Tag Archives: viewing

“It’s all in the lighting”, as house doctor Ann Maurice says. The lighting you choose can make or break a colour scheme or a design idea, and lift the ordinary into the extraordinary.

In a climate where natural light can be short-lived and weak, it’s important to let as much as possible of this precious commodity into our homes. Pull back curtains and blinds, position mirrors adjacent to windows, and make sure they are spotlessly clean to really make the most of the light available. Any shiny surface, such as glass ornaments or chrome accessories will really shine near a window, and bounce light around the room.

Remember that the direction in which a window faces will alter the quality of the light; the light through north-facing windows, for example, will have a bluish tinge, and careful choice of décor will either enhance or combat this. So if you want a very cool-feeling room, painting walls bathed in this cold light in pale blues, or cool greens, will emphasise this fresh, calm atmosphere. A warm palette of terracottas, corals and caramels on the other hand, will combat this blue light, and give the room a warm, cosy feeling.

The right lighting for the right room.

The lighting you choose for each individual room needs to reflect not only the desired atmosphere, but also the practical use of the room. Here are some tips to help you make the right lighting choices:

Living room:

  • This is usually a well-used room, so make sure the general level of lighting is suitable for a variety of different tasks
  • Picking out a feature wall, or else an architectural feature such as cornicing, beams or stonework, with directional spotlight helps to create interest and drama
  • Any ‘hidden’ lighting, for example, under pelmets or behind cabinets, will diffuse the light and create soft uniform lighting
  • Use dimmers to change lighting moods
  • Highlight artwork and plants with individual lighting arrangements
  • Shades on floor, table and hanging fixtures will help soften the glare, and create pools of light
  • Display lighting can draw attention to collections or unusual objects

Dining room:

The lighting you choose for this area depends on your use of the room. An intimate space for entertaining small numbers of friends and family will have different needs to a more open-plan arrangement, perhaps off the kitchen:

  • The lighting in a family dining area should be kept relaxed and easy, with a good level of light, and many sources to create a consistent level.
  • To create a more intimate atmosphere, try hanging a large fitting, such as a chandelier, low over the table, so that a pool of light is created in the centre of the table, whilst the guests are in the dimmer light. This creates a very cosy atmosphere; just right for a small party of dinner guests.
  • Candles are another way of creating a special feel to the room; their light is very flattering to skin tones, so your female guests will thank you!
  • Candles placed near mirrors or by other reflective surfaces will make for really interesting light plays and shadows, and enhance the intimate mood.


Kitchens need to be really well-lit, with both overhead and directional lighting, for maximum functionality.

  • Overhead lighting is best served by spotlights, either ceiling sunk, or else on a bracket. This way the lighting is well-distributed, uniform and as free from shadows as possible
  • Under-pelmet lighting will light the worksurfaces and sinks so that the chef doesn’t cast a shadow over the food preparation
  • Special features, such as Agas or feature tiling, can be specially lit with directional lighting to enhance them and create interest
  • Shiny kitchen accessories, such as chrome kettle and toaster, will add to the lighting level by sparkling and maximising the existing light


  • Keep bedroom lighting low-level to preserve intimacy. Overhead lighting is best controlled by a dimmer switch, and lamps will make bedroom reading easy without raising the overall lighting level too much
  • Keep any wall lighting directed downwards to help create a calm, intimate atmosphere
  • Touch lamps are ideal for bedrooms, as they are so easy to turn on and off when you’re half asleep.

Bolder Lighting Ideas:

  • Lighting isn’t just for the interior – don’t forget the garden! At night, lights can help your garden become a whole new world of shadows and interesting shapes.
  • Lights these days are often pieces of art in themselves: try over-sized stone lamps in your living room, or huge, ornate multi-stranded light fittings over your dining table. Steer away from the traditional shapes and use lamps and light fixtures to really make a design statement.
  • Try replacing floor tiles with underlit glass for real impact in your kitchen or bathroom

Creative and thoughtful lighting can really transform the dullest darkest house: just think carefully about the mood you’re trying to create and the use for the room and plan accordingly.

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

Hello, Happy New Year and welcome back!

Have you resolved to sell your home this year? The market is certainly hotting up, and for the first time since the last peak, we’ve been reading headlines about gazumping. However, this activity is not widespread, and as so often is the case, seems to be confined to popular property hotspots. If you’re living in a more rural area, or a non-so-popular town, you may find that for sale boards go up then hang around for months, if not longer.

If you’re really dedicated to selling your house this year, you need to take decisive action. Here’s my quick guide to selling before Christmas comes round again:

1.    Rest from the market

If you’ve been trying to sell for quite a while without a break, do make sure you take one now. As a general rule, I would withdraw from the market for a month every three months or so. For example, market from January to April, then rest for a month. This can help prevent your house from becoming stale and also helps protect your property value, as properties generally lose up to 1% of their value for each month they spend on the market.

 2.    Change your estate agent

This simple change can make all the difference. Sometimes just a new approach is enough to refresh your marketing and target new buyers.

3.    Stage your home

Ask family and friends for their honest opinions on the way your house is being presented. Scour current home magazines for trends and accessory ideas, and if necessary, commission a home stager.

4.    Commission a professional photographer

One of the most important, yet underused steps in property marketing. A professional photographer can make your house look fantastic, and sometimes all it takes is getting people across the door.  A great image can do that for you.

5.    Only accept a brochure that does your home justice

It’s tempting to allow your agent to produce an ‘information leaflet’ on his desktop, but this will not put you above the competition. To really stand out and tempt a buyer to view your home, your brochure needs to really showcase your home. Photography, design, description and paper quality – they all matter enormously.

6.    Prepare a viewing plan

Take a trusted friend around your home and write up a viewing plan. This is a simple written list of what rooms to show in which order, and any comments or details about each room or feature you feel deserving of mention. Type this up and give it to your estate agent, if they are doing the viewings.  If you are doing your own viewings, practice, preferably with a friend who doesn’t know your home well. Even if you are required to show your home yourself to viewers, your agent should give you some help and guidance in this aspect, so get them involved too.

7.     Time your re-launch carefully

There are some times of the year when activity is traditionally higher, though this does depend on the market for your home. This post will give you more information, but in general, focus on selling in Spring, early Summer or early Autumn for the best results.

8.     Ask for help

If all else fails, why not give me a call? Ten minutes on the phone may just help you to understand what the issues are, and whether or not you can do something to improve the situation. Let’s make sure you keep to your New Year’s Resolution and sell your home!

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

It’s Friday and the last in my mini-series of learning from Andy Murray to help you sell your house! 

However on top of their game Andy is, if he wants to stay there, he knows he has to defer to his coach for advice and, well, coaching!  He has to put his total trust and faith in Ivan Lendl, and believe whole-heartedly that he has Andy’s success at heart, wanting the win as much as the player themselves do.  It must sometimes take a lot of courage and ability to overcome his own misgivings in following advice that might seem counter-intuitive, but he knows that without this faith, Andy would be on his own and success would almost certainly evade him.

If you’re trying to sell your home and it’s just not going very well – perhaps you’re suffering from a lack of viewings, and maybe you’re trying your best to resist pressure from your agent to reduce your asking price – you may be wondering what on earth you can do. That’s where HomeTruths comes in.  think of us as your personal property coach!  We ask you to put your trust and faith in us, and in return we will advise and coach you through what can be a very difficult and emotionally-trying time.  We’ll be there for the inevitable ups and downs, to tell you what to do when the feedback is less than flattering, or when you get a very low offer.  We will do everything we can to get you a sale at the price you want.  Sometimes, as I’m sure happens from time to time between Ivan and Andy, you might think we are wrong, that our advice is counter-intuitive, but stick with us, and keep the faith, and together, we’ll get you moving!

Andy Murray of Britain embraces his coach Ivan Lendl after defeating Novak Djokovic of Serbia

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

Fourth in my five-part series with the shamelessly contrived theme of Wimbledon! 

Andy Murray is exceptionally competitive.  To him, winning is everything.  Coming second is no consolation – it just means not winning.  He needs this competitive edge, this determination to win, in order to achieve success. He has to want it enough. Not only this, but he has to know his competitor’s game as well as they know their own. Only by completely understanding  the nuances, strengths and weaknesses of Djokovic’s game could Andy hope to beat him by being better, stronger and more creative.

How well do you know your competition?  Do you know what else someone looking in your price bracket can buy? You need to know what other homes are on the market that in any way could be your competition.  Look at their price in great detail, for example, what is their price per square foot, and how does that compare to yours?  What features are they offering? Is your conservatory equal in value and desirability to their pool?  Does your garden compete well against their paddock?

It’s difficult for a buyer to compare non-exact features such as these, as it’s like comparing apples with pears.  However, compare the houses is exactly what they will do, and they will make a balanced decision on which offers the better value, and the most house for their money.  Thus a young family will often choose a home with new fixtures and fittings over one with more space, but dated fittings; an older couple may well decide a home with two bedrooms and more character has more to offer them than a modern four bedroomed home on an estate. Consider carefully what your most likely buyer will look for, and give it to them.  And give it to them in spades.  Just like the tennis players, your game needs to be better, stronger and more creative, then you’ll beat the competition hands down. Just like Andy did.

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.


It was a blustery Sunday at the end of a chilly October afternoon as we crept slowly along the street peering at house numbers.  We had been viewing unsuitable properties all day, and were feeling a bit despondent, to tell the truth.  This particular house was our last viewing of the day, and we were looking forward to putting it on our “no” or “maybe” list as quickly as possible so we could head home.

“Here it is” said my husband, as he finally located the door number.  I looked at our list and sighed out loud.  The front photograph had made it look like the kind of home we had spent so long searching for: something rural, with plenty of space and a nice outlook.  This was practically on a main road, jammed up against its neighbours, and completely in darkness, looked frankly unwelcoming.

“It says in the details it has an outlook over open fields” I pointed out, looking for the positive.

“He’s late” my husband countered, pointing to the car’s clock.

“It’s 5 o’clock on the dot” I protested.  “Surely that means he could still be on time?”

We sat in silence as the green numbers flicked round: 5:01….5:02…

Finally, at 5.03pm a BMW came screeching round the corner, veered across the road and came to an abrupt halt within millimetres of our front bumper.  My husband shot me a look.  I ignored him, and got out of the car.

The estate agent who approached me looked like a Private Eye caricature: he was around forty, boasting quite a paunch, had slicked-back hair over a balding pate, and was wearing a too-tight suit that had never quite been in fashion.  His shirt was stripy, and his tie was floral.  They clashed, loudly, needless to say.

He approached me with vigour and an outstretched hand, grabbing mine in a handshake he probably believes is assertive and confident.  I pulled back my bruised fingers and stuck them in my coat pocket, making a mental note not to allow him a goodbye handshake.

Ignoring my husband, he instead strode up to the front gate, which was electronic apparently, and punched in some numbers from the scrap of paper he held.  The gate started to recede.  He marched through it and headed for the front door.  At this point he had not introduced himself, nor had he apologised for his tardy arrival.  My husband, who is not known for hiding his displeasure, was by now narrowing his eyes and clenching his jaw….not a great start, I thought.

After fiddling with several keys whilst we shivered on the doorstep, the right one was eventually located and we were let in.  The owners had mercifully left the heating on, and the warmth was a timely welcome.

Seeing that the carpets were extremely pale cream, my husband and I both reached down simultaneously to take off our shoes.  “Oh thanks for that” the agent said dismissively, then walked through the hallway without removing his.  My husband nudged me.  I nudged him back and followed the agent into the kitchen.

“This is the kitchen” he announced.  Very clever.  Not sure how he worked that one out.  Perhaps it was the kitchen units, the cooker and the sink.  But then I’m only guessing.  We watched him, curiously, while he started opening units and drawers.  “Ah, the fridge!” he said at last with pride.

I peered out of the kitchen window, to where I could just see the field behind.  “Is that the Common?” I asked.

“No” he replied.  “It’s a field.”

“Oh” I said. We went into the dining room, where the rather large table was pressed up against the wall, leaving no room for sitters on that side.  “I think our table is around that size” I commented to my husband.  The agent butted in: “Oh, isn’t that ridiculous?  Why do people do that?  It’s clearly far too big for the room!  They should have got a smaller one, or not bothered at all.”

“Quite” I agreed, with a not-so-subtle eye roll…….

In the little study, one whole wall was devoted to the owner’s collection of Wedgewood Beatrix Potter crockery.  “Oh how lovely!” I exclaimed.  “I used to have these when I was a little girl.”

“Hmm….not my kind of thing” said the agent.  I clenched my teeth.

At the end of the viewing, whilst we were putting on our shoes, the agent started telling us all about how his father had been a builder, and built in fact, our road.

“Fascinating” my husband muttered.  I stifled a giggle.  The agent it seemed hadn’t noticed anyway and was wittering on, regardless.

Finally, we were at the car, with his words “call me if you want to view it again” ringing in our ears.  About to pull away, my husband paused, transfixed by the agent’s punching the keypad for the electric gates, which were remaining stubbornly open.  He was clearly exasperated, and stabbed at the keypad a couple more times, before giving up, and leaving the gate open, got in his car and drove away.

“Bet the owners aren’t best pleased when they get home” said my husband.

“I’d be livid”  I agreed.  “Anyway, what did you think of the house?”

“I wouldn’t buy a packet of Polos off that idiot” he muttered darkly, and drove us home leaving me to ponder from the passenger seat, whether in fact some sellers are harming their chances of selling by employing estate agents that are, frankly, obnoxious? Maybe the owners have no idea about the lack of finesse this agent showed us on the viewing, having perhaps only had dealings with the efficient MD and the nice lady in the office, and are, in fact, totally unaware of the nature of the guy on the ground who actually does the viewings.

No matter how much we had loved the house, we just couldn’t get past this agent’s unprofessionalism, and offensive attitude. It completely tainted the house for us.

I drove past the house yesterday morning, and noted the sale board has changed to another local agent.  Perhaps a little birdy told them what was going on.  It wasn’t me.  Honest.

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

It’s very frustrating when you aren’t getting viewings.  I spoke to a lady recently who has only had one viewing in three years!  Even having your home for sale for a few months without a viewing is worrying. It’s normal to get an initial flurry of viewings in the first few weeks on the market, and for that interest to wane a little as the weeks and months progress.

But what can you do when viewings peter out altogether?  You know what your agent will advise – if they haven’t already.  “Drop the price” they will tell you.  So what else can you do to revive interest, other than dropping your asking price?

  1. Ask for your Rightmove Property Performance Report. This is data your estate agent has access to, inside the Rightmove console. If they are not using Rightmove, they will be able to access similar statistics within Zoopla, On the Market or Prime Location. Property listings with images and floorplans, that are updated regularly, have the best performance metrics on Rightmove and the other portals. The Report also shows the number of times your property listing was clicked on over the last 7, 14 or 30 days, together with a comparable against the previous period.  Additionally, this statistic can be compared against similar property listings on Rightmove, so you can see whether your property advert is competing well or not. A ‘similar’ listing is typically what a searcher would see alongside your property when they search on Rightmove, and therefore could be considered as your ‘competition’. If your home listing is not performing or competing well, it could be a strong indicator of the reason you’re not getting viewings on your house. Check your photographs – do they really show your home at its best, and are they up to date? If your outside images reflect a different season than the current one, ask your estate agent to re-photograph your house and garden. Then check your next performance report to see if your numbers have increased.
  2. Revisit your property description.  Firstly, draw up a profile of the kind of person you think is most likely to buy your home.  Age, status, motivation for moving, and so on.  Then write down a list of adjectives about your house that you think would most appeal to these target buyers.  Look at your property description – does it need rewriting to incorporate these key words? Your agent can help you with this. I’ve changed property listings in the past to better appeal to a family, or to someone looking for a change in lifestyle. Words matter, so make sure your written description best sells the primary features of your home, to the person most likely to be attracted to those features.
  3.  Commission a home stylist.  Often for less than £200 a professional home stylist will look at your home with a critical and unbiased eye and advise you on what you can do to make the most of your house: usually there is very little expenditure necessary, but small changes can make big improvements in attracting the right buyer.

Final thoughts

When you discuss your home’s saleability with your estate agent, explain that you’d like to improve the presentation and the marketing, before considering a price drop. Until those two elements of your home’s saleability are as good as they can be, you won’t be able to eliminate the possible reasons for the lack of viewings.

Happy selling!

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.


Dale Carnegie’s acclaimed self-help book How to Win Friends and Influence People published in 1936 still holds true today.  I particular like his Six ways to make people like you.  These are:

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
  2. Smile.
  3. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
  6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

They’re just common-sense really, and if you think about it, every estate agent in the land should learn and practice these six techniques when they’re showing viewers your home.  Let’s look at their relevance for making the most of every viewing, and if you don’t have any confidence in your agent showing a high degree of skill in this regard, then you need to make sure you do these instead:

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people – talk to your viewers, and find out all about them.  Where have they come from, what are they looking for, what other properties they’ve seen.  The more you discover about them, the more successful you will be at matching their needs to your home’s offering.
  2. Smile – be friendly!  Viewers will usually be nervous or apprehensive about the viewing; they are, after all, a guest in your home, and whilst they want to like the house, they are worried that they won’t.  A big, friendly smile when you greet them will immediately help them to relax and feel welcome.
  3. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language – if you don’t know their names in advance, make sure you shake hands and introduce yourself by your first name straight away.  Hopefully they will reciprocate, but if not, don’t be afraid to ask.  First names are best, and will encourage your visitors to adopt a more friendly and less formal approach that may help you to foster a good relationship with them from the start.
  4. Be a good listener – make sure you ask lots of questions and really listen to their answers.  It’s no good extolling the virtues of your vegetable patch if they tell you they work long hours, or telling them all about your paddock if they show no interest in using it; if you actively listen, you will be in a much better position to tell them about the features of your home that really matter to them.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests – use the word “you” as much as possible.  They don’t want to hear all about you and your time as the occupier: encourage them to think in terms of their future in the house. Saying things like “You could park at least four cars in this driveway” or “you’d love this house at Christmas” will help them to engage with your home and see it as their next chapter.
  6. Make the other person feel important – if you don’t connect with your buyers, chances are they won’t connect with you.  Make the effort to understand them, their hopes and dreams, and find something to like about them.  Finding some commonality really helps; perhaps you’re both dog lovers, or share an interest in a hobby or travel; whatever it is, once you find it and can have an engaging chat as you show them round, you’ll find they will become more open and friendly themselves.

Although Dale Carnegie I’m sure didn’t intend his Six ways to make people like you to be applied to selling homes, by following these guidelines you’ll make sure you give yourself the best chance to make a great first impression, and very importantly, to forge a good solid relationship with your viewer that might just tip them over the edge to becoming a buyer.

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.


Standing in my kitchen at home on a Sunday morning, peeling potatoes one-handed, generic smartphone in the other, I’m being subjected to a courteously-phrased but stinging tirade. My crime? I’m “not letting” a buyer view the house she’s just spotted on Rightmove until the day after the Royal Wedding.

If you’ve ever been in or around estate agency you’ll know that, once in a while, one of those houses comes up that would just sell itself in seconds. After stiff competition on a three-way valuation, I am the proud custodian of keys to just such a beast.

According to Mrs Polite-but-Miffed, many agents of her acquaintance will happily sell her a house without marketing the property (one wonders at this point why she hasn’t bought any of them) and this is the “expected and professional” way of doing things. Mrs PbM thinks I’m frustrating her in order to “artificially boost the price”.

I disagree. By delaying viewings, I have had time to organise clearance, cleaning, gardening and wait for blue sky photos. A RICS survey has been commissioned for the benefit of both seller and prospective buyers. Laborious newspaper advert deadlines don’t matter, tortuous Rightmove upload speeds are immaterial and the Easter hols are safely out of the way. Even our Facebook and Twitter clientele have been duly informed. By the time viewings start the house will be pristine, with every corner ready for detailed inspection. Unproceedable buyers will have had time to get themselves into a better position and my vendors should have a truly representative selection of prospective purchasers to choose from.

Is there an advantage to selling core market properties “off market”? If you’re the shy and retiring type, maybe you don’t want the world to know your business (although in my city, they already do!). Swift revenue generation for agents is a major plus and the chosen buyer is likely to think positively when picking the agent to sell their home the next time. However, should we be prioritising their interests over the sellers?

It’s still a buyers’ market out there but every home deserves a shot at maximum exposure. How many times have we heard owners say with glee that their house “sold to the first person through the door” and we’re thinking, yes but did you get the best price from the best buyer?

The answer, as always, is down to time: time for the agent to agree a proper marketing strategy with the owner, time to get details right and advertising prepared; time for buyers to do proper research rather than a quick flip through Zoopla, Mouseprice et al, and time for vendors to concentrate on maximising the saleability of their home.

Sadly, time is an increasingly rare resource in estate agency these days.

STOP PRESS: since writing this post, we re-launched the house, and our approach generated 28 viewings in 1.5hrs last Saturday. Another 9 viewings since, 4 revisits + 5 nosy neighbours – vindication of our technique I think, especially as we have already received asking price offers!

Carey Gilliand, estate agent in Bath (Madison Oakley)

This week’s guest blog is courtesy of the dashing Carey Gilliand. Apart from running my independent estate agent in Bath (Madison Oakley) with two partners, I am a local history buff, amateur photographer, proud father to two beautiful daughters and a keen gardener. For my sins, I have over 15 years experience selling homes across Bath & Somerset for both corporate and independent agencies.


If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.


“Why do you have so many hairbrushes?”, asked our good family friend yesterday, who is stopping with us for three weeks. I turned around to check what he was talking about and my eyes landed on a familiar yellow glass jug filled with at least 6 hairbrushes.

“Oh, we outgrew this house long time ago!”, was my reply. I think I proceeded by elaborating on when exactly we began to feel the lack of the living space…

Later that evening, when I was passing the ‘famous’ jug of brushes for a hundredth time, I suddenly paused recalling the earlier conversation.

That’s what came out of my introspection on this subject:

It is a weird place to keep the brushes!  It makes perfect sense to us to have everyone’s hairbrush stored in the corridor, so that you can get a final ‘hairdo check’ on your way out of the house.

Until recently, it was six of us sharing our well outgrown 3-bedroom house and I believe I started this jug purely for practical reasons: my daughters kept misplacing their brushes and we were getting out of the door later than we should be doing on most mornings.

Now, this jug is not a pretty and exciting décor piece. It is, however, a very noticeable piece upon entering our house. I would not go as far as saying that it creates a focal point, but it definitely cannot go unnoticed.

Except that we don’t notice it anymore. We reach for it and use it every single day. But the truth is…we only notice it when it’s no longer there.

Our homes are full of these ‘jugs’:  objects and scenes that are there for practical and habitual reasons. We are using them almost on autopilot. We are immune to them and hardly notice them. Having them where they are now makes perfect sense for us!

But what if a fresh pair of eyes catches the glimpse of these items? Would it make sense to them or puzzle and confuse them?

If it’s your home, you are free to have whatever you like wherever you like décor-wise. That’s your right! Use and enjoy it!

However, if you are trying to sell your property, you need to shuffle your stuff around to make sense (logical, aesthetical, emotional, etc.) for your potential buyer.

Just remember to be savvy about who to ask for feedback and how to approach the whole process of preparing your house for sale.

Let me give you my best tip:

Borrow a fresh pair of eyes! Professional home stagers are great. However, anyone with a flair for interior decorating who is open, honest, opinionated and is totally new to your house would be your second best choice (e.g. a work colleague you trust).

Even if your house has been on a market for a while, it’s not too late to get busy and creative to attract more viewings. If you don’t know where to start or simply don’t have time to do it yourself, consider inviting us to help you!

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.