Obviously, when selling your house you want the top dollar so it’s important to take the time to make sure your house is well presented. If you home is immaculate, it may be as simple as a tidy up and clean, but for many, including me I had to make a few changes to get the house ready for sale, have it well presented but still have character to showcase its liveabilty and lifestyle. Below I share my top tips to get your house ready for sale, based on recently selling our house.
Top tips to get your house ready for sale
When selling it’s really hard to say goodbye to so many happy memories, but you need to let go of emotions and focus on selling the house, soon it will no longer be yours, you need to make it easy for a potential buyer to vision themselves in the home.
Find a good agent
Depending how much time you have you should visit a few open homes in your area to get to know the agents and how they sell their homes, this can help you decide if you’re comfortable with them selling your home. Ensure they are:
- well mannered
- well presented
- will follow up with people who visited the home
- the price they suggest to sell the house at is sensible and achievable
- they have sold houses in your local area recently
It is said that the first few seconds are vital when someone is looking at your home. Make sure:
PHOTOS ARE ENTICING – the photos in the agents window and on the internet are showcasing your home well. Most buyers start their journey of looking for a new home online so ensure that your home is presentable before the photos are taken.
IT HAS CURB APPEAL – ensure the gardens look good, remove weeds, make sure the grass is mowed and it’s clean. It’s a great idea to spend a few $$ to put in some brightly coloured flowers to help improve the look of a bland garden bed.
THE ENTRANCE IS INVITING – place some potted flowers next to your front door if you have the space.
You never have a second chance to make a good first impression.
Fix any damage to the home
Fix holes in walls, broken appliances etc, as the idea of having to repair the home after they move in may deter a buyer from purchasing. Find a local handy man in your area to help with this. Ask the advice of your real estate agent before making major changes, such as painting the house or replacing carpets as the expense may not affect the sales price.
Read more: my diary of getting our house ready for sale, we were going to paint the house, but decided on a cheaper option.
Too much furniture
Having too much furniture in a room will make it feel smaller than it is. If you are able to, remove the furniture to help make the room look more spacious. Place the furniture in the garage or better still hire a storage shed.
My son had loads of trophies and his awesome lego cabinet in his room, but it made the room look very cluttered and small. Packing away the trophies and removing the red unit created so much extra space.
Remove personalised items
Remove all your personal items, so the prospective buyer can step back and imagine themselves in the home and not be distracted from your items. These can be:
- Family photos
- Travel items
- Kids height charts
- Quirky keepsake ornaments
You want the buyer to imagine their photos on the wall and this is hard to do if yours is there.
before – personal photos
after – less cluttered and still a lovely space the buyer can imagine themselves living in.
GENERAL – If you find the thought of decluttering the home before sale daunting start with the larger areas such as the kitchen, lounge room and main bedroom. If your home is cluttered put it in the garage, it’s better to have a tidy living room than a tidy garage, the living room will sell the home more than the garage.
KITCHEN – For convenience you may keep chopping boards, utensils, knife blocks on the kitchen bench. Clean everything off the benchtops to help make the kitchen look spacious.
CUPBOARDS – Don’t forget to tidy your cupboards, storage is something every buyer wants in a new home. Remove half the items you have in the cupboards and neatly organise it. Your home may have ample storage but if it doesn’t have enough you don’t want to make it obvious that storage could be a problem.
ALL SURFACES – My agent asked me to remove all ornaments off surfaces and keep just one item on each. Whilst it did give a very minimal look it made the room look more appealing.
WALLS – Even having too many pictures on the wall can clutter a space making the room feel smaller. Don’t forget about the posters on the kids wall, removing them will instantly make a positive difference to the room.
before – bold images on the wall, armchair making the space look crowded
after – without the armchair and butterflies on the wall it really does open up this area. I did leave the black framed photos of my kids on the wall (to the left of the photo below) because I was concerned about the buyer seeing all the holes in the wall, so I decided to leave them there. You can also see through to the room behind, removing the cabinet at the back also makes the house flow nicely.
Once you have finished decluttering start at the front of the house and walk through it like you are a buyer, ensure that you are able to move freely without obstructions.
You want to show your house at its best, clean the floors, pick up any mess, wipe benches etc. But also ensure the bathrooms are tidy, no toothpaste in the sink, hair over the vanity, lotions in cabinets etc. Make sure you remember to clean the following areas.
- wash windows
- dust blinds
- clean window coverings
- dust skirting boards
- light switches
- clean walls
- clean the oven
- clean the dishwasher
- clear away cobwebs
When I was inspecting homes to buy one of my biggest pet hates was seeing other people’s things in the bathroom, I know while selling a house you still need to live in it, but I just didn’t like. I kept our shower items in a plastic peg basket so when I got a call that the agent was coming around with some potential buyers I could just pick up the caddy and know the shower was tidy. This maybe a bit extreme, and I can’t really explain why it errked me so much, but it just did.
Another thing my agent asked us to do was to remove the towels from the bathrooms. I had salmon pink towels, and he said it can be simple things that people may not like a particular colour and it can sway them from the feel of the house. So on inspection days I bundled the towels into the washing basket and put them in the car with me, along with the caddy above and the cat (in a cat carrier of course)!
Whilst splashes of colour are refreshing they can appear dominant. If you can place neutral coloured linen on the bed and cushions on the lounge.
I removed my colourful cushions from the lounge and replaced with beige.
At first I thought this idea was ludicrous and a little bland, but the neutral tones do help the buyer to visualise their own furnishings in the room.
We removed the dots off my daughters bedroom wall. Whilst we thought they were gorgeous, the buyers may not and they may also question how hard they would be to remove and think they may need to repaint the wall. They were super easy to remove as they are vinyl peeling off very easily without marking the walls. You can find some really fun and quirky wall decals here.
Smell can make either a positive or negative impact on a home. The house needs to be fresh and inviting, it’s very important to do your best to eliminate any odours from pets or cigarettes. This can be done by giving the house a good clean.
On inspection day don’t go to the extent of having something baking in the oven, simply open up a few windows, let the fresh air in and burn a candle. You want the candle to be lightly scented, nothing too overpowering, and steer clear of incense. Place the candle in a walk through area.
Conceal the pets
We all love our pets, but others may not feel the same way, not everybody is a dog or cat lover. Put away the litter and food during inspections as these can be smelly.
I took our cat out with me when inspections were on in the house, for a few reasons, she’s an indoor cat and I was worried somebody may let her out and I didn’t want the knowledge of a cat living in the home to impact on the sale. Even though I strive really hard to keep our home smelling pet free I still got a friend to visit and make sure it didn’t smell like cat.
Get yourself out of the house
It’s hard for the buyers to imagine themselves in your home if you’re there. Give them the freedom to open the cupboard doors without feeling like they are snooping and that they can take their time looking through the home without you lurking around. Go for a walk, a drive, get a coffee, allow your agent to do their job and the buyers the space they need, get yourself out of the house during inspection times.
Always be ready for inspection
The house needs to be ready for inspection at all times and at a moments notice as you really never know when a buyer may walk through your door. ie, before you leave for work make sure the house is presentable. This can be a little inconvenient, especially if you have kids, but this will help you sell your home.
Make sure all beds are neat and tidy, unmade beds make a room look messy and this can be distracting to the buyers.
- lights on
- open all the curtains/blinds
- open windows
- light candle
- remove towels
- clear away clutter in the bathroom
- put away pet items
- beds made
- clean and put away dirty dishes
Now that you have the house well presented it’s a great idea to get a friend to walk through the house and offer any tips that you may have overlooked, ie can they smell your pet, do they find a particular area crowded etc.