Once you have the made the decision to sell your house it is worthwhile taking time to prepare your home for the market as first impressions for a potential buyer are all important.

If you have lived in your home for several years, it is a good idea to spend time seeing if you can declutter by removing personal items, excess furniture and anything that makes the space look crowded. Do have a spring clean throughout so the house, including windows, looks clean and fresh.

Have a look at any minor repairs that you feel need doing, a well-maintained home gives a positive impression. You may wish to consider staging to showcase the best features of your home, well placed furniture and décor can help buyers visualise the potential of each space. Kitchens and Bathrooms are often focal points for buyers, ensure that they are clean and well-lit.

Buyers will often look at storage spaces, so do organise your cupboards and storage areas to make them look as spacious and well maintained as you can. Lighting is important, natural light is preferred, open curtains and blinds for viewings, a room can look more welcoming with sun light streaming in through clean windows.

If you feel there are certain rooms that would benefit from a coat of paint, then redecorate, use neutral colours to appeal to a broader range of buyers. Prior to viewings it is worth eliminating unpleasant odours in the home, such as cooking smells, which can be off putting. If your home has energy-efficient features, make sure to highlight them, mention upgraded insulation, energy-efficient appliances or solar panels.

Initial impressions matter, enhance your home’s kerb appeal by maintaining the lawn, trimming bushes and shrubs and if required adding some colourful flowers. Clean the exterior of the house, consider areas that may benefit from power washing to give a fresh appearance.

Look out all necessary documentation relating to the house, so that once a sale is agreed these can be handed to your solicitor without delay. You may wish to instruct a solicitor prior to a sale being agreed to speed up the process.

 

We all know the cliché that location sells, but just as important in this market has been the quality of housing stock. With the cost building materials on an upward spiral over the last couple of years and longer waits for the availability of skilled tradesmen, many buyers have thought twice about taking on projects and we have found that ‘turnkey’ properties have proved increasingly popular. The case for a combination of the right location and good quality homes has therefore become a compelling one.

One such example was Field House in Barkers Hill, Semley. The owners had been known to us for many years and we had been fortunate enough to have sold properties for them before, so we knew what to expect when we arrived for our initial visit.

Field House was not a large property. It was under 2,000 sq ft, only had three bedrooms and the sitting room and kitchen were of a relatively modest size, but this particular house was a little gem.

“You were super helpful and efficient when selling our Dorset cottage. Thank you! Would highly recommend Rural View.” LK 2023

The property had been acquired some eight years previously, very much as a project and needing plenty of vision. The result was just dazzling. The clever thing about Field House was that everything about it complemented in an immaculate style that every single viewer simply fell for. It wasn’t over the top or glitzy, just very, very fine and it was a joy to sell.

The attention to detail was intrinsic to the product, from colour selection and soft furnishings to fittings and layout, but perhaps what gave buyers the most confidence on arrival was that very first impression of a good quality renovation. Everything about it, including the stone and brickwork, bespoke windows, hard landscaping and neatly shaped shrubs conveyed diligent care and flawless taste.

This recipe is one that will appeal in any market. An exceptionally good house, placed in a peaceful rural location with far reaching views and nothing to blight it. That combination of location and quality was irresistible to those who viewed Field House and within days of competitive bidding, a sale was agreed at a healthy premium to a delighted buyer.

Downsizing to a more practical and convenient property is a decision that most people must make at some point. It may be that you are in a remote location, too far from facilities or family, or perhaps you are rattling around in a substantial house that’s now too big for your needs and becoming a burden to look after. It may be that the children have just fled the nest, prompting a desire for a change of scene or the need to release capital.

For many this can be an emotional time and the whole process appear terribly daunting, especially if you have been in your house for decades.

There are initial steps in the downsizing process and having helped many clients with this particular type of move, we can share some of these with you.

The first task is to decide where you want to move to and what sort of house you would like to live in. Ask yourself searching questions: do you want to be closer to your children or friends, in a town with amenities on your doorstep or in a village with facilities and a good bus route? Are your priorities to do away with stairs, having less maintenance to worry about or preferring a more manageable sized garden?

Having pinpointed these requirements, you obviously need to do your sums. The starting point is for us to provide realistic advice on what you can expect your house to sell for and the costs involved in the moving process. You can then factor in how much capital you might want to release and the net result will provide you with an idea of what you can afford to spend on your next purchase.

Armed with this knowledge, you can start to look out for specific properties. Although at this stage you may not have put your own house on the market, it’s sensible to get your eye in on value and to visualise the sort of space that you can expect to go to. However, do bear in mind that few sellers will take your interest in their homes seriously until you are in a position to proceed with a purchase.

It is never too early to start de-cluttering. It can be extremely cathartic, but some find that one of the most emotive things about downsizing is deciding which pieces of furniture and possessions they are able to take with them. You may have collected and inherited a huge amount over the years and family members might not be able to take your things on, so you may have to be ruthless and call in the local saleroom to help.

Gradually, the process will begin to look less daunting and the light will suddenly appear at the end of the tunnel. Many people take years to finally make the decision to downsize, but once you start the ball rolling, it’s amazing how the rest falls into place.

Our role is to help our clients move and there is no one-size-fits-all solution, but we are here to offer bespoke advice on sales strategy and timing as much as being a shoulder to lean on throughout the process, so if you are thinking about downsizing, do call us in at an early stage for an initial and discreet chat.

Despite all the doom and gloom in the press, Rural View Prime had a record year for country house sales in 2023 – primarily in the £1,000,000 – £4,000,000 range. The negative news stories by property pundits have generally focused on discussing the UK’s average house price circa £300,000 which is of course a very different market and one much more impacted by the higher interest rates. However prices have softened across the board by at least 5% for the best and in other cases 10% +.

The Ukraine & Israel wars, high interest rates along with economic/political uncertainty do prey on the minds of would-be purchasers. However, we live in an incredibly beautiful and fashionable area with wonderful open spaces, rolling countryside and low housing stock. It is this imbalance of supply and demand which keep prices strong and encourages buyers to invest, where debt ratios are low and “cash remains king”. London based buyers continue to gravitate west, although perhaps not in quite the same numbers as the previous two years. The schooling locally in both state and private sectors is ever popular and our road and rail connections offer great flexibility.

One of the key themes to 2023 was our success with private sales. During the year, 70% of our prime sales took place off market, which is an incredibly high statistic. Why is this you may ask? Increasingly vendors and buyers are gravitating towards this option preferring their property not featured online.

Overall, we are positive about the prospects for the country house market in 2024 as the economic situation gradually improves and the impacts of higher interest rates are gradually absorbed. It could be an early market next year, but it will always be weather dependent and a cold/wet spring can put the brakes on! It’s uncertain exactly when the general election will take place but history tells us that buyers often “sit on the fence” in the month leading up to this causing a temporary pause. Preparation is always key, so make sure the hedges and edges are neat and tidy and you have good sunny photos if you are contemplating a move! We look forward to being of any assistance.

The post-Covid frenzy for buying in the country was a phenomenon that spanned a good eighteen months, showing a marked inflation over that period of some 15% – 20% in Wiltshire, Dorset and Somerset (Land Registry Index), although many of the properties we sold demonstrated an improvement even on this figure.

By the middle of 2022, however, mounting energy costs together with inflation and rising interest rates led to a calming of what had been a frenetic market, with some of the ‘froth’ coming off the top. It remained busy over the summer months until the infamous ‘mini budget’ at the end of September 2022 led to an unsettled period with trading levels slowing down drastically and prices falling back some 5% – 10% from their previous highs.

During the early months of 2023 a long, wet winter held back the traditional spring market but it eventually budded. In comparison to other regions, this part of the country was cushioned by continuing demand for character homes in the best locations and, with an ongoing lack of supply, prices were underpinned for those top properties.

Over the summer & autumn months of 2023 Rural View had a particularly successful period at the upper end of market, selling many country houses and with most attracting strong competition. 70% of these sales were conducted off market.

The economy showed early signs of recovery during the second half of the year and confidence in the rest of the housing sector gradually returned, with activity levels improving over the autumn and early winter months. Stock levels were certainly down throughout 2023, but we found that there were still plenty of serious buyers.

Looking forward to the twelve months ahead, the crystal ball is somewhat cloudy. At the time of writing, mortgage rates are falling and the hope is that the base rate will come down as well. We are already seeing improved sentiment in the buyers that we are speaking to, which fills us with confidence, and our thinking is that 2024 will be a much less volatile market with prices remaining stable. We expect our region to continue being an attractive destination for buyers drawn to its beautiful countryside, excellent schools and quality of life, and we hope to see a gradual upturn in overall market conditions as the year progresses.

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