>Cleaning house

Q.        My house is well maintained and (generally speaking) pretty clean and tidy. Is there anything else I can do to enhance its appeal when people come to view it?

A.         Basically, we’re talking about ambience. This can be very important, because whether we realise it or not, we are all sensitive to the “feel” of a property. At the same time, it’s worth remembering that buyers are pretty savvy these days – they’ve probably read the same blog posts as you - so they’re unlikely to be fooled by some of the more obvious clichés, like vases of flowers crammed into every conceivable nook and cranny, or cheap tricks like dishes of vanilla essence placed in a warm oven to fake the smell of fresh-baked cakes.

In fact, it’s generally the simplest and most obvious things that have the most impact. For example, studies show that people react more positively to properties that are brightly lit. So, during the day, keep curtains wide open and windows clean. At night, switch on all the lights, making sure that there are no blown bulbs or flickering fluorescent tubes.

Next, sound. Personally, I always consider that the best and most restful way in which to view a property is in complete peace and quiet - although again, some people simply can’t resist putting on a little light classical music, in the belief that this helps create a calm atmosphere. And maybe they’re right. Either way, you should certainly try to avoid any loud, jarring noise. And make sure that the TV is turned off for the duration of the viewing.

Talking of loud noises, it can also be worth mentioning to your neighbours that you’ve got someone coming round to view your home – particularly if you know they are planning a bit of DIY. Even if it’s coming from next door, the sound of a hammer drill can be a trifle off-putting!

Lastly, smell. This has more impact than you might think, and it can work either for or against you. As with sound, I always think the best smell is the essentially neutral aroma of a good, clean home – particularly important in kitchens and bathrooms, of course, but equally so if you have pets. Simply masking unpleasant odors with chemical air fresheners is no substitute for a serious springclean!