factors are considered less desirable to a Scottish audience. In the face of market volatility, those looking at top-end homes want certainty about what they are buying.
What sells well right now
Garden flats “Properties with outdoor space are in short supply in the city,” says Robert Carroll, the managing director of Mov8 Real Estate. In Glasgow a ground-floor flat with a garden is rare. Properties of this type in the Hillhead and Hyndland areas are in the greatest demand, and homes in Burnbank Crescent and Wilton Street frequently sell in a matter of weeks.
In Edinburgh flats with a private garden are only slightly more common, so developers are building contemporary homes to reflect the deficit. Flats with balconies are seen at developments at The Shore, near the Firth of Forth, and in Colinton, south of the centre, while conversions of grand period homes, such as Dunedin House, include roof terraces.
Good photography Good-quality photographs are crucial to creating a “knock-out” first impression. In an age where shoddy property photography is seized upon on the internet, it’s not worth taking the risk with an agency unwilling to send out a professional photographer for a larger property, or an experienced agent for a smaller one.
“We have found that the houses that sell within five days have high-standard photography, with good exterior shots and attractive, clean and tidy interiors,” says Caroline Young, a spokeswoman at Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre (ESPC). Our Scandinavian compatriots have set the bar higher — see Entrance Fastighetsmakleri for hygge-tastic Swedish properties.
Pale-blue interiors Neutrals have long held sway, but colour is making a return. Three homes listed by ESPC as its quickest-selling examples have pastel upholstery, stripped flooring and minimalist kitchens. Pale blues and greens work well as accent tones. Red or purple, however, are too divisive for many.
Original door handles New-builds are consistently outsold by Victorian and Georgian homes in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Even developers working on period mansion houses are careful to retain high ceilings, deep skirting boards and original quirks and recesses. Features should be unobtrusive and not compete with contemporary kitchens and bathrooms, which buyers look for in period homes. Addresses where this combination is common include Eton Terrace, Great King Street and Royal Circus in the capital, and Buckingham Terrace and Crown Gardens in Glasgow.
What doesn’t sell well
Half-furnished properties Potential purchasers find it hard to visualise living in a property if there is no furniture. “Properties that stick around are either overpriced or unfurnished,” says Andrew Riddell, an associate in Strutt & Parker’s Edinburgh city team. “Fewer buyers are looking for projects at the moment. Properties that have visibly big issues or are poorly finished and look cheap will stick.”
If you are selling an unfurnished home, consider contracting an interior designer. Many practices rent out beautiful furniture for short-term requirements.
Upgraded properties without their paperwork “Get organised in advance,” says Ben Fox, a director at the Savills Edinburgh office. “Make sure you have all the necessary consents and warrants to hand.” With top-end properties, where buyers are notoriously more cautious, retaining the paperwork necessary to pass on to a new custodian is essential. Two estate agencies gave examples of sales that fell through because a buyer could not be sure that work had been completed to the necessary standards, as a result of a lack of paperwork.