Tips and Advice

4 important things you need to do before you sell your home

Whether you’re selling the family home or renovating for resale, our experts have got you covered

Selling a home is a tricky business, especially in today’s unpredictable market. But there are a few straightforward things you can do to prepare for the moment when your home hits the market. When I meet with prospective sellers, I usually recommend a four-step plan: painting, gardening, cleaning and de-cluttering. In my opinion, these are the most cost-effective ways to maximise the sale price of any home.

More extensive renovations such as upgrading kitchens and bathrooms take time and energy, and you will be doing well to simply get your money back on settlement day. If you have the skills to complete this work yourself or have family/friends who can do it on the cheap, lucky you! Just make sure you stick to a simple plan to keep a limit on costs.

1. Painting 

You should paint bathroom ceilings if they need it, and paint kitchen cupboards if the colours are dated. Consider changing the handles as well – this is a very inexpensive way to modernise your kitchen and most cupboard handles are a standard size so they are easy to change (all you need is a screwdriver).

Consider painting hallways and rooms if the existing colours are very dark. Use light, neutral colours at all times. Paint your front doorway (and front door if required) to improve a buyer’s first impression. Go for a bold colour that fits the exterior colour scheme of your property – a dark red front door looks great next to grey weatherboards. Re-staining decks can also be a fairly simple job with not too much prep work involved and can also make a big difference to the overall appeal of your home.

Be aware that re-painting entire exteriors can be expensive, especially when scaffolding is involved so think carefully before going ahead with a total re-paint. Often small touch-ups or just painting window sills will be sufficient.

Paint your front doorway (and front door if required) to improve a buyer’s first impression.

Go for a bold colour that fits the exterior colour scheme of your property

2. Gardening

You want your garden to appear as low-maintenance as possible to potential buyers. If you present a section that is well maintained, it will give buyers confidence that you have taken care of your property. Make sure no trees or hedges are touching the house itself, and ensure paths are clear from overhanging branches. But above all – trim anything that is blocking the sun! Be ruthless.

3. Cleaning

When you are just about to sell, you need to clean as if the local health and safety inspector is coming for a visit. Buyers will poke around and inspect every nook and cranny so your usual Sunday afternoon whip-around really will not do. Hire some help if you need to and clean all those surfaces you don’t normally bother with – like the top of the rangehood, inside your pantry, behind toilets, in high corners were the cobwebs live and inside wardrobes. Wash curtains if required, or have them dry-cleaned – buyers love looking behind curtains to see if they can find spots of mould (and owners always forget to look there).

Sometimes all that’s required to make a massive difference to the presentation of your property is a good, thorough exterior house wash. When this is done professionally it can cost a bit more than you might think, but it’s worth every penny. Be sure to also wash gutters, paths and driveways.

Tip: Buy fresh flowers to display in your house during open homes, or arrange some attractive greenery in a vase for a longer lasting arrangement.

4. De-cluttering

Firstly, take out everything you don’t need for daily life. Now, take out some more. When you visit a show-home, the first thing you’ll notice is that they have a ridiculously small amount of furniture – that’s no accident. The more you take out of a room, the bigger it will feel to a prospective buyer.

Leave prints and paintings on the wall (and a few personal photos to make it feel homely), but clear any surfaces like the tops of bookcases, the front of your fridge, the entire kitchen bench and any tables or desks. Hire a storage unit if you need to, and feel free to use your garage for storage. As long as buyers can walk into your garage and see how big it is, it’s okay to fill it with boxes and furniture.

Then borrow nice furniture from friends and family if you can, invest in new curtains if needed, and buy a new shower curtain. New duvet covers are essential – keep it simple and neutral.

Tip: If your property is empty, home staging can be a worthwhile investment. Nicely presented furniture makes it easier for buyers to picture themselves living in your home, meaning they are more likely to develop an emotional connection to it, which can only be a good thing on auction day. If staging gets you just one extra offer, that added competition should help you recoup your investment and a whole lot more.

Visit andrewduncan.co.nz for more real estate advice.


Words by: Andrew Duncan, Real estate blogger and licensed agent. Photography by: Bauer Syndication.

This article was first published in Your Home and Garden. Follow YHG on Instagram, Facebook and sign up to the fortnightly email for inspiration between the issues.

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