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Monday, 14 August, 2000, 14:48 GMT 15:48 UK
Six steps to a quick house sale

A new survey reveals people are prepared to lie through their back-teeth to sell their home. BBC News Online's Megan Lane looks at some of the more subtle ploys homeowners use to shift a slow-to-sell property.

As the over-heated property market cools, people selling their homes may feel the need to resort to a few clever tactics to make their property more appealing.

Some go even further, indulging in a spot of subterfuge to off-load their abode.

A survey by ICM Research found that about two-thirds of the 1,000 homebuyers questioned would not confess to disruptive neighbours, traffic congestion or even ghosts.

But there are more creative ploys to sell a home.

1) Wake up and smell the...

Cleanliness, it seems, is godliness in the house-buying stakes.

bleach
Forget fresh-perked coffee - break out the bleach
The days of popping on a fresh pot of coffee - or roasting a few mocha beans in the oven - to woo prospective buyers are over, according to a recent survey.

A survey last year found those in the market for a new home are more likely to be impressed by the lingering smell of a good spring clean.

It may have been a cold day in hell last time the vacuum cleaner went under the bed, but sloping around a bit of bleach will at least make the place smell clean.

2) Lies, lies and cover-ups

Shifting a sofa to hide a stain on the carpet, or hanging a picture over tatty wallpaper is an age-old trick. So, too, is placing a vase of colourful blooms in front of a window with a fine view of a concrete retaining wall.

Tricks of the trade
Light up the entrance and hallways at night
Keep pets quiet
Fix leaking taps, peeling wallpaper
Keep rooms and storage areas tidy - they will look bigger
National Association of Estate Agents
But disguising extensive damage demands a more cunning ploy.

08004homes.com, the property website that commissioned Monday's survey, found that one unscrupulous vendor in Knightsbridge, London, reassured prospective buyers that the plastic sheeting lining the basement was to guard against damage from landscaping work.

But a peek behind the plastic revealed the carpet and paintwork had already been damaged, and the basement itself turned out to be structurally unsound.

3) Asset-stripping

Fallen in love with lush garden or the posh loo fittings in the home of your dreams? Could be the departing owner has too.

Estate agents have witnessed sales collapse because the vendor makes off with favoured fittings.

One millionaire buyer almost bailed out of a 2.4m Berkshire mansion because the antique mahogany lavatory seat had been replaced with a cheap plastic model.

North of the border, a Scottish gardening enthusiast dug up the lovingly tended plants that had proved to be their home's selling point.

Not every asset stripped is valuable - a survey in July found four in 10 movers took the lightbulbs - saving all of 50p a pop.

4) Timing is everything

Live on a busy thoroughfare? House doctors - who give advice on how to move a property - advise restricting visits to well outside rush hours.

As an added bonus, rowdy neighbours are more likely to be out - or sleeping off the excesses of the night before - at this time of day.

5) Illusion of space

A shoebox-with-ensuite studio flat is up for sale.

Changing Rooms' host
Who let that woman in? Steer clear of bright colours
Yet far from being taken with the bijou charms of the place, prospective buyers have taken to bringing along their seven-year-old's Bagpuss backpack to test if it is indeed too small to swing a cat.

Smart vendors apply the basics of Feng Shui and get rid of any clutter. Even a closet will look bigger when cleared of the old tennis rackets, back issues of Loaded and faded duvet covers.

The same goes for aesthetic clutter - those keen for a quick sale eschew the fuchsia and tangerine paints favoured by the Changing Rooms set in favour of off-white for that illusion of spaciousness.

6) DIY hell

First impressions count for everything with those who are less-than-handy about the home.

The paint may be chipping on the window sills throughout, and the electrics may be shorting, but a lick of paint on the front door and a functioning buzzer provide at least a semblance of a well-maintained home.

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See also:

07 Aug 00 | Business
Property prices continue to slow
28 Jul 00 | UK
Plaques to the wall
13 Aug 99 | Business
Homing in on a special agent
21 Jan 00 | Business
Negotiate the Property Maze
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