Preparing your home for sale

For most of us, revealing to other people who we really are is a challenge we navigate all through life. With differing levels of effectiveness, we are forever experimenting with clever ways to present ourselves in the light we want people to see us. Preparing your home for sale is not a dissimilar process in that we want to highlight the best features and disguise the worst. Irrespective of a house’s size or monetary value, the perfectly displayed dwelling promises the prospective buyer a snapshot of what the future could hold.

The drive by

First impressions count. A buyer will often drive past the house to get a feel for the area. Shaggy front lawns, scraggy weeds, unswept driveways or a cluttered verandah give the message that it can only get worse once they open the front door.

If you don’t already have one, buy, borrow or hire a high-pressure cleaner to make the exterior of the house look spick and span. Creepy cobwebs hanging under the eaves, grotty flywire screens and windows, and mouldy paths and paving all look very grim. Blast them away – it’s very therapeutic.

Consider updates

Deciding whether to undertake any kind of renovations is a fraught topic, so seek advice from a real estate agent that you trust and who genuinely understands your suburb. Putting in a new kitchen in an otherwise outdated house may just highlight the tiredness of the surrounding rooms. And it’s impossible to predict the buyer’s personal taste.

Usually you’re better off to redirect your focus into solid home maintenance. While you might be used to the leaking tap, the cupboard door that doesn’t quite close, the downlight that hasn’t worked in years or the flaking paint around the window frames, these things are sure signs of neglect to the prospective buyer. Generally inexpensive and quick to fix, bite the bullet and get these things done.

Get the look

Always remember that you’re inviting the prospective buyer into your house, not your life. Even if your reality is chaos, you need to pretend for a few weeks that life inside your home is stress free. Decluttering is the golden rule.

Step 1: start at the front door and walk through your home as if for the first time. Daily life becomes so habitual that quite often we don’t use our own homes to their full potential. Can you create any new spaces simply by moving the furniture around or even out? A quiet place to read, an area where the kids can hang out with their mates (away from you) and a chilled nook where you can have a glass of wine with friends are all scenarios that you want to suggest to the buyer.

It’s a bit like theatre – you want to create a different scene in each living space. For the buyer, it’s much easier to assume an already imagined life rather than trying to build the picture from scratch. A professional stylist can be invaluable at this point; and don’t be alarmed if they suggest hiring furniture and artwork – it’s usually money well spent.

Step 2: depersonalise and get rid of anything that isn’t completely relevant to the space. Minimise items such as family photos, utensils, appliances and knick-knacks. Keep things anonymous without being sterile.

Step 3: buyers will inevitably open cupboard doors, generally to check storage space rather than to riffle through your treasured shoe collection. Fold everything neatly and remove anything valuable.

It’s the simple things

Now you just need to maintain the illusion for the duration of the campaign, and keep everything neat and clean. You can also make a mini checklist to ensure that everything is good to go before each open for inspection. While fresh flowers are a nice touch, don’t turn your home into a funeral parlour – one or two carefully placed vases or a bowl of fresh fruit are usually enough.

Finally, make sure you know your target market. Who would your house appeal to? Empty nesters? Investors? First homebuyers? Some thoughtful planning, a little elbow grease and a few carefully spent dollars will promise the prospective buyer an enviable home and lifestyle, help to move your house quickly and maximise your sale price.


Article supplied by Handled with Care, which specialises in the co-ordination of retirement and aged-care relocations as well as clearing deceased estates. Visit

Photo: Olha Afanasieva/Dreamstime