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11 tips to prepare your open house when selling

09 August 2018

Thinking of selling your home in the next few months? If so, you’re probably wanting the best price you can get and to sell in a timeframe that doesn't involve having inspections and open homes for months on end.

There are always small things you would like to fix or update in your home and when it comes time to selling your home, the time is now.

Making small changes can make a big difference in the selling price when a buyer feels they’re buying a beautiful home, rather than a ‘fixer upper’. Ultimately, your home is competing against other similar properties in the area, and like any product, buyers are looking to find the house which offers best value for their budget.

Remember, achieving a good price in a reasonable time is all about saleability – you don’t want to invest in making changes if you aren’t going to get a return on that investment come auction day.

The price you ask must reflect market conditions, and your property must be presented as a saleable item.

So, what to do to make the property look great without spending money unnecessarily?

Here are 11 tips to help you get started.

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1. De-clutter your house

Perhaps surprisingly, many owners are on board with decluttering. This can be particularly helpful come moving day when you have less to pack and organise.

Before potential buyers come to inspect your home, get some packing boxes and store as many of the kids’ toys, tools, kitchen items and clothes that you can live without for a couple of months. Depending on how much you can pack away, store the boxes neatly in your garage or hire a small storage facility. Don’t leave them out for everyone to see.

Rather than packing everything, look at any online marketplaces where you could make a few extra dollars selling some of your unwanted household items and furniture.

Tips for moving house: the ultimate guide

2. De-personalise your home

This can be hard for some folks, but it’s important that buyers don’t see your home, and that they see a house that they can make their home. Pack away family photos, holiday souvenirs or sports memorabilia, jewellery, watches, valuable electronic goods and things like children’s names on rooms or doors. You should present a blank canvas for the buyer to picture their own lives in.

Take paintings, posters and photos off the walls, as more wall space also makes the rooms look bigger. Try to avoid a tantrum by offering a bribe to the kids and remove finger paintings off the fridge.

3. Lighten up the rooms

Dark furniture, strong coloured walls and dark carpets can often make a space seem smaller. Try to remove or replace these items with something lighter and brighter where practicable and affordable. For example, the addition of a light rug on a dark floor can be a simple, but cost-effective change.

4. Check your light bulbs

Ensure all light bulbs are working, and if possible replace them with brighter LED globes. Not only do LED globes last longer and are more energy efficient, savvy buyers will notice features like this. By simply having the lights on during an inspection lets people know the electricity/wiring is working.

Adding lamps is another great way to brighten up your home and may well be worth the investment as well-lit homes are more attractive to buyers. Plus,

5. Fix basic maintenance issues

Often homeowners neglect small or tricky maintenance jobs, but these can become deal-breakers when the building and pest inspections are done. If you have any issues such as loose door handles, broken door or window locks, faulty exterior gates or blocked drains, make sure to get these issues fixed.

You may find that issues such as these are quite easy to solve and inexpensive.

6. Replace worn floors

Depending on the level of severity or cost that will result from replacing them, replace stained or damaged carpets and broken or loose floor boards. Fixing the floors will stop the property looking tired and dated. If you have decided to replace your floors, your choice in colour or style needs to appeal to a wide audience of potential buyers, don’t just choose your favourite colour. Research current fashions or opt for a neutral colour palette.

If you decide to sell with worn floor coverings or chipped or cracked tiles, you might find it puts off potential buyers and bidders. In saying that, you may not recoup all your costs come auction day.

7. Clean your bathrooms

The whole house should be tidy and clean if you’re preparing for an OFI (open for inspection), but bathrooms are a hotspot. It can be worth getting cleaners and handymen in for an even better result. Fix showers that are dirty or missing grout or silicon.

Remember to fix towel rails, tap fittings and lights as well. The issues that may need fixing, will likely be the ones that you don’t notice but a potential buyer will – so make sure to be thorough.

If you have damaged vanity tops or doors, look at getting these replaced if it’s cost-effective. You don’t have to re-do the entire bathroom, but some simple refurbishment might be needed.

Take into account structural issues. Note that any building inspections booked in by potential buyers will detect any moisture behind showers, so if you suspect this is a problem, get it looked at.

8. Fix the kitchen

Many buyers will see your kitchen as the heart of the home and it’s an important selling feature.

If your appliances such as the dishwasher, stove and oven are part of the sale of the property, ensure all appliances are in working order. Whitegoods such as toaster, kettle and fridge should all work as well – some buyers will turn your toaster on to make sure the outlets are working.

Ensure the lighting in your kitchen is brighter than anywhere else in your house as you want the kitchen to represent a ‘haven’ of sorts.

Clean out a messy pantry or food cupboard and restack it neatly with less items as a clean look can help make your storage space look bigger.

There is one thing every home cook and aspiring chef want – space. Clear off any non-essential items from the benches and cupboards to make the kitchen look as big as possible, though adding a bowl of fruit or flowers can add a nice touch.

9. Address cosmetic problems

At an OFI, you can often spot the difference between a serious buyer and a nosey neighbour. Serious buyers will walk through you home with an eagle-eye, looking for any issues big or small. For this reason, fix any cosmetic issues and take away the opportunity for buyers to be discouraged.

Fix cracks in cornices, patch holes in walls and have any missing grouting replaced. Because you live in your home, you may have become accustomed to any imperfections, it may be helpful to have your real estate agent or even a friend walk through your home and try to spot anything.

If there aren’t any glaring problems but you still have some cash to splash and a strong back, a new paint job in a light neutral colour can work wonders on auction day.

10. Tidy your home’s exterior

First impressions matter, so don’t settle for mediocrity. Not only will your homes exterior be the first thing people see when inspecting, but if you are advertising your home for sale, you will want good photos of your home.

Repair cracked roof tiles, clean off mildew, replace or paint over rust and wall cracks that will be found in a building inspection.

Clear the area around the house where the weep holes are located to reduce the chance of attracting termites and having this noted in the pest inspection. If you haven’t had a termite check recently, get one before you list the property.

11. Tend to your garden

Having a bad, dilapidated front yard can be terrible when selling your home. Having a good, tidy yard can be better, but having a great, immaculate front yard can be great.

Get the front and back gardens in order with clean and sturdy fencing, pruned plants and mowed lawns. Shifting your property from looking like a shabby house, to a beautiful home with some modest landscaping can dramatically boost the value if the imagery tells the right story.

One top tip, is to buy a pressure washer from your local hardware store. There are many that are inexpensive and work wonders on oil stains and moss on your driveway.

On inspection day, park your car around the corner so potential buyers get a good look at the driveway.

Fixing up your home for sale doesn’t need to cost a fortune if you do it right, but getting those little things fixed can not only speed up the sales process and help find a buyer, but can add value to your home as well.

As always, don’t try to fix any electrical or plumbing work on your own. Always hire a professional tradesperson who can do a good quality job.

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The information is intended to be of general nature only. Subject to any rights you may have under any law, we do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss or damage, including loss of business or profits or any other indirect loss, incurred as a result of reliance upon the information. Please make your own enquiries.