Sell your home faster and get a better price with these 10 tips

The real estate market is increasingly competitive; buyers are savvy and often not prepared to compromise. In many cases, they’re looking to buy not just a home, but a lifestyle.

An open house is your chance to showcase your home at its best, sell the “dream” to potential buyers, and secure a top-dollar sale. “At an open home, presentation is key,” says Di Sims, real estate agent with It Takes Two REMAX in Annerley, Queensland. “It can change the price by tens of thousands of dollars.”

Depending on the current state of your house, you may need to begin preparations a couple of weeks before you fling the doors open to the world. Industry insiders say this is a time to think of your house as a commodity rather than a home: here are their tips on how to put together a look guaranteed to tug at buyers’ heart-strings (and purse strings).

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Spruce up the garden
When you’re selling your house, first impressions are everything: “When people look at a photo of a house or drive by, if they find the outside is not appealing they often don’t even bother to come inside,” says Amanda Beibei Li, a property stylist with Uplift Interiors.

The front yard is your first chance to make a good impression, and it’s worth investing some time to get it looking its best, so you don’t lose a single opportunity. “From the moment they drive up, if the lawns and the gardens are looking beautiful, it entices people in,” says Sims.

1. Mow the lawn, rake dead leaves, sweep pathways, weed garden beds.
2. Ensure the front fence and gate are clean, and that the gate swings opens easily.
3. Remove garden waste, children’s toys and gardening equipment.
4. Carefully position and arrange any outdoor dining furniture.
5. Plant feature pots with colourful flowers.

Freshen up the facade
Your newly swept garden path must now lead to an equally well-kept home. Stand outside the front door and look at it with fresh eyes: can you see cobwebs, dirty surfaces, peeling paint, a grubby doormat? A neglected facade will make people feel like the home hasn’t been well-loved or maintained.

Sims says this can cause people to assume that the home requires more work and repairs; it can make them look for other faults as they move inside. So it’s important to freshen this whole area up.

1. Make sure the front door and walls are clean and (if needed) freshly painted.
2. Sweep the porch and buy a fresh new doormat.
3. Accessorise porch furniture with on-trend cushions.
4. Dust down the cobwebs.
5. Clean windows.
6. Ensure the globes in any porch lights are working.

“When people like what they see as they walk into the home, it puts them in a positive frame of mind,” Sims says.


Make an entrance
Right, so you’ve got them through the door – that’s a good start. Now, how welcoming is your entrance? A clear space, free of obstructions, where your agent can greet visitors is a must. It’s also where you can “set the scene” for the rest of the house.

“At Belle Property we very much promote having a property professionally styled,” says Fiona Biondi, director of client services at Belle Property Australasia. “The stylist aims to create some sort of consistency and a more neutral feel so that people can envisage putting their own stamp on the place.” In the entry, she says, stylists will generally clear away personal items and accessorise the space with “something that’s quite current or on-trend”.

1. Clear away coats, shoes, bags, umbrellas and all the other clutter that can pile up near the front door.
2. Take away grubby mats or carpets.
3. Remove any furniture that’s too large for the space.
4. Hang a piece of feature art.
5. Style with one or two on-trend knick-knacks and fresh flowers.


Declutter the entire home
All three experts interviewed for this story were unanimous regarding the importance of decluttering. “As much as it’s your home, you’ve got to take all the personal stuff out to make it look more appealing and spacious,” Sims says.

Think minimal: clear crowded shelving units, keeping only a few key pieces on display. Magazines, papers, toys, phone-charging cables – move them along. You’ll be amazed at how clearing all the horizontal surfaces can transform the look of a room.

Tip: The Marie Kondo method sounds brutal, but could be a great way to declutter when preparing to sell. The idea is to keep only items that “spark joy”. This means you’ll throw away an awful lot of stuff, and (theoretically) you’ll be left with only your most beautiful, open-home-worthy pieces. Or, you could just shift all non-essential bits and pieces into storage while your home is on the market.

Remove personal items and family photos
There are a few reasons for doing this. When styling your home for inspection day, your primary objective should be to make your interiors look beautiful, but impersonal; this is so people can imagine themselves living in the space.

“If you have all these personal photos around the house, it’s harder for potential buyers to picture themselves living there,” says Beibei Li. “From a practical standpoint, there are also privacy concerns; you don’t want people to find out too much about you. The less a buyer knows about you, the easier it is for the real estate agent to negotiate.”

The types of items to remove include:

1. Family photos,
2. Kid’s artworks and handmade ornaments,
3. Grandma’s crocheted throw,
4. Certificates, cards, invitations and postcards that may be on display.

Add value by adding function
Take a look at the way you have each room of the home set up. Can you add value by changing how the rooms are used? Beibei Li says that people often aren’t adept at visualising how different spaces could be used, so it’s good to show them: “You need to create a function for each space. If possible, show people more living areas.” This can be as simple as creating a reading nook by a window with an armchair and small side table.

In a larger home, you can demonstrate functionality by styling the smallest bedroom as something else: a home office, dressing-room, or playroom, for example. Show people the potential your home offers. “The way each room is furnished should reflect the best use of the space,” Biondi says. “Styling a cramped fourth bedroom as a study sometimes makes more sense.”


Style the kitchen
Any real estate agent will tell you, kitchens sell houses. So in the lead-up to your open house, lavish yours with attention. The main things buyers are going to be looking for in a kitchen are storage space and bench space. “You can create that illusion of space by decluttering and not having an excess of anything on benchtops or taking up space,” Biondi says.

Remove everything from the benchtop: dishcloths and detergent, salt and pepper, utensils and large appliances. Soften the look with a beautiful oversized bowl or platter, or some cut flowers.

Visually maximise the storage by removing excess items from the cupboards, leaving “just enough” behind.

1. When cleaning, pay particular attention to the cooktop, oven, sink and tap.
2. Hide your daggy old tea towels.
3. Clean the insides of cupboards and drawers.
4. Empty the bin.
5. Empty the dishwasher so people can look inside.
6. Take photos and notes off the front of the fridge.

Style the bedrooms
The decluttering mantra continues into the bedroom. As you’ve done in the rest of the home, clear all surfaces and remove personal (and valuable) items. Make the bed the focal point of the room, dressed up in its “Sunday best” bedlinen, with pretty cushions and throws to make it look even more inviting. Have matching lamps on the bedside tables, and put them on to create a soft glow in the room.

Children’s bedrooms are a different animal, Biondi says. “If a room has a single bed, and looks cramped with lots of bookcases and shelves packed with toys, it’s often better to pack the whole room away, then put in a double- or queen-size bed and a pair of bedside tables. Presenting it as a double bedroom rather than a small single bedroom creates the maximum illusion of space.”


Style the bathroom
Conceal all personal items such as toothbrushes and hairbrushes as well as bottles of shampoo, shaving cream and moisturiser. Clear the surfaces. If your grout’s mouldy, get out the bleach. Make sure every surface is sparkling. Even an old, dated bathroom will appear more welcoming after a good scrubbing.

Then, dress it up with some accessories: “Invest in some new, really nice towels, have them all matching, and hang them neatly. Accessorise the room with quality accessories such as nice soap dispensers or candles,” says Biondi. Fresh flowers or plants are beautiful finishing touches.

And finally
Put away any pet food bowls and beds, give the floors a quick once-over, get the washing off the clothesline, and clear off. Now it’s time for the real estate agent to take over and find your house a new owner.

As Seen on Domain.Com.Au

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