A third of prospective homebuyers take less than a minute to decide if they like a house after stepping through the door, new research by TaskRabbit has found.

So if you are looking to sell, making a good first impression is vital.

“When putting your house on the market, there are a few key dos and don’ts to make sure your home is as inviting as possible,” says Kate Watson-Smyth, home sellers consultant for TaskRabbit.

“Don’t forget that the front garden, door and hallway are incredibly important, as they form the buyer’s first impression of the house – make sure they’re sparkling clean before any house views.

“Unsightly wear and tear, such as unpleasant smells, water leak stains and cracked plaster are among the biggest deterrents for would-be buyers,” Watson-Smyth adds. “It’s a good idea to have a friend or family member pop over and look at your home with fresh eyes. When you’ve been living there a while, it’s easy to miss those little cosmetic things that will turn a prospective buyer off.”

Nathan Emerson, CEO of the property agents’ membership body Propertymark (propertymark.co.uk), says: “While the full stamp duty extension [in the UK] has now come to a close, the tapered transition to the end of September is still a great incentive for potential buyers, so sellers should go that extra mile to help their property stand out in the market.

“People buy with their heart, so don’t underestimate the small things you can do to make a real difference in helping a buyer imagine themselves in their future home.”

The TaskRabbit research found 56% of homebuyers say they’d walk away if they had a ‘bad feeling’ about a property, and 28% admit they’ve written off a property purely from viewing grubby exterior features, like an untidy driveway. As for the homeowners looking to sell, 30% admit to feeling anxious about whether their property’s clean or tidy enough before a viewing.

The good news? Making sure your house boasts features buyers are looking for could be easier than you think. Here are some suggestions…

1. Washing windows

Potential buyers will pay attention to windows, as they’ll immediately give a sense of how well-maintained the rest of the house is, say the Propertymark pros. If you have easy access, give them a thorough wash, and if your house has wooden windows, consider giving them a fresh lick of paint to stop them looking old and cracked. Double-glazed windows were the top feature wanted by 66% of homebuyers in the TaskRabbit survey.

2. The kitchen is key

The state of a kitchen can make or break a sale. TaskRabbit found modern appliances or finishes were an important feature for 39% of the homebuyers surveyed, with the same percentage wanting an open-plan kitchen, and 33% being put off by a dirty kitchen.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

Propertymark suggests you make sure your kitchen is looking its best by giving all the cupboards and surfaces a deep clean and painting any old or worn cupboards, as this will transform the space without you having to fork out on replacing cabinets.

3. Preen the garden

TaskRabbit found 48% of homebuyers are looking for a scenic garden, with 31% saying bi-folding or sliding doors to the outdoor space was a plus point, and 28% saying an overgrown garden was a big turn-off.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

Emerson advises: “Make sure the garden is tidied, mowed and de-weeded. Cutting back any overgrown trees and decorating with plant pots will add extra colour. Make sure to set up any outdoor furniture, such as a barbecue and sun loungers, to give buyers a sense of how the space might look if it were their own.”

4. Let there be light

Propertymark says a dark room is an immediate turn-off to buyers, and TaskRabbit found bright and airy rooms were the second most important feature for homebuyers, with 63% saying it was key, and 34% saying neutral walls, which can help a room seem lighter, were important.

“The easiest first step is to let the sun pour in and maximise natural light as much as possible, by opening curtains and blinds and giving any dirty windows a scrub before putting your property on the market,” says Emerson.

5. Display fresh flowers

Keeping fresh flowers on display is a welcoming touch that will make your home appear well-kept. Flowers can give rooms a lift and create a clean fragrance to greet a buyer, and Emerson points out: “No matter how well your home is presented, a few simple touches with some neutral flowers will enhance the property’s appeal.”

6. Avoid over-personalisation

Nobody has the exact same taste in décor and future buyers must be able to visualise themselves living in your space, so consider removing any decoration that shows too much personality.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

“Just because something adds character to the property to make it your home, doesn’t necessarily mean any value’s being added to the property’s saleability,” says Emerson.

7. Fix faulty DIY

First impressions can sway a buyers’ decision, so it’s essential to patch up any maintenance slips, such as holes in walls, broken doorknobs and cracked tiles. TaskRabbit found exposed wiring was a turn-off for 62% of viewers, while 50% weren’t happy about cracked plaster, and 36% said cracked floor tiles were a no-no.

“While it may be tempting to attempt DIY jobs yourself to cut costs, it can be worth spending a little extra on professional handiwork, now lockdown measures have eased, to help boost the value of your property,” suggests Emerson.