But sometimes, it takes much more.
When properties stagnate on the market month after month, or only attract offers way below the asking price, more drastic action is called for.
Sellers can either drop their price - or figure out why their home isn’t appealing to house-hunters and make changes.
De-personalising and de-cluttering, neutralising and modernising… we’ve all seen the TV shows and recognise the phrases in the property guru’s mantra.
“But putting them into practise can be incredibly difficult. Because of their strong emotional connection to the property, many people can’t see it through the eyes of a stranger,” says South Yorkshire’s self-proclaimed Home Doctor.
Expert home-stager Chloe Darker is the go-to stylist for a growing tide of home-owners desperate to sell. They call on Dore-based Chloe Darker Interiors to do what they can’t - get ruthless. Chloe chucks out the things that are putting house-hunters off, and replaces them with an instant new interior - a ready and waiting collection of stylish furnishings.
The end result? A home that oozes quiet, classy aspirational chic.
There are a number of common problems that cause a property to stick on the market, says Chloe, 34.
She explains: “Viewers make very quick decisions, often the moment they cross the threshold. If your style of decor is quite radical, a buyer can find intimidating. If your home is bland, it isn’t memorable to the stranger walking through. If your home is dated, viewers think they are going to have to spend a fortune on modernisation.”
Chloe, who has appeared on TV and radio regularly as an interiors and house-move expert, also points out that an empty property can be just as hard to sell as one stuffed to the gills.
“A place without furnishings is devoid of personality so home-buyers can’t warm to it. And all that empty space does not speak volumes,” she explains. “It confuses people. They can’t visualise what they can fit in and perceive the rooms are much smaller than they actually are.”
Chloe, who had been running her personalised removals business SmarterMoves for several years, discovered she had a knack for home-staging when a male friend having no luck selling his house turned to her in desperation.
“His place had been on the market for six months with no interest whatsoever,” recalls Chloe. “I could immediately see why. He had been renting it out for a while, it was only partly-furnished and looked unloved and a bit too masculine.
“I whizzed in with cushions, lampshades, throws and ornaments. I set the kitchen table with lovely crockery and glassware and made up the beds with lovely linens.
“It took me three days to turn it into a home and it sold within a week. I like to think it’s because viewers could picture themselves living there.”
Her second success was an expensive house in Todwick which had sat on the market for 18 months. “The main issue was its very bright, bold decor,” says Chloe. “I moved in with pots of neutral Farrow & Ball paint (I never use Magnolia) and re-furnished it with relaxed, stylish pieces. It took me four weeks to totally transform it and it sold in three months.”
Flushed with success, Chloe invested a hefty sum in her own stock of wow-factor furniture and home accessories. She sought out huge mirrors, a curved white bed, silvered trunks, classy sofas and striking ornaments.
The Darker interior is worked around neutral palettes, hues of grey, beige, white and cream, the addition of leather and faux fur giving textural depth and warmth. The glitter and glamour of metallics, crystal and mirroring are used as artful highlights.
“I strive to create a stylish, aspirational setting that prospective buyers can imagine themselves in,” she says.
Initially she needed storage space for it all, but not any more… Her ‘instant home interior’ is constantly out on loan. Home-staging clients hire it in for three-month periods for fees ranging from £1,000 for a small terraced property. When houses sell, their contents are shipped off to others awaiting Chloe Darker’s light touch.
Chloe Darker Interiors now encompasses Chloe’s established companies SmarterHomeStaging, SmarterMoves and SmarterInteriors. The ‘home doctor’ works on intuition rather than professional industry training and her trademark look is also in demand from homeowners who have no intention of moving.
“I work across Derbyshire, Sheffield and Rotherham and I have been in some truly fabulous houses,” she says. “I walk out of somewhere I’ve just transformed with a huge sense of pride. But that’s nothing to the thrill I get when I hear the owner has found a buyer.”
Chloe's top tips
1. First impressions count – tidy up the outside of the house. Put matching planters either side of the door, get shiny new door numbers so people know where to find you, hang a decorative wreath and hide the bins.
2. De-clutter all surfaces and bookshelves. You need to depersonalise the property as much as possible and give the illusion of space.
3. Make sure everything is CLEAN – even the windows
4. Update your curtains and blinds (no nets please!) or just make sure they have been laundered. They frame your windows and have a drastic impact on the look of a room.
5. Update an old sofa or suite with plush throws and funky cushions.
6. Change your bedding to crisp white. Put a throw across the bottom of the bed and prop two co coordinating matching cushions in front of the pillows.
7. Try to neutralise your colour schemes – you may like bright green but not everyone does! Go with the current trends and opt for warm greys, metallics and neutrals.
8. Re grout your bathrooms to give them freshness.
9. Make sure lighting is inviting. Change all dead bulbs and use standard lamps, table lamps and candles to give a cosy, warm feel.
10. Look up homestaging companies in your area for experts who can help you do all of the above if you are unsure where to start.
Contact Chloe Darker on 07767 491135.