The Property Man

Will 2012 be the year the property market restarts? We've got some great advice from Phil Spencer if you are thinking of selling your home this year

What are the basic rules of presentation when people are selling their homes?

What I've helped quite a number of people with is designation of space. You need to make it very easy for a prospective purchaser to walk through a house and be very clear what they would do in each room. Space is at a premium, and if you have a family all doing different things with a space – eating, cooking, homework, music, watching telly – the buyer gets confused. That’s the last thing you want to do.

It's also important to be aware of who the target market is. People have often chosen their house as a couple ten years ago, but they've now got three kids and are trying to sell it to who they were ten years ago, to a couple who are thinking about starting a family. But they've lost track of what they liked about it when they chose it. They have to think about what sold them the house ten years ago, and present it accordingly. Selling houses isn't something people do very often, so it's not something they're particularly experienced at, so they can make some pretty basic errors.

So what are the golden rules for sellers?
Tidy away any clutter. You've got to have the right price, so consider that very carefully. Also, it's important to choose the right agent – one who's used to selling your type of property. Go and have a look in the window at what else they're selling. And then there's standard stuff like agents' details and photos. I've seen some hideous mistakes on them that the owners haven't picked up themselves. First impressions really count, so your kerb appeal has to be as good as it possibly can be. The house needs to look as inviting as possible in order to get viewers through the front door. It's only having entered the house that they'll be able to appreciate the interior.

What do you enjoy so much about the property business?
What has always appealed to me, and still does so, is helping people and making a difference. We all live somewhere, and a home is such a precious thing, and such an expensive thing. It's our sanctuary, it's our private space, it's where we put our treasured things and bring our families up. It's all that that fascinates me, in helping people make those decisions.

Do you move house quite a lot, or are you settled?
No, I hate moving house! I've been where I am for six years, and the place before that for five years. No, I like to make the right decisions. It's such a big decision, and it's so expensive to move, you've got to get it right. I find moving quite unsettling, so I was careful to buy a house that I could adapt to suit changing needs. Today it's almost twice as big as it was when I originally bought it.