Sellers guide to preparing for home inspections

Sellers guide to preparing for home inspections

By Shana Mawhinney on Mar 27 2018


Competition is high in the real estate market ... so how do you best prepare your home for sale, ensure it stands out from the crowd and attracts more buyers?  

According to 96% of our top agents the answer is spending time preparing your property for home inspections.  By doing this well, 87% of agents believe it can boost the final sales price by up to 10%...and that is a lot of money!

Whilst you can employ an expert to help you, not everyone has the budget, so here are some practical tips to help you make the most of four key areas that buyers closely scrutinize at open for inspections.  For room by room tips download our Styling to Sell eBook.

Create an entrance

Your entrance is the first thing people see so you need to ensure you make a great first impression from the street so would be buyers are excited about coming in to take a closer look.

Here are some easy ideas to transform the front of your home - be warned though you’ll need to get your hands dirty.
  • Add a fence - If you don’t already have one - add a fence around your property. This allows you to separate your home from the street and will have the added advantage of making your front yard seem bigger.
  • A good front gate - Make sure your front gate is clean and in good condition - it’s the first thing people come in contact with.
  • Make sure you can easily see your home's number and if possible add lights in case buyers do a drive by at night time.
  • Neat clean and cared for - Clean out your gutters and make sure your roof and windows are clean and free of spider webs.
  • Power wash your path and make sure it is swept before open home inspections. Spend some time weeding and trimming the garden beds. Maybe add some flowering plants to bring in a bit of colour. Make sure your lawn is mowed and any leaves are raked up.
  • Paint your garage door - visually this often takes up a lot of space so making it look great can make a big difference to your street appeal.
  • Having a neat and well cared for front garden -  this gets potential buyers excited about finding out more - that’s the feeling you are trying to create.
  • Keep garbage out of sight - Make sure your garbage bins are out of sight and clear out your letter box each day in case people are driving past - you want buyers to feel this is a loved and cared for home.
  • Add a path- If you don’t have an established path, consider laying one to help guide your buyers to your front door. Plain white pavers look great against a green lawn but there are many great options to choose from depending on what your budget and taste is like. They will make a big difference to your entrance.
  • Light me up - Ensure your outside bulbs are bright enough and working well, in case buyers do a drive by at night time. Make sure that the street or unit number is clearly visible and that the doorbell works.
  • Don’t have a front yard?- Make an impact by adding window planters, some clean shutters, good lighting and clearly visible house numbers.

Living room

The aim here is to make buyers feel good about being in your home. You want them to envisage themselves living in in your space.
  • Create a feeling of space - Today's buyers like large open plan living. If your home doesn't have a large living space, then you will need to make the most of the space you do have. Colour can help, receding colours like blues and greens can make a room appear bigger. How you finish a small room is also important. In a small room, especially one with low ceilings, keep furnishings below waist height and limit the number of pieces in the room. Clutter will make your small room look even smaller!
  • Careful positioning of the furniture - Show buyers how easy it is to live in your living space. These rooms are places for people to communicate and relax so make sure you arrange your room to demonstrate this. Consider traffic flow, conversation areas, access from seating to coffee or side tables and task lighting for work or reading areas.
  • Fix the flooring - Floors are an expensive part of any room to replace; buyers know this, so they will want to see quality flooring. It may not be economical to replace worn or inappropriate flooring before you sell, so make the most of what you have. Have your carpets professionally cleaned. Marked or damaged timber floors should be re-sanded and polished.
  • Highlight a feature in the room - One of the golden rules of interior design is that rooms need a focus. It could be a fireplace, or the view from your window of French doors. If you living space doesn't have a natural feature why not consider a feature wall? Even if buyers don't agree with your style, most will not have a problem with changing one wall.

Styling your Kitchen

The kitchen is the one room that can make or break a sale. It’s usually the most expensive room in any house, so prospective buyers don’t want to see a kitchen that needs a total upgrade.

This doesn’t mean a total re-fit, but there are some small things you can do to make your kitchen more appealing.
  • Clear the clutter - If you have more on your kitchen benches than in the cupboards you need to clear it away.
  • Add appliances - Buyers know just how expensive a new oven or dishwasher can be, so they may shy away from your house if they think they will need to spend up big on replacements for these appliances.  If your appliances are out of date, consider replacing them. It may be a worthwhile investment.
  • Fresh coat of paint - A fresh coat of paint can work wonders in a drab kitchen, especially if cooking splatters have become a feature! Don’t forget your worn tiles, a little primer and paint can make a huge difference.
  • Do up your doors - Swapping cabinet doors can give your kitchen a whole new look. If entirely new doors are outside your budget you can make a huge difference by simply replacing the handles of your cupboards and drawers.
  • Lift the lighting - The lighting in a kitchen is something buyers will take careful note of. Installing fluorescent or spot lights under the top cupboard can provide light for benchtop work areas or consider adding a pendant light above your benchtop for some visual interest.
  • Benchtops - Many people think that replacing a scratched and stained benchtop is just too costly, but not all benchtop materials are that expensive. Consider using laminate or the slightly more expensive options like corian. This small investment could save your sale!
  • Fix the floor - If your kitchen floor is a little worse for wear, lift the lino and if you have them, polish the floorboards underneath - if they are in good enough condition - otherwise lay vinyl flooring, which is easy to clean.  Alternatively, you may like to use tiles for a contemporary cool feeling.
  • Add some personality - Add vases of cut flowers, a bowl of fresh fruit or lemons on the bench. These personal touches will add something special to the room.

The Bathroom

Buyers today like beautiful bathrooms - they want a room they can relax and pamper themselves in, no matter what size or condition your bathroom is in. It's important to spend some time and money making the most out of what you have.
  • Clean your tiles and grouting, make sure your windows, mirrors and shower screens are spotless and free of streaks.  Replace your soap bars with liquid soap, there will be less mess to take care of.
  • Clear the smell -  Nothing will put a buyer off faster than a bad smell, so make sure you air your bathrooms well, open the windows, use the extractor fan and add some potpourri or air freshener if needed...but don’t go over the top as buyers might think you are trying to hide something.
  • Fix the fittings - Cracked basin, toilets or tubs give the impression the room is unhygienic, so consider replacing these. It’s not that expensive provided you don’t change the plumbing.
  • Replace your vanity or mirror and add new lighting fixtures to make a really good impression on your buyers.
  • Add some luxury - Today luxury spa bathrooms are very popular, but we don’t all have this look. You can however add a little luxury to any bathroom.  Fresh plump towels, some handmade soaps, plant or fresh flowers and some boutique bath products set out in your bathroom will give that feeling of luxury.
  • Space savers - If you have a small bathroom don’t clutter the limited wall space with towel rails, put them on the back of the door. If you are renovating a small bathroom, consider wall mounted sinks and toilets. Use big mirrors to make the room appear twice the size, not only will they enhance the feeling of spaciousness, they are also very practical.
  • Replace old fixtures - consider replacing a cabinet sink with a pedestal sink - it will make the room feel much bigger.
  • Clear the clutter - the bathroom will also seem less cluttered if you keep the colour scheme simple and light as well as ensuring you have good storage to hide all those bits and pieces.
  • A new coat - Stained or chipped bathtubs and basins can be easily fixed by enameling companies that can give your fitting a whole new look. They can even enamel old tiles, so if your bathroom’s colour scheme is straight out of the 1970’s this simple inexpensive process could save your sale. Add to this a fresh coat of paint on the walls and you have a whole new bathroom.

For more advice on how to style each room of your home download our Styling to Sell eBook.