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Tips On Preparing Your Property For Sale

It is said that moving house ranks as one of the most stressful events in life, alongside death and divorce, so it stands to reason that you should want to make it as easy and quick as humanly possible. When a property is not selling, the stress can be enormous. Life can feel like it’s been put on hold, and it is dominated by the need to sell and move forward. It may well cause the vendor to miss out on purchasing the new home they have their heart set on, and relationships can be placed under an awful strain. All property will sell at a price.

This will depend greatly on the location it is set in, and there will always be a ceiling on any price a buyer is willing to pay, no matter where the property is. However, there is no reason that a vendor cannot very effectively shift their property towards that ceiling price and have it become a desired home that buyers will be scrapping over. The key is in the presentation, and crucially in the first impression the potential buyer receives. This must begin at the pavement, and this is known as “kerb appeal”. Even before the viewer sets foot in the house, they must be happy with what they see.

Given that you can’t really request that your ugly neighbours stay indoors when viewings are in session, you must attend to your own plot with great care and detail. Selling your home can be as easy or hard as you make it. To sell quickly, you need to make some effort and embrace the tried and trusted advice that has been proven to work wonders over the years. You may need to spend a little money, but this should be more than recouped in the final sale price, and will certainly be reflected in the speed with which your home sells – which for many people is beyond monetary value.

The Psychology of First Impressions

Imagine going on a blind date and hooking up with an individual in scruffy clothes, with dishevelled hair, and in desperate need of a shower. Would you be able to look past all that and see the good looks and great heart? Or would you think that there are too many other fish in the sea for you to waste your time on this one? First impressions when selling your home are everything. Anyone who enters your home with a negative attitude already established will be almost impossible to turn around.

They can instantly be “switched off” to the extent that they become unable to see the very real attractions your home may offer. They may not even listen to whoever is showing them around because they may be too busy resenting them for taking up their precious time with such a feeble showing.

They will probably end up finishing the tour out of politeness, but it will be little more than going through the motions and you will never see them again. You may baulk at this, and question what is wrong with people that they cannot see the potential in your home, but this won’t change the situation. The important point to remember is that most people who are in a financial position to buy a home work for a living.

This means they very likely don’t have the time, energy or inclination to take on a project; what they want is a home. They want to be able to move their stuff in and immediately relax in comfortable surroundings. They don’t really want to be repairing and painting and beautifying their new home. Of course such people do exist. They are called property developers and the less well-off. Property developers may be very happy to take on your home at a bargain-basement price and carry out the necessary works to make it a going concern.

Equally, people with restricted finances find it far easier to spot the potential for improvement in a property – if it means they can pay less for it. But where this leaves the vendor is with low offers they will end up refusing, because vendors can find it extremely difficult to swallow their pride and accept that the home they have spent years living in is not worth top-dollar. Your best bet when selling your home is to think of all potential buyers as short-sighted and lazy. This is the lowest common denominator for sure, but you can apply it to the majority of people.

Don’t expect anyone to see the potential in your home; only what is bang in front of them. And don’t expect anyone to relish the prospect of making over your home to suit their own tastes; remember that buying a house is as stressful as selling one, and the thought of weeks of redecorating may be a deal-breaker for many potential buyers.

A Quick And Healthy Sale

Quick sales are always easy if you don’t want much money for your property. To achieve a healthy sale – meaning financially in your favour – you must follow a step-by-step guide to preparing your home for sale. How strictly you adhere to this guide will reveal how truly keen you are to get the best price in the shortest time-frame for your home.

Tidy Up & De-Clutter

“So what if there are dirty nappies on the floor? I have a baby and I’m a very busy person.” Wrong attitude. Buyers react to an untidy home by thinking: ugh, I couldn’t live in this mess. Of course, no one is asking them to, but to produce such a negative thought on a house viewing is seriously detrimental to the prospect of securing a sale. If nothing else, it can make the buyer feel indisposed towards the vendor, and as any seasoned salesman will tell you, people are far less likely to buy from people they dislike.

Tidying up is not rocket science and shouldn’t need explaining. As far as possible, the effect you are looking for is one of a show-house on a new housing development. If you haven’t been inside one, go and take a look. The instant impression is neat and tidy, and this helps to produce the “blank canvas” effect you are looking for, where the buyer can easily envisage themselves seamlessly taking over your space from you.

Whilst tidying up may be simple to grasp and enforce, de-cluttering is a different matter and a potentially thorny issue for some vendors. To start off on the very tip of one of those thorns and you know that wall of photos you have featuring various generations of your family mugging like mad at the camera? That’s clutter. To you it’s priceless; to a buyer it’s clutter. It defines your home as belonging to someone else, and that is a bad impression to create in a buyer’s mind when they are trying to picture their own family living there. You also need to think how you react when you see family photos displayed in a friend’s house. Who hasn’t thought Gee, that poor kid looks like Shrek? This equally goes for the little knick-knacks and ornaments you have lying around or displayed. You may be very proud of the souvenirs you have picked up on your world travels, but that piece of dried Namibian camel dung is not the talking point you think it is. Likewise falling into the clutter category is your collection of thimbles so tastefully displayed in that mahogany wall unit. Even your favourite rug or throw can be clutter.

Don’t forget the kitchen. Remove any gadgets or receptacles that aren’t fixed by screws. The kitchen is one of the key selling points in any property, and a kitchen that is too small, or that seems too small, can be a deal-breaker even when everything else is perfect. Clear surfaces and create the illusion of plenty of workspace. Just remember not to cram everything into the cupboards in case your potential buyer pulls open a door and is crushed to death by your Le Creuset cast iron casserole pan as it falls out.

If you have children, their toys will also count as clutter in that they will eat up valuable floor and storage space that the buyer will prefer to see empty. Clearly, de-cluttering can require a large swallowing of pride. Accepting that other people may not have your tastes is essential. You can blame the potential buyers for their lack of taste if it makes you feel better, but the bottom line is to create a pretty neutral impression. That doesn’t mean clearing every surface and wall so you look like you’ve just been burgled. An inoffensive picture, a table lamp, a vase – these are all fine – and contrary to what you may think this will not make your home seem soulless to other people; only to you. Other people will be able to see your home as potentially theirs, and this has got to be what you want. Besides the aim of removing your personal stamp from the property, de-cluttering has the immediate effect of creating the impression of more space. Visually, the more clear wall, floors and surfaces you can see, the greater the feeling of openness and space.

Storing Your Clutter

Considering that people viewing your property will want to see everything your home has to offer, you are advised not to try to store your clutter at home. Whichever room or cupboard, wardrobe, shed or garage you pile it into, it will probably come to light at some point in the viewing, and the message will be that there is insufficient space in your home for your possessions. That then raises the question of whether there will be enough room for the buyer’s possessions. Instead, you should store your clutter with a friend or relative, or at a self-storage facility. If you really don’t know where to start with the whole de-cluttering thing, you can enlist the help of a professional organiser, but don’t be too surprised to find that you end up paying for something you feel you could have done yourself.

Clean & Repair

Cleaning is not on many people’s most-loved to-do list, but you have to bite the bullet when preparing your home for sale. This is more than running a vacuum cleaner over the floor before a viewing; this involves a deep clean of every centimetre of your home, and if you have to pay someone to do this for you it will be money well spent. It’s not just the look of your home that benefits from cleaning; it can make a musty home smell much fresher.

The danger of presenting a less than spotless home to a potential buyer goes beyond destroying that all-important first impression. It can be suggestive of a vendor who has not lavished much attention on their property, and this may cause a buyer to wonder if this extends beyond the obvious. Have maintenance issues also been neglected over the years? Are there repairs that need to be made that may only come to light further down the road? Doubts such as these can be enough to give a buyer second thoughts and ruin the chance of a sale.

The need to repair any outstanding problems with your home should go without saying. Buyers may not want to tackle repairs themselves, or may not want the expense and hassle of contracting someone else to do them. They may also get worried that if one repair needs to be done, there may be a whole host of them begging for attention.

For a vendor to be successful, they need to visually check that everything looks in good order, and physically check that this is the case. Perhaps there’s a door in your house that you haven’t shut in years. A buyer may want to close it, because ill-fitting doors can be a sign of subsidence. If it snags and fails to close, your buyer may want to walk. Even before they enter your house, you need to make sure that they are not already put off. Is the garden fence rotting and falling apart? Is the driveway cracking? Is the gate hanging on one hinge? Does your front doorbell work? Buyers who can overlook repairs will certainly not do so when it comes to negotiating a price, or they may present you with a “snag list” you need to rectify for the sale to go ahead. Far better that such a list is impossible to compile because there are no issues.

It can be a good idea to bring in an honest friend to give your house a good look-over and report anything they would have a problem with if they were viewing. You may have grown so used to something being a certain way that you don’t even recognise the need to put it right. Areas like the grouting in the bathroom may need attention, even though you may have lived with grey/black grout that used to be white for many years.

Paint & Renew

Your home needs to look fresh for potential buyers. A new coat of emulsion on the walls in a neutral colour can achieve this effect for very little financial outlay if you do it yourself. Of course there is effort involved, but a quick and healthy sale may well be your reward. As much as buyers will notice that a house is freshly painted, and will appreciate the fact that they won’t have to do it themselves, they may not consciously register when one hasn’t been painted. Instead, they may just wander around with a general feeling that everything looks a little tired, and this is even worse than knowing exactly what the problem is. Identifiable problems can be rectified; vague nagging doubts about a property that cannot be pinned down are liable to make a buyer look elsewhere. Don’t neglect the exterior of your home either. Buyers want a house they can be proud of, and a sparkling exterior gives that instant impression and is a vital part of the “kerb appeal” of your home. If you are not sure what may need doing, take a walk around the neighbourhood and see which houses catch your eye.

They are more likely to be the ones that are cleanest and brightest. Faded and flaking paint will do you no favours, and it may even cause a buyer to drive right by without stopping if they consider that the scruffy exterior could be a reflection of what they can expect to find inside. It can be a hard decision to spend money on a property you are about to leave, but it pays dividends if done wisely. Sometimes, a dramatic improvement can achieved for minimal outlay. For example, an outdated kitchen does not mean it needs ripping out completely. Tired units can be veneered to appear modern, or the addition of new cupboard doors may do the trick. Remember that any furniture you need to update will be going with you anyway, so it is not wasted money. Again, don’t assume a buyer will be able to envisage their gorgeous suite in your living room if it is currently dominated by a sagging sofa you’ve had since the sixties. The impression they may receive is that your living room is simply not nice, and the cerebral leap to imagine it updated may not be possible for the less imaginative viewer.

Stage Your Home

This is a house-selling trick that certainly works. This is the final stage of the process, after all of the above has been taken care of. This involves presenting your home like the aforementioned show-house on a new housing development. Place-settings are laid out on the dining room table, with wines glasses and an unopened bottle of wine. Cushions are strategically placed to make the sofa look more inviting. Beds are made and dressed with fine linen throws. Flowers and new bushes are planted in the front garden (to be taken when you leave). Ground coffee is set to percolate and fill the house with its enticing aroma, or potpourri is laid out to fragrance the atmosphere. Think of the theatre when staging your property, which is the natural connotation with the word “stage”.

You are creating a specific look so that the audience (the buyer) is instantly transported to the place you want them to be – which is a buying mood. For some vendors, staging their home can seem disingenuous; almost like they’re lying to the buyer. You are presenting your home in a way it has never been seen before. However, the buyer doesn’t know this and it wouldn’t matter if they did. It is perfectly natural to want to present your home in the best possible light. If you were selling your car you would presumably wash it and polish it outside, and clean its upholstery and shine the dash inside, and maybe hang an air freshener for good measure. You may never have done any of these things for yourself, but no buyer would question your motive for doing so in an effort to sell it.

Staging Checklist

Here are some ideas you may want to consider for when a potential buyer visits your home:

  • Furniture, ornaments, and pictures – How these are placed can have a dramatic effect on how people perceive your home. If you have a good eye for this, then go ahead and start moving things around. If interior design is a foreign language, then seek the advice of someone you know whose house looks fantastic, or track down a professional house stager.
  • Lighting – Allow plenty of natural light into your home. If the viewing is at night, or it’s a dull day, make sure the house is well-lit, unless you are trying to create an initial special ambience when entering a certain room. If this is the aim, then allow a few moments with the staged lighting before revealing the room in full brightness. Make sure you do show the room in full brightness or the buyer may suspect you are trying to hide something. Before they leave the room, you can drop it back to its staged lighting levels to leave the buyer with a more cosy impression.
  • Heating – Create a comfortable room temperature of around 70F. If necessary, adjust the heating or air-con to achieve this. An open window and a cool breeze is a particularly welcoming note on a warm day.
  • Electrics – Don’t have TVs, radios, computers or games consoles on when a viewing is in progress. Soft and relaxing music may be played if desired. If you have kids, make sure they know not to activate anything distracting until the viewing ends.
  • Bed and bath linen – Make the beds and dress them if you really want to create a good impression, and leave fresh towels hanging neatly in the bathroom. These look good and should smell of conditioner rather than the often dank smell you get from used towels.
  • Aromas – The smell of fresh coffee brewing away or of recently-baked cakes or bread is a commonly suggested ploy. It’s likely to be recognised as such, but it shows you’re making the effort. This is far better than an aerosol being sprayed copiously throughout the house, which may be overpowering and could easily suggest you are trying to mask something offensive. (Tough as it may be, smokers should really refrain from smoking in the house from the moment they decide to sell the place. After that, a deep clean and a paint job should hopefully remove signs that a smoker has been in residence. Nonsmokers can run a mile from homes that smell of cigarette smoke.)
  • Kitchen – Put all dishes away. Keep taps clean, and the sink clean and empty. De-clutter the kitchen counters and put gadgets away. Straighten chairs and tables. Take out any rubbish so it doesn’t smell.
  • Toilet/bathroom – Sanitise everything, and keep the shower and bath areas dry. Open the shower curtain so the buyer doesn’t have to. Put the toilet lids down.
  • Outside – Thoroughly tidy up the yard and garden, and make it look as beautiful as you can. If you have pets clear up after them, and keep them outside during the viewing. Keep your driveway and garage clear of vehicles.
  • General – Open all interior doors. Close wardrobes, cupboards and push drawers right in. Open all blinds and curtains during the day. Open windows if the weather allows for it to let in fresh air.
  • House etiquette – You could ask that potential buyers remove their shows, provided everything is clean enough to look like this is a normal house-rule. Such a request suggests an impressive level of cleanliness.
  • Home information pack – This is very useful so that potential buyers are able to refer to it when the viewing is over to remind themselves of your home’s plus points. It also serves to keep your home in their mind by providing a concrete reminder of it.
  • Local information – Potential buyers can arrive from anywhere and may not know the local area. Make sure you are able to answer the standard questions about amenities, schools, transport etc. This could be included in the home information pack. Staging your home is an important part of achieving a quick and profitable sale. Should you be unclear of what exactly needs to be done, there are professional home stagers who can be hired in to create the most favourable impression for your home. However, do check their credentials or you may end up with someone who has watched a couple of TV shows on the subject and fancies a new career.

In Conclusion

Many vendors can be their own worst enemy when it comes to selling their home. They are too much in love with the house they have created over the years and stubbornly refuse to accept that other people may not feel quite so positive about it. Depending on the state of your home when you decide to sell it, the effort and cost of sorting it out will vary. But unless it is in show-house condition already, some effort and cost will certainly be involved. This is a truth you must accept when preparing your home for sale. If you are looking for a hassle-free way to sell your home without the astronomical agent fees, then visit our website For Sale For Lease (www.ForSaleForLease.com.au) or contact us via the following options. We would be honoured to help you sell your home in record time.