Presenting Your Home For Sale – A Real Estate Agent’s Top Tips

So, have you decided to sell your home? With the emergence of social media and the bombardment of inspo posts we see across our screens, I think putting time and effort into preparing your home for sale is more important that it has ever been before. If we want to nail that top price, we need to put in a little effort here and there to make sure our home looks as best as it possibly can. 

Now, before you start, a good way to look at it is to pretend that you’re a buyer. Try to forget that it’s your home, and visualise the property through the eyes of someone who hasn’t made an emotional connection with the home yet. If I’m a buyer, how will I feel paying the asking price (or above) after I walk through the property? What would put me off from making an offer? Are there obvious repairs needed? Does the home need an update or refresh in any areas such as in the kitchen or bathroom? Does it need a fresh coat of paint? Are the gardens neat and tidy? 

The aim of the game is to clean, refresh, de-clutter and de-personalise. Now, I know everyone has various things going on that might make it difficult to balance prepping a home for sale on top of the usual day-to-day obligations. However, if you can find a way to put in the time and effort at the start, you will reap the rewards down the track. If that means you need to get professional help with anything, it may be well worth your money. 

Key areas to address when preparing your home for sale

The Exterior

  • Identify any obvious areas that may require repair. Buyers notice everything. 
  • High-pressure clean the roof, driveway, alfresco and any pathways. A clean-looking roof can go a long way.
  • Clean out the gutters and down pipes so there are no leaking gutters on inspection day if its winter. 
  • Are there cracks or sunken pavers in the driveway and portico areas we can repair? 
  • Some well-placed pot plants will always add some life to your entry and outdoor areas, but too many can be overwhelming. 
  • Street appeal is key, so don’t forget your mailbox, doorbell, house number and front door hardware. These items are often the first thing the buyer will see and can easily get overlooked.
  • Plan ahead and mow, water and fertilise the grass well ahead of any viewings to ensure the healthiest looking lawn for photos and inspection day. Keep on top of the weeding.
  • Update the front entry welcome mat if it’s looking a bit tired. Avoid the novelty types and go with a simple design which will appeal to more buyers.
  • Clean the windows.

The General Interior

  • Attend to any obvious repair items. Dripping taps, broken lights, door handles, kitchen or bathroom cabinets, shower doors, broken locks etc etc. 
  • De-personalise the home by removing family photos, personal items from tables, shelves and benchtops and anything else like bills from the fridge. The intention is for the buyer to imagine themselves living in the space and feel a connection to it, not just visiting someone else’s home.
  • De-clutter and rearrange furniture to maximise the feeling of space. Remove excess and oversized furniture which can make a room appear smaller and store them in the shed or garage, or off-site (if possible). Less is usually more, and this applies to what you leave on your shelves and tabletops.
  • Clean, clean, clean! Even a steam and vacuum of the carpets. Hire in professionals if needed and consider replacing the carpet if stains are too prominent. Clean all appliances and fixtures in view and don’t forget to clean shower screens, mirrors and windows. 
  • Consider a fresh coat of paint. This can make any home feel new, and I think usually pays off the most. It is a safe bet to go with neutral colours as they are more likely to appeal to a larger audience and lighter/brighter colours can work better in smaller spaces. 
  • Don’t forget to paint the skirtings, doors and frames. A nice coat of vivid white can help turn your doors into features and will cap off a fresh feel to the interior. 
  • Add lamps to improve lighting and to decorate if possible and install high wattage light bulbs to all lights to brighten even the dimmest of rooms.
  • Add a few pot plants to the key areas in the home but don’t overdo it. 
  • Avoid polarising or controversial art and anything else that could be offensive to some buyers. Use pieces appropriate to the size of the wall and hang your art at eye level. Tall pictures are good for tight spaces such as hallways.
  • Replace the personal items from countertops with decorative items like small plants, scented candles or one or two books. 

Living Areas

  • Some nice cushions and a throw rug will work wonders to the lounge in your living space. Neutral colours often work well but so can a little colour. Consider what works best for the theme in your home.
  • Consider a rug for the floor that ties into the theme of the room. 
  • A nice vase or two with fresh flowers to complement the environment will also add some life.
  • Only minimal decoration to tabletops and countertops. I have learnt that groups of three is the best approach, and use offset placements. 
  • A large pot plant to your living space will create further life in your home. 
  • If you have a large picture or painting, this would be the room for it. 

The Kitchen

  • Remove any fridge magnets.
  • Ensure there are no dishes in sight.
  • Have fresh and new tea towels on display and folded perfectly, but keep them off the oven.
  • Clean and organise the pantry, cabinets and drawers. 
  • A few display items are all that is needed here. Try a small plant, a cookbook, maybe a salt and pepper shaker, a display jar and some wooden spoons for inspiration. 

The Bathroom

  • If the bathroom tiles look old and unloved, it might pay to get the grout cleaned – they will come up a treat.
  • Hang good quality and freshly washed towels in each bathroom. If you feel like buying new towels, now might be the time to invest in a new set. 
  • A small pot plan, a nice soap dispenser or two will do and a rolled flannel will do the trick for the benchtop. You really don’t need much in here. 

Bedrooms

  • Fresh, crisp bed linen and pillowcases will go a long way in the bedrooms. 
  • Adding a couple of large and small decorative pillows to each bed will help too. Again, watch the colour of the cushions. Either try to keep in with the flow of the room or find the right colour to give the room some pop.
  • If you have one, a throw rug that ties into your cushion will always work well here.
  • De-clutter the bedside tables and keep to three items only, e.g. a lamp, vase and a book. 
  • A feature painting or picture in each bedroom will be a nice touch.

The Study

  • Again, less is more in the study. 
  • All we need is a desk and a few bits and bobs on the tabletop.
  • We can try a lamp, some books, a small plant, and maybe a pencil holder. 
  • A painting will work a treat if you have something suitable.

A Few Simple Hacks for Photo Day

So, what do we need to get done for photo day? Is there anything we can skip? First impressions count so getting the right photos means everything and can make a big difference in the saleability of your property, but there are some shortcuts we can take here. 

By now, all of the major repair items are done, the interior has been painted, the gardens are looking fresh, and the home has had its deep spring clean. Aside from the general depersonalisation and decorations we need for photo day, here are some bits and pieces that might save us some work. 

  • Not all cleaning is critical on day of the photos. You can get away with some dusting here and there – so long as the major items have been attended to you will be ok. Windows and screens definitely need a clean on photo day. Best to also avoid any visible crumbs on tables and benchtops.
  • Open all curtains and/or blinds to allow as much natural light as possible.
  • Turn on all the lights.
  • A new layer of mulch close to photo day will add a fresh look to your gardens.
  • Lighting for photos is critical so bright globes are needed. 
  • If we don’t have enough lamps for all of our rooms, just move the lamps from room to room as they take the photos. 
  • If we are short on a few pot plants, again just move them from room to room.
  • Maybe we need a few extra cushions or throw rugs – let’s move them from room to room also.
  • Maybe we are short on decorative shelf items – we can move these as we need too.

Get creative for photos if you need to. There is nothing wrong with doing whatever we can to make sure every photo looks its best. That will buy us some time and we can worry about taking care of the last few items later.  

Day of the Home Open

It’s finally the day of home open. Hopefully, all we need now is a last-minute clean and the final decorative touches. However, there are a few other must do’s for the day:

  • Set a comfortable temperature – 21 to 24 degrees is optimal depending on the season.
  • Open up all the blinds and windows.
  • Turn all the lights on, and the lamps.
  • Light any candles.
  • Relocate your pets to family or friends on the day of the open house viewing.
  • Leave the rest to us. 

Once all the repairs and hard cleaning is done, the decorating is quite simple when you break it down. Nothing is left on benches but a few small decorative items in each room. A painting or picture plus small plant in each room, a large pot plant here or there, a few cushions around, a rug or two, lamps where we can, maybe some books on display, fresh towels and linen, good light globes, work in threes and voila…you’ve just staged your home like a pro and now you can sit back, relax and let your agent finish the job. 

If you want to have chat with James about presenting your home for sale, he is happy to help. He is best contactable via email at james@mgpproperty.com.au or on 0447 120 125.

Thinking of selling your home? Make sure to check out James’ blog post on Selling Your Home in a Surging Property Market.

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Author: Guest Post

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