MANAGING DIRECTOR, PROPERTY HUNT

Q.Dear Russell, what can I do to increase the value of my property?
A.There are very simple and obvious things that can be done to improve the value of a property but it is amazing how often people forget them. For example, it will not help the value of your property at all if it is cluttered. You want prospective buyers to envisage rooms as large in size and clearing away items will help them appear bigger. Equally, keep your kitchen surfaces clear.

If you are selling a tenanted property, then you need to make sure your tenants keep it tidy. You could consider incentivising them by offering them a rent reduction. This will help your sale price so you’ll almost certainly make back what money you lost on the rent.

Check to make sure there are no damp patches or any smell of damp and if a flat above has leaked, for example, and stained the ceiling, get rid of the mark. Even if it happened years ago, it will give buyers an impression that the place needs work doing to it and may offer less. Make sure all appliances and lights work. Finally, if you have a flat in an apartment block, give the communal areas a tidy. These are the first parts of the property that viewers will see.

Q.Dear Russell, do you think it is a buyers’ or sellers’ market in London?
A.There have been many conflicting reports on this topic but in my opinion it is more of a buyers’ market here in the capital. Vendors have become more flexible so it is worth doing some research into what situation the seller is in. Try to find out if they need to sell quickly or if they need to release the cash – this strengthens your negotiating power. However, there are still some sellers who have a price in mind and you will never get them to shift their position. If you are up against other people for a property, then it becomes trickier to make the most of a buyers’ market. But with Christmas approaching, there is less competition and sellers want to exchange now to get it out of the way.

Check out properties that have been sitting on the market. The house might not have anything wrong with it – it may just have been passed over by estate agents in favour of newer commissions – and the seller might take a reduction.

Russell Hunt is managing director of Property Hunt, a search agent for London and the Home Counties. www.property-hunt.co.uk