If you’re getting ready to put your home on the market, you will want to make a good first impression and show potential buyers the home in its best light. Here are some tips to help you along the way.
When it comes time to sell your home, there are many important things to keep in mind. You need to make sure the house is looking its best inside and out, and that you have the right professionals who can help you with the sale and the necessary paperwork. To shed some light on the topic, we spoke to Brisbane-based real estate agent Simon Pringle, of Collective Property Agents, who gave us a list of his top 10 things to keep in mind when preparing a home for sale. 

10 tips to prepare your home for sale 

·       Fix problem areas and give the home a refresh 
·       Sort and declutter your belongings 
·       Give the house a thorough clean 
·       Decorate the house to sell 
·       Find a great real estate agent 
·       Consider your home’s street appeal 
·       Have a second set of eyes take a look 
·       Put your valuables away 
·       Be prepared for the open home 
·       Engage a conveyancer or solicitor 

1. Fix problem areas and give the home a refresh 

Before taking your home to market, it is important to step back and take a look at the interior and exterior through the eyes of a buyer. This will allow you to take note of any spots that might need upgrades, or potential problems that might need fixing. 

“Do the walls need patching and painting?” Mr Pringle said. 

“Are the flyscreens damaged? 

“Perhaps the door handles are overdue for an upgrade, or does the lawn need an edge and a mow?” 

He added that dated and broken fixtures and fittings can draw negative attention to a home, and that refreshing certain features can make “a world of difference” to its look and feel. For example, swapping your old light fittings out for more contemporary ones is one easy way to make your home feel fresher. Carpets, paintwork, window furnishings and the garden are other possible areas to consider a sprucing up. 

“You’d be amazed by the transformation these elements can make and the cost is a minimal impact,” Mr Pringle said. 

When it comes to potential problem areas of a home, it might be worthwhile for a seller to obtain  a building and pest inspection report before going to market. Mr Pringle said that this can identify areas that need fixing, allowing an owner to address this before the house goes up for sale. Likewise, he said that a 100% clean building and pest report can be used as a selling feature for buyers. 

2. Sort and declutter your belongings 

If you are putting your house on the market with your own furnishings and belongings still inside, then it is important to declutter the space and get it looking as neat and tidy as possible before the first inspection. According to Mr Pringle, this is necessary in order to open the space up, and also to allow potential buyers to imagine themselves living there. 

Decluttering can mean getting rid of personal items like trophies, ribbons and knick-knacks, or even rearranging or removing extra furniture that may be crowding a room. 

“The idea is for a potential buyer to walk in and get a sense of what it’s like to live there,” he said. 

“A well-presented property will leave a positive impression.” 

3. Give the house a thorough clean 

Before your house goes to market, it is also important to give it a thorough clean, both inside and out. Whether you put on the rubber gloves and fill the mop bucket yourself or call the professionals to do it, a neat and tidy home is a must. 

“Buyers will notice if floors haven’t been cleaned properly, beds not made and if the house smells of pets,” Mr Pringle said. 

Messy floors and dirty surfaces can detract from the appeal of a house and make it less attractive to buyers, so it is important to make sure everything is clean and wiped down. Bathrooms can be a particular problem area when it comes to selling houses, thanks to the fact that they are used frequently, and the presence of water can lead to mess and damage. 

Mr Pringle told Canstar that buyers will pay particular attention to bathrooms, especially if they are not clean, and so it is important to make sure that these areas are clean and tidy prior to inspections. 

4. Decorate the house to sell 

Styling your property can be a way to help it stand out from the crowd, and if you plan on doing this, there are a number of possible approaches. Mr Pringle said that one option is to call in a professional stylist who can advise you on how to arrange your own belongings and furniture, and give you tips on what to keep and what to get rid of. 

Another approach is to remove your belongings and have the home professionally styled, either with physical furniture, or with a professional photography campaign where tasteful furnishings can be digitally inserted into photos of empty rooms. You can also decorate the property yourself, and Canstar has a list of expert tips for styling your home on a budget. 

Mr Pringle said sellers may like to consult with their real estate agent about the best course of action for styling and decorating a home for sale, making sure to stick within the desired budget. 

5. Find a great real estate agent 

When it comes to selling a home, there are various options you might consider for your marketing campaign. These can run the gamut from a comprehensive campaign with an agent, which might consist of a package of professionally-shot photos and videos, social media posts and letterbox drops, through to an ‘agent-assisted’ campaign, which might involve paying a third party to list your home for sale on various real estate websites. You could even run your own DIY marketing campaign, using self-made signs and advertisements, and taking out your own ads on social media. 

If you choose to engage a real estate agent to sell your home, it’s important to find a good one. When it comes to making your decision, Mr Pringle recommends doing your research to find an agent who is knowledgeable about your specific market and has great reviews from clients. He then recommends interviewing potential agents, and narrowing them down to a shortlist of two or more, considering the pros and cons of each. 

“Your agent of choice should be someone you feel comfortable and confident with to deliver what you need,” he said, and “someone you feel you can trust to market your home to the best outcome.” 

6. Consider your home’s street appeal 

While a clean and tidy interior is important, it is vital that your house looks its best from the street, in order to bring potential buyers in. Just as people will judge a book by its cover, potential buyers will judge a house by its front yard and facade, so if you’re selling your home, it’s important to maximise the street appeal. 

In order to achieve this, Mr Pringle suggests taking a look around your neighbourhood and seeing what other houses are doing that looks good. He said that adding a fresh coat of paint to your fence can help give it a lift,  along with adding some fresh plants and mulch to your yard (making sure you don’t opt for manure-based fertiliser, which could be a smelly turn-off!). 

7. Have a second set of eyes take a look 

It’s important to make sure your home is clean and tidy before it goes to market, and you may even add some styling touches of your own. If you’re handling this side of things yourself, you may want to consider some objective, outside feedback to make sure you’ve done a good job. Mr Pringle suggests having a friend of even your agent come by throughout the process, to offer feedback on what you’re doing. He said this can be a way to keep you on track in your cleaning and decorating efforts and make sure the property is clean, tidy and presentable for open homes. 

8. Put your valuables away 

If you’ll be having strangers come through your home, it’s wise to ensure that any valuable possessions are stored out of sight, either locked away or stored off-site. 

“You can’t trust everyone who comes into your house, even when you’re trying to sell it,” said Mr Pringle. 

Likewise, if you’re having a photographer come through to document the home for an online listing, you may ask them to pixelate or obscure certain elements of the shots, or simply to avoid certain things, so the photos don’t show off any valuables that might tempt unscrupulous visitors. 

Mr Pringle also said that prior to selling a home, you may like  to touch base with your home and contents insurance provider to conduct a simple audit, and make them aware that the property will be on the market. 

9. Be prepared for the open home 

Whether you’re opening your home to the public or conducting private inspections, it’s important to make yourself scarce on open day, and to make sure you’ve left the house before potential buyers arrive. Mr Pringle said that your agent will also need time to prepare the home for inspection, but that you can help give them a head start, by opening windows (where appropriate), and making sure lights are on and doors are open before you leave. 

If you have pets, it’s important to make sure that your cat’s litter tray is empty and your dog hasn’t left any ‘land mines’ around the yard. It’s also important to take your pet with you if possible, as this will make the inspection safer for prospective buyers and help your agent do their job. 

10. Engage a conveyancer or solicitor 

In preparation for selling your home and potentially purchasing the next one, it is important to engage a solicitor or conveyancer to assist with the legalities and formalities. Mr Pringle said to ask upfront about the costs you’ll be charged for a solicitor or conveyancer’s services. He added that there are several other things to keep in mind, specifically: 

The contract of sale should be reviewed by your solicitor or conveyancer with all the essential terms and conditions. Each state and territory has different requirements for real estate sale contracts, so it is important to take advice first. 

If you have recently undertaken any building works requiring approvals, then it is important to obtain a certificate of compliance from your relevant local council or authority. 

If you are concerned about the boundary alignments of your property, it is advisable to have a survey of the land and buildings carried out. 

If there is a current lease on the property, check the expiry date and termination requirements and advise your solicitor or conveyancer, as this also should be listed on the contract of sale. 

If there are any specific fittings or fixtures that will remain with the property after purchase, or any that you would specifically like to exclude and take with you, it is important to note this in the contract of sale. 

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