The past few months has seen a surge in the housing market. Encouraged by the stamp duty holiday millions of Brits have put their homes up for sale and are hoping to move on before the end of March. But how can we quickly (and affordably) present our homes at their best to encourage would-be buyers?

Whilst some buyers are happy to take on a project, many of us are time-poor or not confident enough to attempt more than the most basic of DIY work, so if possible its always advisable to complete any half started renovations, tackle any outstanding repair work and make your house a home that buyers can comfortably move into without too much hassle.

But achieving a fast sale and getting a good price for your property may require a little more attention to detail. Preparing your home for photographs and viewings may seem like detail but it’s amazing how an iconic piece of furniture presented in the right way will mean buyers swiping across Rightmove may actually hover a little longer on your property and result in far more viewings.

When it comes to staging a home, think showhome territory. It’s hard but try and remove yourself emotionally from your home. Try and see it if you can through a stranger’s eyes and look at each room with that perspective. As an interior designer, I’ve worked with a number of estate agents and property developers to provide the finishing touches to homes before they go to market. Here are my top 5 tips to help you:

1. Everyone says it but it really is the number 1 golden rule when it comes to staging a property. Declutter. Declutter. Declutter. And when you’ve decluttered, declutter again! It’s amazing how life throws us so much STUFF. And whilst we know the sentimental value, or the fact that it’s useful to have it to hand, a potential buyer won’t be interested in the slightest. A buyer wants to see the room dimensions and a light airy space. Clutter and excessive furniture competes with that. Take some time looking at showhomes online. Make a list of what they have in each room. You might be surprised at how minimal it is. Then compare to each of your rooms and see if you can strip out any unnecessary furniture and parr it right back to just the essentials to make each room look bigger. Even if you have to spend money on storing the furniture it might mean you achieve a price closer to your asking price or even over!

2. De-personalise your home. When a buyer steps into your house they are wanting to feel like they’ve found their next home. They don’t want to feel like they’re intruding in a stranger’s home. So for photographs and viewings I always recommend removing family photographs, children’s artwork and anything that makes it your home rather than theirs.

3. Kerb appeal is really important. If you have won a potential buyer over with your wonderful photographs online, the next step for most buyers is to drive past your property before making a viewing. Partly this is to experience the neighbourhood, the road itself, your neighbours, traffic etc.. But they’re also checking out that the reality is as good as the photographs and it’s amazing how many times this just isn’t true. This is your chance to exceed their expectations. Take a walk or a drive past your house and look at it through a buyer’s eyes. If you have a front garden make sure the wall isn’t crumbling away, the hedges are well trimmed and the roses aren’t obscuring the windows. Tidy up any peeling paintwork on the exterior. Pay attention to your fascias and soffits. If these are old or in bad condition these can instantly let your property down. Invest in some new plants, window boxes or hanging baskets to add appeal.

4. When I go into a showhome to stage it and prepare it for market, I always try and look for one statement piece for each room. Sometimes it can be the primary object in the room, like the sofa or bed, other times, it’s just about adding something slightly unusual that will stand out. Think a vintage rocking horse in a child’s room, an oversized vase brimming with flowers or a beautifully upholstered armchair in the living room. In my interior design work, I like adding a ‘pop’ of colour into neutral palettes. Inexpensive cushions, throws and pillows will do the trick – they draw the eye and will make your home stand out amongst the others.

5. Before the official photographs are taken of your property, always spend some time yourself taking a few images from different angles. Experiment and take some from a higher or lower angle. It’s amazing how a space can look totally different through the lens. You’ll notice things that need to be removed, want to add pieces in and reposition things but know when it looks right. What’s more you can use this knowledge to guide the official photographer. They’re often pushed for time and won’t have time to play around with different angles so don’t be afraid to ask for a shot to be taken from a particular angle. You’re the expert here.

Hopefully these tips will help you when it comes to staging and styling your home ready to sell. One last thing, always let as much light into your property as possible. Open curtains fully, pull up blinds and switch lights on to maximise your avenues of light.

Happy selling!