I’ll never forget as a young impressionable estate agent the memory of a particular very nice home and the reaction potential buyers had to it. Why? Because it shaped the advice I have given so many successful home sellers ever since.

It was back in the heady days of 1987 when we were experiencing a market the like of which, thankfully, I have never seen since. If anyone tells you todays market is mental, well they haven’t experienced mental.

Why was this particular property so memorable? 

As I said I was a young and impressionable estate agent at the time. I had just gone out to a popular housing estate in the town I was working in and felt very privileged to have been chosen to market this particular property. It was an immaculately presented modern four bedroom detached family home in what was seen as a good location, close to schools, easy access to the mainline train station etc etc. See I’ve even slipped back into 80’s speak!

I thought the house was lovely. It was a designer living space to the extreme and I could have easily believed it had graced the pages of an interiors magazine. A young professional couple owned it. No kids, high income salaries and few outgoings. The height of fashion at the time was minimalist with glass and chrome and I remember their dining table and chairs were particularly striking, so striking that I may still have a bruise or two from having walked into the glass top more than once whilst showing prospective buyers around. The house looked a little like a set from George Lucas’ THX 1138, all white on white (actually the sofa may have been cream, my memory fades with age). White carpet, white walls, a few carefully chosen pieces of artwork and not a single thing out of place, mainly because there was little to misplace.

Why has it remained so memorable?

Because of the reaction of the very first people I took to look at it.

Consider the impression so many people today are given by certain TV shows and magazine articles of how to present their homes for selling: de clutter – de personalise. Take everything out that speaks of you. Surely this home would have been the pinnacle of the presentation ideal espoused by certain current day property gurus. How much ahead of their time were my clients?

What happened on that first viewing?

Absolutely nothing!


Because as I opened the front door all puppy dog excited to show a couple their soon to be new home one surprising thing happened.

They both looked through the front door and almost instantly said in stereo,

‘My God! It doesn’t look like anyone lives here! It’s not a home is it!’

They didn’t even go inside. It turned out to be one of the hardest homes I had to sell and trust me that was saying something back in 1987, a time when we were selling in a week what many agents are only selling in a month today.

What was the key thing that property taught me way back then? Two things actually.

Thinking about Presentation is Crucial and most importantly:

People buy Homes!

Every time someone talks to me about the advice they’ve seen on TV or read in a magazine and asks my opinion on de cluttering and de personalising; that property experience always springs to mind.

I am grateful to the TV shows and magazine articles because more and more often people do ask me ‘Is there anything we should do to prepare our home for the market?’ It’s generally much better to be asked that question than to be told ‘We’ve worked really hard to get the house ready for selling, we’ve got rid of so much stuff!’ or to face a stoney blank look as you try and explain why presentation can be so important and that perhaps a few changes will make a big difference. I have had some awkward converations over the years.

All this media talk of preparing your home for the market has had an impact but not always the most beneficial one.

Like most things in life there’s a happy medium to be struck. Everyone should be thinking about how their home will be presented when they are looking to sell. Be careful of extremes though. Funnily enough I tend to find most people are overly self-critical. Certainly some homes do need extra thought and preparation but so many don’t need much. Do always ask your agents advice (if you’re seeing more than one agent ask them all the question. How they answer should help you in your decision making process of who to choose); you are preparing your property for a photo shoot certainly but remember it’s your home and you are aiming for it to be someone else’s. The question we always need to ask is: What do people actually choose to buy? The answer may not be the one you expect.

I’ll talk in more detail about that and the real considerations when preparing yourHome for selling in another post.

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