So you’ve made the decision to sell your home! You’ve heard all the news about how the property market is booming and sellers are reaching way above their reserve and you want to be one of those lucky people. Yes, please!
After years of running Better Homes and Gardens as Editor-in-Chief, I’ve seen my fair share of redecorating tips and tricks, and I reckon the ones that I’ve shared below might just help you reach the dizzying heights of a super surprising sales result in ways beyond your expectations.
Gear up, take a big breath and ready yourself! Yes, really ready yourself, because you have a house to clear out. And when I say clear out, I mean it.
No matter how meaningful your sentimental trinkets, the pictures on your walls, the rugs on your floor, the kids’ artwork; no matter how valuable to the family, what lovely memories they evoke, how much you adore them, and even how much they exhibit your decorating skills, box them up for storage, move them out and create clean empty spaces. Be ruthless!
Shelves need to be empty with only a book or two within. Surfaces, like shelves and kitchen benches, should display a minimal number of items, and coffee tables, a very small well-grouped collection of your most stylish decorative items.
When you think you are done, look around and then take away one or two more items. Your potential buyer needs to be able to visualise their belongings in your place and know they can fit them – and more.
Oh, you are not finished yet! Now open your cupboards and drawers and begin to empty them. Work with the same rigour as you did for your external items and make them look big, spacious and able to accommodate what might be in your buyer’s mind, by leaving space within. Arrange only a few items inside each, neatly, with your stylish organised mind. In the kitchen, less is more. Make sure your old pots and pans go into temporary storage, send your old glasses to Vinnies, and make sure only your simplest crockery is on display. It’s a lot to think about but you must take care of the kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms and linen cupboards and drawers, under-bed baskets and any sideboards. Phew! That’s a big job, so just sit for a minute, imagine, and go back over this list and see the pleasure of it all done. Great effort, good on you!
Employ a cleaner to do a top-to-bottom clean after you’ve culled your things and furniture (put it in a short-term storage unit). It will be easier for you to keep the home clean once it’s been given a deep and drop-dead-fabulous clean.
Ensure rubbish bins are empty and spotless or remove them altogether – you want buyers to wish their current home looks as good as yours! Bathroom grout and tiles must gleam; ceilings clear of mould; ceiling fans and air conditioning filters cleaned; furniture dusted and polished; appliances out of sight; stove and oven spotless and a new mat at the front door sets the scene.
Don’t forget, if you have pets, clean up after them because you don’t want visitors stepping on land mines while they scope your backyard! If you do need to cover unpleasant odours, try a blissful room spray to evoke a sense of comfort and relaxation.
Sometimes it’s also worth pressure cleaning the outside of your home rather than painting it because the new owners are likely to repaint anyway if the colours are a bit dated. Discuss this option with your agent.
Stand back and love your sparkling home – potential buyers will too.
First impressions count, so you want to make sure your garden is looking top-notch. It’s plant, prune, mulch, sweep, mend, and clean time. It’s absolutely vital that if you want to maximise the ‘Wow!’ factor, you need to have your hedges trimmed and neat; garden beds tidied, mulched, well-watered and even planted with flowers. Take a quick visit to the nursery and purchase beautiful flowering plants and position where they can be easily seen. They will say a lovely “hello and welcome” to your buyers as they approach. Keep an eye on your new flowers during the selling period and give them love to ensure they offer the impression of a healthy, well-maintained garden.
Then get out your shears. Lift the “skirt” on your trees by trimming low branches as it opens the property and allows buyers to appreciate your home in the wider context of its surrounds. Trim and prune to remove old branches and to shape shrubs, bushes and hedges to maximise presentation and a look of care and space.
It goes without saying that you should absolutely weed and mulch to make your garden look fresh and new. And highlight features such as trees and stand-out shrubs with rounds of mulch beneath them. Begin care for your lawn a couple of weeks before open for inspections to ensure it is green, lush and vibrant. Mow as often as is needed and keep edges perfect!
Pressure clean paths and driveways and make sure waste and recycle bins are emptied, cleaned and stowed discreetly. If you have time, install a lattice screen to keep them out of site. It shows you care. Make sure the carport or garage is clean and free of rubbish. If you have a two-car garage, ensure it can accommodate two cars and isn’t being obscured with storage.
Outdoor living and outdoor entertaining are right up there with how we Aussies love to live. So this part of your home must say to your potential buyers “Come and sit awhile” and allow them to imagine themselves around the barbecue, drink in hand, as they move from inside to out. It is as important as every other part of your home.
If you need, spend on a new outdoor setting, and don’t forget how amazing places like Facebook Marketplace are for these items. Place a setting for two in the prettiest part of your garden. Repaint or stain your deck if need be and ensure railings are equally updated. Ensure too, any overhead structures such as a patio or roofing look equally new – and aren’t leaking!
Add a couple of beautiful outdoor plants around your setting – two sculptural varieties will make the statement you want them to. Always have lovely platters ready to be filled with yummy snacks (though you won’t actually add the snacks) and glasses for drinks. Napkins and cutlery add to the atmosphere.
If you have budget for updating areas of your home, the outdoors is certainly a place to spend it.
Check out the competition in your area so you know what you’re up against. After all, the end goal is to get the best price you can for your house and knowing how other owners in your area are styling their homes can give you an advantage. If you’ve got the budget for it and really want to make your home stand out on the market, employ a specialist to style your home. This means you’ll have to remove 90 per cent of your belongings so the latest lounges, dining room settings and bedroom suites can be moved in to set the mood and make your home look like a luxurious haven.
It may be worth creating a feature wall with vibrant colour contrast and impressive artwork. A splendid touch, too, is to have soothing music playing while buyers view on open day. Not only will it make buyers feel at home, but it will also calm them and invite them to want to stay – the prelude to wanting to be in your home forever!
Keep the lights on inside so your home looks bright and airy if the sun is not shining through. And add lit lamps in corners to add a welcoming atmosphere – they’re a winner.
If it’s winter, make sure the house is warm throughout. If it’s summer, have the air-conditioning and fans on, keeping everyone cool. Both will make buyers aware of the climate control measures with which the home is equipped to ensure home-owner comfort.
Always arrange fresh flowers in the living room and smaller arrangements in bedrooms and bathrooms.
The smell of fresh coffee and bread also helps create a homey atmosphere. It’s not essential but if it seals the deal – it’s a steal!
And it’s always worth remembering – and repeating – the three essentials that make every house feel like a home are: warmth, fresh flowers and lamplight.
Now go out, do good, and wait to hear the compliments from potential buyers when you return.
Q: What colour palette should I use to decorate my home?
A: Neutrals work best. Stick to whites, creams, greys and light blues.
Q: Can I hire furniture to style my home for open inspections?
A: You sure can! A simple Google search will find you furniture styling companies in your area.
Q: I don’t want to spend much, what are the essentials?
A: If you don’t want to spend much styling your home, stick to new throw cushions for the couch and beds, potted flowers in the garden, fresh flowers in your home on inspection day.