From Lawpack’s Sell Your Own Home Kit.
If you’re selling your own home, you need to quickly grasp a number of skills, such as how to market your property. One tool at your disposal is preparing your property particulars. Here’s a step-by-step guide to property particulars that will help you when you’re selling your own home.
There are a number of essential items that your property particulars (or property details) must include and others that you’re advised to include if you want to produce a professional job that competes with, or exceeds, the standard set by the top estate agents. And they won’t like you knowing that it’s really not all that hard. Here’s how to produce property particulars that really sell your house.
Here’s what you need to include:
Property Particulars Essentials #1: The address of the property with the postcode
If you’re worried about security, you can omit the name of the property or the number in the street. But it’s important that you include the postcode because prospective house buyers need this information if they want to research the area.
Property Particulars Essentials #2: Your contact details
House buyers need to be able to contact you easily, so give as many telephone numbers as possible: your home number, your work number, your mobile number and your email address. You can omit your home number if you are worried about security but, if you do, make sure that you keep your mobile switched on while you’re selling your home.
Property Particulars Essentials #3: The price of the property and tenure
You should have no difficulty setting a price for selling your own home if you’ve followed our advice in our Sell Your Own Home Kit (for a taster, you can have a look at our article “Selling Your Own Home: Setting Your House Sale Price”).
Make sure that you say whether the price is for a freehold or leasehold. This applies only in England and Wales; in Scotland, the concepts of leasehold and freehold don’t apply as all property is simply owned.
Property Particulars Essentials #4: Details of the lease
If the property is leasehold (England and Wales only), indicate when the lease was granted and for how many years, because this can affect the house sale price. For example, some short leasehold properties with, say, less than 25 years left on the lease can appear cheap, so it would be misleading to omit this information. However, most leases are granted for 99 years or 125 years, so a typical description might be: ‘Lease granted for 125 years from 1 January 1990’, which house buyers can work out means that the lease doesn’t expire until the year 2115 and there are over 100 years still to run.
The important date is not the date on which the lease was signed, but the date which the lease runs from; for example, a lease signed on 28 April 1990 might actually run from 25 March. The lease will say something along these lines: ‘a lease granted for a term of 125 years from 25 March 1990’.
Learn more about leasehold property and buying a freehold.
Property Particulars Essentials #5: A picture of the property
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and this is certainly true when you’re selling your own home. Most potential house buyers will reject details which don’t have at least one picture of the property. It’s also a good idea to include photographs of the key rooms such as the kitchen, living room and main bedroom, the garden and any other rooms which you think may tempt in the house buyers.
Aim to produce your details digitally on a computer so that you can produce both paper-based and electronic versions. This means that you can email the details and make selling your own home that bit quicker. Pictures can be taken with any camera, although a wide angle lens helps when you’re taking pictures of confined spaces, but don’t overdo the wide angle as this can also create a misleading picture.
This is the moment to think about investing in a digital camera. Treat the cost – you can buy a camera which will do the job for around £150 – as a marketing expense and remind yourself that you will have the use of it long after you have sold your own home.
The other alternative is to use photographic prints and scan them in to your computer. If you don’t have a scanner, you can take them to a photographic shop, including those based in larger chemist shops, and have them put onto a CD which you can then download onto your computer.
Property Particulars Essentials #6: The brief description
Anyone who has ever gone property hunting knows that you need to plough through endless details very quickly. This applies whether you’re browsing the sell your house websites or peering through estate agents’ windows. What the house buyer needs to know quickly is whether the property is detached or semi-detached or terraced; how many bedrooms it has; how many reception rooms and bathrooms it has; and how big the garden is; whether there is a garage or off-street parking; and whether it’s freehold or leasehold; and for flats which floor it’s on (unless it’s on the fifth floor and there is no lift when this information is better omitted).
Keep these initial details brief, although it’s always worth putting in any big selling point, such as a south-facing garden or ensuite bathroom, or a new combi boiler or kitchen fittings. Use numerals when you’re referring to the number of rooms because these are quicker to read than words. Also remember to include whether your property has any restrictions on it, such as it being a listed building.
Property Particulars Essentials #7: Free yourself of estate agent jargon
Keep your property details simple and free of flowery estate agent language and catch phrases. Go through your details and check your use of adjectives. In property details adjectives such as ‘delightful’ or ‘unique’ (and don’t use that one unless the feature is truly unique!) clutter up what you’re trying to say and add nothing to the overall impression you want to create.
Property Particulars Essentials #8: The location of the property and a brief description of the area
Locate the property by reference to its nearest towns, major roads, train and London Underground stations. For example, a property in the Clifton area of Bristol could be described as being in ‘north-west Bristol; two miles from the centre of the city; half a mile from Clifton Down station; two miles from Junction 3 on the M32 and seven miles from Bristol airport’; whereas a country property could be described as ‘standing back from the B1135 between the market towns of Dereham and Wymondham, which has a regular train service to Cambridge’.
It’s not necessary to go into enormous detail here about the area.
Property Particulars Essentials #9: The dimensions of the rooms
House buyers expect to see the dimensions of the rooms on the details and because not everyone is familiar with metric measurements, it’s a good idea to include both metric and imperial. If you decide to have a floor plan drawn up (see below), this will provide you with all the room measurements you need. If you decide to do your own measuring, all you need is a good-quality measuring tape and two people, or one person, and a sonic measure which takes accurate measurements using a sonic beam. A basic sonic measure which is adequate for measuring properties costs around £30.
If your room is an odd shape, it’s permissible to show the longest or widest dimension but this must be mentioned, adding after the measurement a phrase such as ‘at the widest’ or ‘into the bay’, as appropriate.
Property Particulars Essentials #10: The floor plan
It’s not essential to produce a floor plan, but it does help house buyers, not only before they view the property, but also afterwards, when it acts as a useful aide-mémoire. Not everyone is at ease reading a floor plan, so if a viewer shows interest in your property, it’s a good idea to sit them down with the floor plan and take them through it, which will help them retain important information about how the spaces and any unusual changes of level work.
Floor plans cost between £50 and £100 to get drawn up, less if you already have architectural drawings of your property, and most firms offering this service can arrange to have one drawn up in a couple of days. Floor plans include all the room measurements, so if you do decide to have a floor plan drawn up, you won’t need to measure the rooms yourself.
If you decide to get a floor plan drawn up, make sure that you ask for the area of the house, both in metric and imperial measurements. If you opt to measure your own property, you can produce a rough approximation of the floor space by adding up the area of all of the rooms you have measured and adding 20 per cent for ‘circulation’ space, i.e. hallways and staircases. By all means quote this figure in your property details, but with the caveat that it’s an approximate figure.
Property Particulars Essentials #11: The area of the property
These days house buyers are sophisticated and some like to compare property prices using the cost of each square foot or square metre of space. By establishing a baseline for property prices in a particular area using this measure, house buyers can easily work out if a property is cheap or expensive for the area. For example, if the average price per square foot in your area is £200, the selling price of a 1,500-square-foot house should be £300,000. It follows that a similar-sized house on the market at £280,000 is either cheap or needs work, and another on the market at £325,000 is either in very good condition or is overpriced.
Property Particulars Essentials #12: Proof It!
Finally, remember to get someone to proof-read your particulars.
And good luck with the sale.
Find out all you need to know about selling your own home with our Selling Your Own Home Kit.
Published on: June 3, 2008