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How to Prepare a Property for sale

By Candace White

When selling your house, you need to step back and take a long, hard look at how it might present to other people.

This can be difficult. You may like that patterned wallpaper, have fond memories of marking the changing heights of the children on the architrave, and smile when you look at the the corner of the carpet chewed by the dog. These are things you can live with, but a prospective buyer sees neglect and something that will cost them time and money.

It’s best to remove negatives from your house, they can be an instant turn-off, and instead create a welcoming ambience which calls out to prospective buyers that the house is fresh, clean, and ready to move into.

There are three key areas to focus on when preparing your home for sale to help you get the best price:

1. Make simple repairs  

One of the biggest turn-offs for buyers is wear and tear such as chipped tiles, cracked windows, scuffed paintwork, stained carpets, and other obvious signs of damage. These unsightly areas instantly alert buyers there is work required, which can diminish their initial enthusiasm for your property and lower the price they are prepared to pay. Discuss with your agent which areas you should overhaul before holding open homes. You want to ensure you are increasing appeal while not overcapitalising.

2. Clean and declutter  

Study other houses currently on the market and you will see they have been decluttered, cleaned thoroughly, and may even have been styled to look modern and pristine. Removing lots of clutter makes the prospective buyer able to see the room properly while more importantly, making the room appear larger. Cleaning the house, even hidden areas such as under the sink, makes the house look well-cared for. This gives the buyer a subliminal impression that the house has been well-maintained and there should be no hidden problems.

3. Style your home

Styling is another instant facelift that can give your property a fresh look which appeals to buyers. You can hire a stylist to take care of this for you, or hire furniture and accessories and do it yourself.

Property staging can modernise a tired home.

How to fix up a home before putting it on the market

If you’re handy and have good DIY skills, you can undertake many of the small jobs around the house yourself, bringing it to peak condition and ready for sale. If not, you can hire a local handyman to help you.

Walk through the house with a notepad and create a list of all of the areas which need improvement.

Among the areas you should examine are:

  • Front fence Is it in good condition? Does it need vines pulled away, a paint job, repairs?
  • Front lawn Is it lush and tidy?
  • Pathway Are there cracks that need to be fixed? Would paving paint give it a nice facelift?
  • Front door Is a new door required, or does it need to be painted?
  • Windows Are they clean and do the surrounds need filling or painting?
  • Façade Does it need to be pressure-washed or repainted?
  • Interior walls Are they all looking pristine or freshly painted in neutral tones?
  • Architraves Are they chipped, dented, or need new paintwork?
  • Flooring Are the carpets clean and in good condition? Are there floorboards underneath which can be polished?
  • Kitchen Are the cabinets in good condition? Would painting them improve and modernise the space? Would replacing the benchtop make it look contemporary? Does the splashback need to be replaced?
  • Bathrooms Are the tiles in good shape? Does the grouting need to be cleaned or replaced? If the tiles are dated, would they be better painted with tile paint?
  • Laundry Is there ample storage and useful counter space?
  • Back yard Are the plants trimmed and garden beds weeded? Would planting some flowers and pots of colour add some wow factor?
  • Pool: Is it clean, properly fenced and surrounding areas furnished with an inviting setting?

These are some of the areas to consider revamping to create a positive impression of a well looked after house. Talk to your agent about any areas needing improvement, but make sure you don’t overcapitalise.

Should you renovate before you sell?

Every seller wants to achieve the maximum sale price for their property, and a quick renovation could make the difference.

Looking at the houses for sale in your area, is there something they all have that yours doesn’t have? Are you able to add that element to your property without vastly altering the existing footprint of the house?

For example, if all the properties in the area have solar panels or an ensuite, you may consider updating your home to compete with the other houses on the market.

Work out who your ideal buyer is before you spend any money. Analyse the demographics of your area and then look at renovating to target them.

If you’re targeting families, make sure your backyard is fenced and secure. If you think your place might suit a single parent, you could spend some money on security screens or alarm systems. Retirees might appreciate an easy care lawn or a backyard shed.

Start your research by talking to your local real estate agent. In many cases, you can fix up a few things rather than doing a full-scale renovation.

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