Want to sell your property for the most the market is prepared to pay? If the answer is yes, read on!
Property is the largest and most valuable asset most people own. And one of the biggest things that influences your sale price (apart from selecting the right agent) is presentation.
“Real estate has become like Tinder, if people don’t like what they see they’ll swipe and move on” – Tom Panos
Poorly presented and maintained properties are like a red flag to buyers, often attracting little interest and typically being heavily discounted when sold.
Conversely, properties that are prepared for sale and presented in what I call selling, rather than living, condition tend to attract significantly more buyer interest and achieve higher sale prices.
So what do we mean by selling condition?
When buyers look at properties they are typically asking themselves one of two questions:
- Can I see myself living here?
Or, if it’s an investment property,
- Would a tenant want to live here?
Buyers aren’t buying your property, they are buying theirs. The more broadly a property appeals and the less a buyer needs to do, the more likely you are to attract more offers, generate competition between buyers and achieve the best possible price outcome. This doesn’t mean undertaking major renovations or replacing kitchens and bathrooms, just applying a bit of elbow grease and making some simple changes to make your property more appealing to more buyers, as well as dealing with obvious maintenance issues to minimise or remove buyer objections.
Most of these tips are common sense, and none of them are new, but hopefully the points below serve as a handy checklist to help you get ready to hit the market, create a great first impression and stand out that bit further from the competition.
Start at the street
Your buyers will judge your home by its street appeal, so you should too.
- Does the property look well kept and maintained?
- Can you see the house or is it obscured by greenery?
- Do the fences and/or gates need repairing or painting?
- What’s the condition of the driveway?
- What condition are the carport or garage in? Do they need repainting? Does the garage door need washing?
- Do the gardens need weeding and mulching? Could they do with a spot of colour?
- Are there any dead plants that need removing or plants that need trimming?
- Could the lawn do with a weed, feed, mow and edging?
- How are the gutters and fascias? Are there signs of visual wear and tear on the house that need repairing and/or repainting?
- Do the external lights work?
- What is the path to the house like? Is there uneven paving that needs to be repaired or weeds that need to be killed and removed?
Entering the home…
First impressions count, so it’s worthwhile making sure it’s a good one.
- Is the front entrance clean and welcoming? Could it do with a pot plant (or two) to add colour and interest?
- If you have a verandah, is there room for a small table and chair/s?
- Do you need a new doormat? (you can pick a new one up very cheaply from IKEA)
- Could your front door and security screens do with a wash and/or paint? Do they need repairing?
- What’s the first thing you see as you enter through the front door? Does it make the right impression? What does it say about the property?
Work through the property room by room, making notes on what you want/need to do as you go.
- Rule no. 1: de-clutter and de-personalise – you’re moving anyway, so you may as well get started with the packing! Consider investing in some inexpensive home storage options like cubes, baskets or boxes to hide away family photos, toys, collections and other personal items. Donate all those clothes and excess homewares you keep meaning to get rid of to charity. Get a skip. Utilise the spare room in the garage or shed to store items you want to keep or if the budget allows, consider hiring a storage unit for the period of the sale.
- Clean marks off walls and doors, remove posters, patch & paint cracks in walls or cornices, consider repainting feature walls a neutral colour and touch up skirtings and architraves. Repainting can be a great way to quickly and easily freshen and update a property and increase its buyer appeal.
- Repair or replace broken or dim globes and light fittings.
- Clean all tiles, carpets and floorcoverings.
- Clean the windows.
- Clean or replace dirty and broken blinds and window treatments. Consider replacing dark or dated curtains with inexpensive, neutrally coloured ones or simple blinds.
- Repair leaking taps or plumbing fixtures.
- An easy and cheap way to update a property is to replace old and worn tapware, door handles and bathroom accessories and fittings with new, inexpensive, chrome ones.
- Clean (or replace if cracked) shower screens or buy new, neutral shower curtains (white is always good).
- Repair & clean grout for tiles if needed and consider replacing silicone around the bath, shower or vanities if in poor condition or stained with mould and mildew.
- Replace or repair cracked and loose powerpoints.
- Dust & de-cobweb.
- Give each room a specific purpose. Rooms that are utilised for too many things (ie a combined lounge and home office) confuse buyers and often appear smaller than what they are. Similarly, if a bedroom can fit a double bed, it’s best to show it with one in it if possible. Remove old, worn or excess furniture and arrange remaining items to increase the sense of spaciousness and flow in each room but avoid having rooms empty or underfurnished if you can – buyers struggle to gauge the size of underfurnished spaces as much as over furnished ones.
- Clean out wardrobes and storage cupboards – the better organised they are the more spacious they appear.
- In the kitchen, ensure your stove top, oven, workbenches and front of the fridge are spotless. Clean your cupboards and pantry shelves.
- Remove all personal care items (shampoos, soaps, etc. etc.) from the shower and vanity in the bathroom for photos and home opens
- Replace cracked, yellowed or worn toilet seats and ensure toilets are in good repair.
- If you have pets, remove them and as much trace of them as possible for the photos and home opens. Use a room freshener if needed to get rid of pet odours.
- Don’t overdo it on the smells! A couple of simple and subtle scented candles or sticks placed strategically around the home are good, but too many competing smells are distracting and will be off putting to buyers.
Alfresco, pool and backyard…
Perth has great weather for outdoor living and entertaining – does your patio, courtyard or backyard show a buyer how they could make the most of the space?
- Apply the same rules as street appeal to rear fences, gardens, lawns, paving, sheds, patio structures, paths etc.
- Replace or remove broken or worn outdoor furniture, clean the BBQ
- If you have one, clean the pool or spa and surrounds and ensure pool fences and gates comply with council requirements and are in good working order
- Pressure clean paving if needed
- If you have a kids cubby that has seen better days, or trampoline taking up too much space, remove them.
- Consider painting or screening ugly fences.
- Fix any broken outdoor taps or reticulation.
- Sweep decks and paving and clean up any dog poo before photos and home opens!
The finishing touches…
And if you really want your place to stand out and wow buyers, consider these additional 5 tips from my property stylist:
- Pimp the bedrooms! Crisp white bedlinen, a textured throw and lots of plump cushions in mixed textures and complementary colours will help to create a sense of luxury, as will matching bedside tables and attractive bedside lighting (ensure lampshades aren’t too small). A good sized painting, print or mirror can also interest and work wonders. Spotlight, KMart and Target are all great for inexpensive items that can make bedrooms really pop and check out Pinterest for bed and bedroom styling ideas. Keep items on top of chests of drawers or on bedside tables to a minimum.
- Consider buying some inexpensive, light coloured textured rugs (again IKEA) to brighten up carpets, tiles or floorboards in bedrooms and living areas and add a sense of warmth to spaces. Be generous with cushions and throws on chairs and lounges but never (ever) arrange cushions on an angle.
- Dress the bathroom with plain white towels, put away floor mats and keep decorator items on the vanity to a minimum. A scented candle or sticks (a fragrance that is simple and subtle works best) will help add a sense of freshness.
- Let their be light! Open up your blinds and curtains to let the natural light in for home opens and consider buying standing floorlamps to add light to dull or dark corners in lounge or living spaces.
- Indoor plants are back in fashion! Tall indoor plants and palms can look great in a corner or consider buying some of those inexpensive plant stands to add a pot with some glossy greenery. Don’t have a green thumb? Buy cheap and cheerful fake IKEA plants for your bathrooms, kitchen and/or laundry.
And finally, the most important rule, do what’s sustainable! If this list seems like too much, don’t do it! Priced well, your home will still sell. And a great agent will be able to give you strategies for getting the best price outcome in the current market irrespective of presentation. I’ve sold a home without power, running water or a bedroom ceiling and homes that needed to be completely gutted and re-fitted before they could be lived in – all with multiple offers.
But if you can and do have the time and ability to implement these tips, it will be the best investment in your selling price you could ever make.