Flats and kerb appeal – are cluttered communal areas undermining your sale?

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  • A flat’s exterior is a first impression that can make or break a potential sale.
  • Even if the freeholder maintains communal areas, you can still check them over and tidy up.

Kerb appeal is how estate agents refer to the impression a home makes before a potential buyer has even entered the property. How does it look from the street? What does the outside of the house say about the inside?  It’s actually a very important part of the process, because you want your buyer to feel positive about your property right from the start.

This is very important for flats as well, because your flat won’t just be judged on its own merits; buyers will be looking at the way the property is maintained and managed as well. Because the landlord or freeholder will be responsible for maintaining communal areas, there will be a number of matters you won’t be able to deal with yourself. However, there’s nothing to stop you checking that it’s all clean and tidy.

The exterior of the block and the communal areas have to make the right impression on buyers.

Start at the kerb, as you would if you were coming for a viewing, and work your way up to your flat. As you go, try and imagine what impression each area is making on a potential buyer.

How does the block of flats look from the street? The communal areas of your block are often managed by the freeholder, but there’s nothing to stop you from giving the street door a quick wipe down to make it look bright and inviting. You can also do a five-minute garden blitz without treading on the gardener’s toes – simply pull up any weeds and sweep the path. Pick up any litter and close the door of the bin store so the outside looks tidy.

Once inside, check the front hall. You won’t be able to do anything about the decor, but you can make sure the front hall is clean and uncluttered. Recycle the obvious junk mail and put any other post in a neat pile. This might also be the time to have a polite word with your neighbour about where he keeps his bike (!). You probably have a regular cleaner covered by your service charges but if you find a muddy hall floor on the morning of the viewing, it’s better to clean it up yourself.

The stairs should be clutter-free and the lift should be working. The communal areas of your own floor should also be immaculate. Finally, look at your own front door – polish the metal fittings and wipe off any marks.

Just because the freeholder maintains your block, it doesn’t mean you can let it undermine the sale of your flat. Kerb appeal is even more important for flats than it is for houses – you have to showcase the communal areas of the block as well as the flat you want to sell.

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