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How to prepare your house for sale

Prepare your house for sale with these tips to help your property appeal to buyers.


If you’re selling a property, there are strategies you can use to increase your chances of maximising your sale price. In fact, your home’s value can partly be driven by how it is perceived by people in the market. There are things you can do to create a positive impression and you don't need to spend a fortune. If you’re looking to impress prospective buyers, these tips could help.


Do some small repairs

Prepare your house for sale by sorting out those unfinished projects. Broken windows, cracked light switches and squeaky hinges could give the impression that the property hasn't been looked after particularly well. These repairs might not cost a lot to do, but they could help increase the value of your property.


Clear the clutter

Decluttering can be a cost-effective way to add value to your home. It can help give your home an airy, spacious feel and enable buyers to imagine where their favourite furniture could go.


Move excess furniture and personal possessions you don't need right now into a storage space, garage or attic. Arrange furniture in a way that makes it easy to walk around the house. Clear the coffee table of magazines and unopened mail, and tidy and organise shelves and bookcases. This can help make your home feel less crowded and enable potential buyers to better imagine living in that space.


Freshen up your kitchen

For many buyers, the kitchen is the most important room in the house, so get yours looking as good as it can. This doesn’t necessarily mean an entire kitchen renovation, which can cost time and money. By doing a bit of research online, you could find some easy and affordable ways to make your kitchen more appealing, whether it’s a fresh lick of paint, replacing the cupboard doors or even putting in new flooring.


Make sure the benchtops, sink, fridge, oven and any other appliances and food preparation areas are spotlessly clean.


Simple touches, like adding a bowl of fresh fruit to your kitchen bench can help improve the visual appeal of your kitchen without adding clutter.


Make your bathroom sparkle

A prospective buyer may forgive an old-fashioned bathroom, but they probably won't appreciate a dirty one. So, now’s the time to put in a bit of elbow grease and get your bathroom looking immaculate.


Focusing on the tiles around the shower and bath can be a good place to start. Re-grouting the corners and edges can improve grubby tiles – and can be done by just about anyone. Use bleach to clear up any mould issues.


Finally, if the taps are rusty and your shower head looks a little outdated, this can be a good opportunity to invest in some new fittings and create a more contemporary look for minimal cost.


Do a deep clean

It's not just the bathroom and kitchen areas that need to sparkle. Do a deep clean of your entire property, including any outdoor spaces.


Aim to present your property in the best light. Consider hiring a carpet cleaner and getting the curtains dry-cleaned so that your property smells and looks fresh. Pay particular attention to windows and mirrors which can boost the light in your home – provided they're not streaky or dirty.


Let the light in

A dark and dimly-lit home can feel small and uninviting, so try to let as much natural light in as possible. Start by opening all your curtains and blinds, cut back any plants or trees that might block out natural light, and think about replacing dark-toned curtains and blinds with bright or natural colours.


Look at the colour scheme of each room. If your furniture and furnishings are dark, think about replacing them with neutral shades that will make your home look bigger and brighter. Mirrors can also be a cost-effective way to make a home feel more spacious, and they are particularly effective in rooms without windows.


Another thing you could do is experiment with new lighting, which can quickly add warmth to any home. Downlights, bedside lamps, desk lamps and under-cabinet lighting can all enhance the overall light experience and highlight features such as a backsplash or fireplace. Finally, keep your bathroom lighting bright and consider using ‘warmer’ downlights for the rest of the room.


Add a fresh coat of paint

Painting can be one of the simplest ways to prepare your home for sale and get it ‘buyer ready’. Start with the interior walls and ceilings.


Bright, natural paint tones can create a fresh, clean look and make your home feel more spacious. You may even want to do the painting work yourself - with a little patience, you could make the place look years younger and save yourself money that can be put to use somewhere else.


Remember, everyone has different tastes when it comes to colour combinations and style. When preparing to sell your home, aim to decorate in neutral tones and use classic colour combinations where possible. For instance, a mix of blue and white tones in the bedroom is known to be relaxing and popular, as well as soft neutral greys. On the other hand, something a little more out-there like red and yellow can be seen as a very personal colour choice, which potentially limits its appeal to a wider buyer segment.


Finally, you may want to avoid using trendy paint colours that can go out of fashion very quickly.


Spruce up the outside to maximise street appeal

A buyer's first impression can count for a lot, which is why the outside of your home can be an important area to get right. 


Your front garden and the front of your house are your chance to ‘greet’ buyers and encourage them to come inside. That’s why maximising the ‘kerb appeal’ is a great way to prepare a house for sale.


Start with a little garden maintenance if you have one. Mow the lawns, remove weeds, rake and sweep away debris and dead leaves. Fertilise your lawns and garden beds to help make sure plants are healthy and looking their best.


You could also clear away any garden waste and clutter such as children's toys, bicycles and gardening equipment. If you have a front gate, try to make sure it’s clean and opens smoothly.


Once you’ve sorted the garden, you can move on to the façade. Start by cleaning the front door and walls - you could even paint them if need be. Repair cracks in the driveway if you can and remove any oil stains. Once this is done, you may want to sweep the porch, replace the front doormat, get rid of any cobwebs and clean exterior windows.


Finally, make sure visitors can clearly see the house number. 


Consider professional styling to ‘stage’ your home

Some property sellers choose to invest in a professional property stylist before putting their home on the market. A home stylist will aim to create a consistent, more neutral flow around your home, allowing buyers to picture how they might put their own stamp on the place.


Typically, they will look to clear your home of any personal items and clutter, and may suggest removing any decor or furniture that is too large or old-fashioned. They can then ‘stage’ your home with more contemporary pieces, including new furniture, rugs, and wall art, as well as on-trend accessories and fresh flowers.


Invest in a marketing campaign to prepare your home for sale

A good marketing campaign can attract more buyers and help to achieve the optimal price for a property. This might include online listings, email newsletters, social media, and physical signage.


Great photos can be a key selling point – they catch the eye of online shoppers. Videos are increasingly popular, often including drone footage to give a sense of the whole property.


A good real estate agent should work with you on how best to present and market your property. 


They’ll understand the type of buyers in an area and know recent prices for similar homes nearby. You could also look at other houses to see how they've been presented and marketed to get ideas on how to prepare your property for sale.


Weigh up the costs and benefits of expensive changes

You shouldn’t have to spend a fortune to get your house looking its best. Little touches can make all the difference when you’re planning to sell your home. And with a bit of effort and some small improvements, you could potentially add value – and bigger improvements could increase the value even further.


However, you need to weigh up costly changes such as new carpet throughout or a full interior and exterior repaint. You don’t want to overcapitalise by making changes that add less value to your home than they cost. By estimating how much value each change is likely to add, you can make smart choices that will maximise your selling price without overspending. 


To sum up

  • Getting a property ready for sale is all about creating a good first impression for potential buyers.
  • When preparing your property for sale, simple and inexpensive tasks like minor repairs, a fresh coat of paint and a deep clean can go a long way.
  • When styling a home for sale, it can be a good idea to stay away from bold colours and opt for neutral tones that help give a sense of space and light.
  • Declutter – this can make a big difference in how a buyer sees your property.
  • Hiring or working with professionals like a stylist, or a real estate agent, can give you ideas on how to present your property for the best outcome.
  • Weigh up the costs and benefits of the more expensive changes to ensure you’re spending wisely and avoid overcapitalisation. 


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Things you should know

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This information is general in nature and has been prepared without taking your objectives, needs and overall financial situation into account. For this reason, you should consider the appropriateness of the information to your own circumstances and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

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