A clean, appealing and well maintained home has much better odds of selling for more, and selling faster than one that is not. When looking at your house, the thing you need to keep repeating to yourself is that “first impressions are lasting impressions.” This couldn’t be truer when it comes to selling real estate.
This doesn’t mean that you should take on a major renovation project just so that you can sell your property. Instead, have a look at the different cosmetic improvements that can be made for an overall improvement. These can include things such as cleaning, painting, refinishing, and other such efforts.
So instead of tackling any huge project, just focus on making the home attractive, clean, presentable, and well maintained. This guide will take you all around your property and tell you the very things that you can do to add value and get the most out of your sale!
Read on or download your free guide pdf here!
BEFORE WE BEGIN
Get A Professional Home Inspection!
Most buyers will have a professional home building inspection done anyway, but if you do it ahead of time, then you can take care of any necessary repairs before it goes onto the market.
Depending on your area, and what kind of home you have, this will probably cost between $200 and $400 to have done, but it can be well worth the effort. Why? This will allow you to get an exact idea of any maintenance issues that may come up and attend to these before the buyer even steps through the door.
If you’re not certain who to hire, ask your real estate agent, and he or she will be able to recommend several quality inspectors.
CHECK OUT OUTSIDE
There isn’t a real estate agent in existence who wouldn’t tell you that one of the most important terms that you can learn when you’re trying to sell your house is “street appeal.”
Therefore, while you’re sprucing up your home, it’s wise to start on the outside, and work your way in. Begin by taking a good walk around your yard to give yourself an idea of what you’re up against, and then use the following tips as a checklist to get yourself on the right track.
If you take the effort to ensure that the outside of your home is appealing, then it will make certain that potential buyers will want to look at the interior as well. Therefore, it’s obvious that you should work on the outside of your home for precisely that reason.
So let’s get started with the tips…
TIP 1 – TIDY UP
Take the time to walk around your property wearing good thick gloves, and carrying a garbage bag. Pick up every bit of refuse, yard waste, and other unsightly things, and throw them away. When the garbage is gone, do another lap and remove all of the clutter outside. This can include things such as:
• Kids’ toys
• Yard tools (wheelbarrows, lawn mowers, weeding tools, hoses etc.)
• Pot plants that are not flourishing
• Garden ornaments that may be too polarizing to potential buyers and narrow your market
Depending on how you usually keep your property, this one effort can make a staggering difference to the outer appearance of your home.
TIP 2 – TRIM SHRUBBERY & HEDGES
Shrubbery and other greenery that has an unkempt appearance can often be misconstrued as a sign of neglect, and gives a bad impression of your house overall.Prospective homebuyers who see shrubbery that has not been well maintained may not even be aware of their observation, but it will have an impact on the way they view your property as a whole.
If they do observe the unkempt shrubbery directly, they may make the assumption that the rest of the home has not been properly maintained. Keep bushes and shrubs neat, and well-shaped, to give the overall impression that the entire property has been well cared for. For that added touch, try to keep the shrubbery in line with the other greenery and outdoor decorations that you have on your property. This will be even more eye-pleasing from the street level, creating more interest.
Should the size of your shrubbery be such that it makes walking up to your home a challenge, you should consider taking them out. Shrubbery that is too large not only makes the home appear much smaller, but it also creates a potential hazard. This may also make prospective buyers think of it as a hindrance because they’ll think of it as something that will need to be taken care of; this even before they’ve even entered your home.
Upgrade of shrubbery and hedges is a very inexpensive task that you can do yourself, and it shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours of your time to get done. If you don’t have the time, the ability, or the inclination to trim the shrubbery, don’t just let it go. Instead, a professional will be well worth the small investment in the end.
With a bit of luck, you’ll only need to do this part once before your home is sold – a one time effort that will go a very long way.
TIP 3 – LACKLUSTER PLANTS MUST GO!
If your garden clean up and de-clutter has revealed a few plants that look like they are on their last legs it is best to remove them now.
Hopefully this will not be all of your plants! If this causes substantial gaps, replace with inexpensive and easy to maintain plants that will fill the obvious holes.
The best place to get advice on what will work in your area is by visiting the local nursery. Alternatively, have a look around your local area, find a garden that is thriving and check out what they have planted. This will give you a great indication of what grows well in your local environment. Remember that this process is all about creating an impact for a small financial investment, so visit your local markets for affordable plants and don’t go overboard.
TIP 4 -BRIGHTEN UP YOUR GARDEN
If your tidy up has left your garden looking a little empty, plant bright flowers which will liven up the exterior of your home inexpensively and easily. Remember that annuals are cheaper than perennials, so they’ll suit your purpose perfectly. Keep in mind also that mixing bright colours like pink and yellow give a much happier appearance to the home than darker colours like deep purples.
Flowers are an especially nice touch under windows, on decks and in flowerpots. They create a special level of warmth and depth, making your property appear cared for as well as enjoyed. Use these strategically and concentrate on first impressions; for example put pots by the front door or planting around the entrance to the home first.
Mulch is a sellers best friend. Very few things brighten up and tidy up a garden like mulch does. Once you have completed the steps above place a fresh layer of mulch. Not only does it tidy up the look of the garden it also helps keep the weeds at bay for at least the sale period. The best way to ensure that you are not spending your valuable time during the sale period weeding gardens is to remove or poison all the weeds and rouge grass in the garden beds a good week or so before you are going to lay the mulch. This will allow enough time for the active ingredients in the weed killer to take effect. The fresh layer of mulch will then cover the dying weeds and prevent new ones appearing whilst you are trying to sell.
TIP 5 – MOW THE LAWN
A property that has a well manicured lawn has one of the best chances at showing pride in ownership than any other outdoor technique. For one thing, there is a large upswing in the priority that homeowners place in their outdoor living spaces.
Therefore, the landscaping of your front yard (especially) as well as that of your back yard should look its very best when it’s selling time. Your landscaping will make a huge contribution to the resale value of your home, so make sure that it’s doing its best to help you out.
Studies have shown that when the landscaping of a home is in excellent condition, it can sell for about 4 to 5 percent higher, while homes with landscaping in very poor condition can sell for 8 to 10 percent less. That’s a huge difference in the overall selling price of your home.
You might be wondering exactly how much time you should dedicate to sprucing up the landscape of your property. How much time and money is worth it for your sale? Even if you put a minimal amount of money, effort, and time in to your landscaping, it will help you in selling your home, and perhaps even getting a boost in the selling price. Every effort you make will help.
TIP 6 -LIVIN’ IT UP
If there are any “bald” patches in your lawn, buy a small bag of seed and care for the spot, filling it in. This is especially important if you have a dog who digs or who leaves “pet damage” where s/he does his or her business.
After you fill in these dead spots, make sure to water the areas after your dog “urinates,” to prevent new dead patches from forming.
Watering the areas will dilute the urine to stop it from burning the grass. This effort makes an immeasurable difference in the overall neatness of the house, and the impression that it will leave potential buyers.
TIP 7- MAINTENANCE & REPAIRS
After taking a beating from the elements, and having worn from time, verandah railings have been known to become wobbly. This is a safety hazard, to say the least, and it’s also very unattractive.
Railings that are loose can damage the steps to which they’re attached. This can only mean a higher cost for repairs that are made, in order to ensure that the steps are safe. If your railing is a bit loose, have a good look at it. Many times all that is required is a tightening of bolts, and the railing is as good as new.
At times, if the railings have been screwed into the brick of your home, the sheath may have broken or worn down. If this happens to your railing, you need to replace the sheath. Don’t worry; this is not an expensive repair. You can buy them at any hardware store.
When you remove the screws and sheaths to replace them, the railing will come off, so be sure you’re ready to support it and then put it somewhere. You’ll need a screwdriver and about twenty minutes to accomplish this task. Once the new sheath is in place, just screw the railing back on. Make sure to test the railing for security when you get it on again. If you are extremely challenged in the home-repair department, or if you simply don’t have a moment to spare, you can always hire a professional to do the job.
TIP 8 – TOUCH UP PAINTING
A large number of houses are made out of brick, with small amounts of wooden or Colourbond™ trim. These painted surfaces are usually located on verandahs, decks and small areas on the ends of your home.
As time passes, these wood pieces have a tendency to become worn, with cracked and dull looking paint. Give your wooden accents a touch up of paint and the entire exterior of your home will have a fresh new look. Concentrate on the front porches, verandahs and entry ways.
Depending on how much you have, once you purchase the right amount of exterior paint, it shouldn’t take you more than two or three hours to finish this task.
Occasionally, you may need to sand the area before you can paint it. Sanding helps the new paint cure much better than if you’d applied it directly onto the old paint – especially if the previous coat had a cracked surface. Also have a look at the paint on the downspout, gutters, and anywhere else that has paint. None of these should be cracked, faded or peeling. If they are: repaint.
TIP 9 – VISIBLE HOUSE NUMBERS
Though this may seem like a rather silly little task, it will make all the difference when it comes to selling your home. This isn’t because potential buyers want to see clear numbers before they purchase your home – it’s because they need to be able to find your home if they want to find out more about it, or have a look. If a prospective buyer can’t find your home due to a lack of visible house numbers, all of your other efforts to create lovely curb appeal may have been in vain.
If your house number is carved into the exterior surface of the building, be certain that it can still be seen from the street. If the numbers are a struggle to see, and they are recessed into the brick or stone, simply paint the numbers a crisp, clean color, so that they will stand out. A simple technique for completing this task quickly and easily is by using a cotton swab which has been dipped into paint. Carefully apply this into the engraved numbers. You’ll be surprised at what a professional result you can achieve. House numbers that have been mounted onto the house, such as over the garage, should also be visible from the street. Make sure they’re in good condition, and still match your home.
Perhaps the house has gone through some changes since the numbers went up, and now they’re not quite so stylish anymore.
If the house numbers are rusty, if they have pieces missing, or if a number is missing it’s a good idea to paint or replace them. They are readily available at hardware stores and home building centres, and you can obtain some pleasant looking ones inexpensively. It will make a big difference to your prospective buyers.
The same goes for numbers that are located on mailboxes. If they are incomplete, torn, or otherwise unattractive, simply replace them or stencil new ones onto the mailbox. This makes your home easier to find, more inviting, and gives an impression that your home has been well cared for.
TIP 10 – THE GATEWAY TO THE HOME
In wanting to present a well maintained property with little to do, simple and inexpensive things to consider are your front gate and letter box. If the letter box or front gate is rusted out or if the paint has been stripped off due to weather exposure then it needs attending to. If you can get away with it, a scrub back and a good coat of paint will make sure that the letter box does not let you down when considering your property’s first impressions.
Similarly if the gate does not open well or along with the letterbox is crooked and half falling off the hinges then it certainly needs your attention. You don’t want ill repair detracting from the property.
TIP 11 – BEAUTIFY THE FRONT ENTRANCE
The front entrance, including the front door, the verandah and the windows frame is the transition from the outside to the inside of your property. When prospective clients – or the real estate agent – knock on the door, or open it, there will be a moment where they pause right in the entry, and will get a very detailed impression of your home. These are also an important focal point when it comes to street appeal, so be certain that they’re in tip-top shape. This is where the future owners, as well as all of their guests will enter their new home. It will be important to the eye and to the heart.
The door itself must look sharp. A fresh coat of paint can make all the difference to creating the appearance of a pleasant, inviting, and well- maintained home. Be certain that the hardware – such as the doorknob, the latch, the hinges, etc – are all freshly painted or polished clean. It gives an extra level of overall attractiveness.
Other useful steps to improve the entryway include:
• Bright, functioning porch lights
• A new (un-tattered) mat, preferably with no welcome note or text.
If you have a doorbell, make sure that it is working, or remove it altogether. So too the front light. One of the things that can create the worst impression for your home is to have basic elements not functioning properly. This will make the prospective buyer wonder what else has not been your top priority for maintenance.
TIP 12 – EXTERIOR CLEANING
After the improvements to the properties front entrance have been made, have a look at the overall building.
• Are the walls of the property clean?
• Are the windows clean?
• Are the gutters clean from the outside?
• Are corners and indents free of spider webs and vines?
• Is the walkway clean enough that it has a defined edge, and doesn’t have mud or other dirt creeping over the sides or across the middle?
• How about the stairs?
Remember, your goal for the best possible street appeal is a neat, clean, well maintained, welcoming atmosphere. Take care of these different factors to clean up the external presentation of your home. All of these items can be easily performed in a few hours with a broom and a high pressure water cleaner, and they’ll make an enormous difference for selling your property.
INSIDE OF THE PROPERTY
Now that the outside has been beautified, and you’ve mastered street appeal, it’s time to move on to the inside of your home.
Just like there was a lot of little things you could do to make an overwhelming difference to the outside of your home, there’s lots of great projects you can tackle inside, without having to spend a great deal of money.
The following tips will guide you through the inside of your home in general, and then progress to each area of your home, to make sure that you’re maximising its potential.
The world of real estate is becoming more sophisticated in its understanding of what sells. In this sense, there is a much better comprehension of how we should be presenting our homes for sale.
There is a whole knack to being able to properly “stage” a home these days. Fortunately, much of the leg work can be completed with some hard work and professional guidance. However, when you are looking to style the home for sale it is important to get solid advice. To style your home to sell, you need a combined knowledge of the market, real estate and a solid foundation in design skills.
A well styled home is like romancing your buyer with your house, so you’ll want to set the mood and make sure it is the right one.
TIP 13 – THREE STEPS FOR EVERY ROOM
In each of your rooms, you should have three primary goals:
1. Depersonalise the room by taking away family pictures, removing everything from your refrigerator door and other similar surfaces, and taking posters and trophies out of kids’ rooms.
2. Clear away high-traffic areas of excess furnishings and other belongings, to give the highest impression of space and comfort.
3. Highlight the primary features of every room, making sure that they have not been hidden or obscured by furnishings, plants, or other belongings.
Such primary features include but are not limited to: Fireplaces, architectural features and views.
Beyond these three principles, keep the following tips in mind when you prepare your house to be sold.
TIP 14 – MAKE SPACE
Clear out excess furniture and accessories from the interior of your home as much as possible. If a piece of furniture is too big for the room, or is crowding the room, put it in storage, have a garage sale, or give it to a deserving charity. This also goes for decorations, accessories and other items that you may have collected over the years. Anything that takes up space should be considered, and if it’s not necessary, you’ll want to clear it out.
Nothing is more effective at opening up a house than getting rid of clutter. It will look immeasurably more spacious without all of your extra things in the way. Pay special attention to keeping hallways and doorways clear. Not only will this make the prospective buyer feel that they will be purchasing a spacious home, they can easier imagine their own things inside of it.
There is a very fine line between removing enough and leaving the place feeling empty and unwelcoming. So be sure to get an objective or professional opinion on this one.
TIP 15 – THE VALUE OF SURFACE SPACE
Go through your house and clear off all of the horizontal surfaces, kitchen counters, and bathroom countertops. This means that you won’t be leaving any magazines, knick-knacks, or other various items to add to a cluttered appearance in your home. Either pack them or get rid of them in some other way.
TIP 16 – THE NOSE KNOWS
The property should smell good. When it comes to selling the house, your property should smell great! If they exist make sure to get rid of the following smells:
• Pet odours
• Stale cooking/food smells
• Cigarette smoke
Smell makes an enormous impact on people when they enter a home. While smokers and pet owners may not even notice the smells in their home, having become quite accustomed to them – they may be an overwhelming turn-off for potential buyers. In this case, have a non- smoking, non-pet owning friend come over to assess whether you have managed to eradicate these odours. Be sure you choose someone who will be honest with you and not tell you what they think you want to hear.
While it used to be recommended that you bake bread or steam cinnamon potpourri before a potential buyer is to come through, it’s no longer recommended. The same goes for spray air fresheners. If you insist upon adding a scent to your home, make it a very, very – lightly scented candle, or scented oil.
The best way to get rid of scent problems in a property isn’t to cover them up, but instead, it’s to remove them at the source. Recommended techniques for accomplishing this include:
• Scrubbing the house
• Having the air vents cleaned
• Replacing old, smelly carpeting
• Smoking outdoors, well away from entrances and windows
• Cleaning carpets and drapery
TIP 17 – BUYERS ARE HUMAN TOO
Research shows that very few buyers want to take on large projects within the home. They want to be able to move in and be happy with what they’ve bought.
If your property is in need of work, such as:
• Old, dated wallpaper
• Ratty carpeting
• Cracked or peeling paint
• Cracked, broken, or missing tiles
• Other similar projects
You should tackle these tasks before the potential buyers get to see it, so that all they will picture is moving in day, not all the work they’d have to put into the home.
Most people will want all of the important work done before they move in. They don’t want to have to worry about tearing the place apart as soon as they get their stuff inside.
With each change that the prospective buyer calculates they’d have to make to your home; they’ll become just that much more concerned, as well as calculate how much less the property is worth compared with the asking price. When it comes to selling your home, you need to make it a priority to lighten these concerns.
TIP 18 – A TIMELESS FEEL
In the world of real estate, there is a huge difference between an old home, and a classic home. It’s comparable to the idea of used clothing versus vintage clothing; only on a much grander scale. If your home is about 60 years old, with 60-year old paint and wallpaper, 40-year-old appliances, and 60-year-old carpeting, then you have an “old” house, which is hard to sell.
On the other hand, if you’ve shown that you’ve maintained your home with an overall established look, but which has been kept fresh and up-to-date, this is a “classic” home, which is a very appealing style. You are showing the buyer in a classic home that all the major kinks of the new home have been worked out, the neighbourhood is settled, and it has been maintained well enough that “falling apart” won’t be a major issue.
TIP 19 – SHED SOME LIGHT ON THE SUBJECT
Two major things that your potential buyers will be looking for in your home include light and space. Sure, it’s alright to have one room that is a bit on the darker side; however, if the entire property is a little dark, that should be considered to be a problem.
When people will be viewing your home, open drapes and blinds, turn on many of the lights, and add lights to darker rooms. If the weather isn’t favourable on the day that people will be viewing your home, use flowers and other similar things that will suggest sunlight and freshness.
Your goal is to make your space look crisp, light, and vibrant. Your home should be a happy welcoming space inside which the prospective buyer wants to spend more time.
TIP 20 – ATTEND TO THE WALLS
It’s true; colour is very popular when it comes to walls. However, this can be a problem; you and your buyer may not have the same taste in what colours are best on walls. Paint is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to give your home a fresh new look, and if you’re going to put in the effort, you may as well do it right.
Before selling, you’ll want to stick to neutrals colours; white, beige, greys and cream may seem pretty boring to some, however they are the best for creating an easier sale. Remember also that white reflects the most light out of any colour, and therefore it will make the rooms appear the largest. It is all about how you dress the space and make sure that it is anything but boring.
Peeling wallpaper should be removed immediately and replaced with a fresh coat (or two) of paint. This is especially important in bathrooms. Here, you should either paint a neutral colour, or the lightest colour that will work with the existing tile.
This is the same for kids’ rooms. If they need a fresher look, then go with colours that are as neutral as possible. That way, while buyers look at the house, they’ll be looking at the home for itself, not for your own decorating abilities. Furthermore, this allows them to imagine the way their things will go into the space.
TIP 21 -AVOID MAKING A ‘STATEMENT’
If you have any kinds of “loud” decorating pieces or accessories that makes a statement or that is controversial, you should remove them. These items may be attractive or fun in your eyes, but there are many people who may find this a complete turnoff.
This is the same for books and magazines that you might have lying around. If you’re not sure, the best thing is not to display them, in case something might be offensive or simply unattractive to prospective buyers.
TIP 22 – MAXIMISE YOUR STORAGE
While no buyer will expect that your closets will be perfectly neat or empty, they are looking for a large amount of storage space for their own things. To help with this impression, the rule of thumb is to take everything out of your closet, and only put half of it back in. The rest of the stuff will need to find a new home; in the garbage, the clothing donation charity, or packed in your suitcases. The reason for doing this is that partially empty closets look much roomier than they may really be. And remember, space and storage sell houses.
The same can be done for your kitchen cabinets and other storage areas. An added bonus is that when you’re done sifting through your stuff to get half out of the closets, you’ll already have gotten rid of a lot of things that you’ll no longer have to move. Moreover, if you’ve packed up the extras, that’s work done that you would have had to do sooner or later anyway.
TIP 23 – FLOWER POWER
Fresh flowers in your house will give it a healthy, clean, and bright look, without spending a fortune. Alternatively, contact your local florist or property stylist who can source some amazing artificial flowers for you. This slightly higher one off investment will then make sure that you have fresh looking flowers for the duration of the sale campaign. This can be very important for investment properties that may be unattended for the sale period.
Get some advice on what flowers will match the style of your home. For example, hydrangeas will accent a period home perfectly but may not suit a modern minimalist home. If you have flowers in your yard that can be cut, it’s pleasant to have some in the house. This not only ties the inside and the outside, but it gives your home an authentic, happy and fresh feeling.
TIP 24 – OPEN WINDOWS
If it’s mild enough outside – that is, if it’s cool enough in warm weather, or warm enough in cool weather – you might think about opening up the windows.
This will bring the fresh air in, and will be wonderful for making the air breathable, and getting rid of any “home” smells that you may not even notice, but may be obvious to the prospective buyer. A too-cold house will take away from the welcoming feeling you’re trying to instil in the home, and a too-warm house will make the house feel smaller than it is, and will make the prospective buyers want to leave faster.
TIP 25 – CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN
When people look to buy a home, they’re being extremely picky and observant about every little thing. That being said, you don’t want to lose a sale just because you have a cobweb in a basement or laundry window.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to go over your home thoroughly to ensure that it is spic and span. Pay special attention to elements such as:
• Door and window tracks or runners
TIP 26 – LET YOUR HOLUSE STAND OUT
When people are looking for a property to buy, it’s very, very rare that they’ll only see one or two houses. Therefore, if you’re going to have a number of people view your home as they look at a dozen or so other homes, you need to make sure that yours is the one that stands out in their minds. Of course there are good ways to stand out, and there are bad ways. The bad ways must be avoided at all costs. The good ways, however, should be aimed for with great attention.
Think about it: if you were to see five houses today, and another five a week from now, all with very similar features, how much would you really remember about each individual home? The odds are, you’ll remember the one that had some special little detail; maybe it’s the one with the pink roses on the kitchen table.
Not only will this sort of little thing make your home more memorable, but it will also let your house rate higher among the others. It’s like the “hook” that marketers aim for in commercials and other advertising. It’s something different and positive that sets your home apart from other houses.
TIP 27 – THE KITCHEN
It is usually the kitchen and the bathrooms that are most carefully scrutinized when a house is being considered for purchase. Therefore, they should be your first priorities when you look at the interior of your home before your prospective buyers arrive.
However, most experts agree that it’s not always the most cost-effective decision to completely remodel your kitchen before selling. Sure, you may get part of it back, but it simply can’t be guaranteed that you’ll get a return on all of your investment. Instead, there are some great little things that you can do as far as minor improvements and general sprucing up, which will provide a much greater impact on the speed and success of the sale of your home.
• Repair or repaint splash backs
• Change door handles
• Fix hinges
• Repair and realign doors
• Replace bench tops
• Paint cupboard fronts
TIP 28 – THE BEDROOM
Aside from the kitchen and bathrooms, the bedrooms are the most closely observed areas of your home. Therefore, be certain that the bedrooms are especially presentable. The beds should all be made, and as wrinkle- free as a 5- star hotel. The entire space should be free of all clutter and overly-personal items, to allow the largest appearance, and to permit the prospective buyers to imagine themselves and their things in the space.
The closets of the bedrooms should be tidy and organised, with as little extra stuff in them as possible. Any extra furniture should be removed from the bedrooms to give them a larger appearance. Keep all surfaces clean and clear. Tuck extra little items away while potential buyers are viewing your home. Every little bit will count towards the overall clean and larger impression.
TIP 29 – THE LIVING ROOM & DINING ROOM
These rooms should be clear, with only enough furniture in them to make them feel welcoming. Any extra furniture should be taken away.
The surfaces should be free of photographs, knick-knacks, and other personal items, and should be unscrupulously dust-free, ready for the final styling.
TIP 30 – SET THE STAGE
Once you are at this point, it is time to set the stage!
Style your home with accessories and soft furnishings that bring on trend items into your home. This can be challenging for some vendors and is one step that is certainly worth engaging a professional home stager for.
Professional home stager will help you make sure that for all of your efforts you are going to reap maximum possible rewards on sale day.