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Selling your house quickly

Showing potential buyers around your house can be a nerve-wracking business. Ideally you want them to look around, declare it perfect and go straight to the estate agent to put a deposit down. Instead, you may have two or three viewings by the same person, only for them to seize on one small detail as a reason to keep looking. Homebuyers (as opposed to buy-to-let investors) are a notoriously emotional lot and the smallest details can affect how they feel about your house, slowing down the sale. With this in mind, here are our top ten tips for making your house attractive to buyers...

1. Pay attention to the exterior.

Most buyers will drive or walk past a house they are planning to view so the exterior is important. Pay attention to the gutters, window frames and the condition of the front door. If you have a garden at the front, make sure that grass or hedges are neatly trimmed and all dead leaves and clutter (bikes, children's toys etc) has been removed. And remember: gaudy gates, wishing wells and garden gnomes can stop a buyer getting out of the car at all.

2. Make your hall inviting.

Warm neutral colours, a small vase of fresh flowers and a mirror will give the impression that your home is well cared for.

3. Depersonalise your house.

Buyers have to be able to imagine living in your house, so you need to make it as little like 'somebody else's home' as possible. This means stowing away family photographs, collections of ornaments, piles of clutter - anything that draws attention away from the room itself. At this point, it is also a good idea to stow away valuables. Viewers are still strangers, after all.

4. Keep things neutral.

No matter how much you might love that mural on your living room wall, you can't be sure a potential buyer will feel the same way. Keep colours soft, warm and neutral, especially in rooms with little natural light.

5. Draw attention to a feature in each room.

A dining table with a vase of fresh flowers or a beautifully dressed bed in the master bedroom will make the buyer see the potential of the room more clearly.

6. Clean everywhere.

Don't make the mistake of thinking a potential buyer will be too polite to look in cupboards or under the bed - they won't. Therefore, be sure to put cupboards in order and clean thoroughly before the first viewing.

7. Pay attention to how your house smells.

There is no need for apple pies or loaves of bread in the oven (you're selling a house, not throwing a dinner party), but your house needs to smell clean and fresh. This is especially important if you have pets or are a smoker - dry-clean soft furnishings, use air freshener and open windows to get rid of musty smells.

8. Learn to accessorise.

Matching your shower curtain, bath mat, towels and toilet paper will make a plain bathroom more attractive. Beautiful cushions, well-chosen pictures and attractively placed flowers all sell the fantasy that your buyers have found the right house.

9. Send children and pets away.

If at all possible, dispatch your pets and children to a friend or relative when you are expecting viewers. Your children might be adorable but they're a distraction, and many people are allergic to or afraid of certain animals. You don't want your house to be 'that house with the snake'.

10. Give viewers space.

If an estate agent is showing viewers around, make yourself scarce. If not, simply guide them quickly through the house and then give them plenty of time to explore on their own. This will let them imagine living in their new house and hopefully lead to a quicker sale.