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What buyers really look for in a property

The end of lockdown and the start of the stamp duty holiday has increased housing demand.  

According to recent figures, the average time it takes to find a buyer has dropped from 39 days in 2019 to 27 days in 2020; and it’s predicted that by the end of the year, house prices will have increased by 2-3% since the start of 2020. 

If you’re looking to sell your property, creating an environment that’s welcoming and presentable has never been more important. We decided to run an experiment to get into the minds of viewers. So, we had buyers view three different houses while wearing eye-tracking software, to see exactly what captured their attention. 

Top things prospective buyers notice first 

We’ve long been told that the kitchen and bathroom are the most important rooms in the house, but it might just surprise you to find out the first things that prospective buyers really did notice during the experiment. 

Radiators

With autumn approaching, it’ll soon be time to turn the heating up. So it comes as no surprise that potential buyers went straight for radiators when looking around a property to check if they worked. Consider turning your heating on before a viewing, as not only will this show that your radiators do work, but it’ll also create a cosy atmosphere – especially during those cold autumn evenings. 

Water pressure

If your water pressure is too low then having a bath or shower can become a chore, but if it’s too high, it can cause leaks. One of the first things potential buyers did during the experiment was check the taps to see what the water pressure was like, so make sure your water pressure is functioning as it should by turning your main feed tap on and off a few times. If you’re concerned that it might not be quite right, then ask a plumber to take a look for you. 

Access to the garden 

If your property comes with a garden then viewers want to see it, and with lockdown changing people’s priorities, many buyers now want homes with gardens for easy outdoor access. During the eye-tracking experiment, buyers were seen looking out into the garden as soon as they entered a room that backed onto it, and checking the patio doors to see if they could get into it. So make sure viewers can access your garden if they want to – you might want to have a quick tidy up too, to maximise the space. 

Pleasant scents from candles and diffusers

It may sound clichéd, but nice aromas do not go unnoticed. In fact, during our eye-tracking experiment diffusers and candles were one of the first things potential buyers spotted throughout the home, even picking them up to smell them. So, it’s a good idea to buy a few diffusers and place them around your house. If you’re a smoker or have pets, then open the windows an hour or so before your first viewing to banish any unwanted smells. 

Bedding comfort 

When walking into the bedroom during the eye-tracking experiment, potential buyers’ attentions went straight to the bed. The bed can help prospective buyers visualise what their furniture will look like in your home, so make sure it’s made and consider casually arranging some cushions or throws on it to make it look extra comfy. 
 
The same goes for the sofa in your living room. Having a home that is well accessorised can make all the difference, so some well-placed scatter cushions and rugs can really help to sell your place. 

Light fittings

Potential buyers often looked at ceiling lights as soon as they entered a room, so if you have any bare bulbs on show, consider buying a lampshade to brighten up the place and make it look more appealing. Budding buyers were also seen turning lights on to check they worked, so if you need to replace any bulbs, make sure you do so ahead of viewings.  

Clean oven

The oven was the first thing potential buyers went to in the kitchen during our experiment, and they were seen checking inside it to see if it worked. Even though it may be a hassle, we’d recommend giving your oven a deep clean, along with your hob and any other cooking surfaces. Where possible, avoid cooking anything too strong smelling before a viewing. You might even want to turn your oven on during a viewing to show that it’s working – just remember to turn it off afterwards, and don’t leave it on if you’re not going to be home when viewings are taking place. 

Cupboard doors

During the experiment, budding buyers checked cupboard doors to see if they were  sturdy – especially in the kitchen. If your cupboards are looking a little untidy, then clean them up, as that will help to show extra space.  
 
With an increase in demand for houses, it may be a good time to put your home on the market. And by following these tips, your property should hopefully sell that bit quicker, so you can move into your dream place sooner rather than later. 

Brought to you by our mortgage experts at Compare the Market. 

Methodology

House viewings were undertaken in September 2020. 
 
In total, three different Strata homes were visited by people looking to purchase a property. Each person wore special eye-tracking glasses to capture the areas of the home they looked at. The results were then analysed to determine the key areas of the home that captured viewers’ attention. 

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