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The Seven Best Things to Prepare Your House for Sale

The Seven Best Things to Prepare Your House for Sale

For the movie aficionados out there you may have picked up the subtle reference to “The Castle” in the heading. Although the title is tongue in cheek, it is interesting that two such similar words can inspire very different emotions.

What a purchaser sees

When viewing property as a buyer, they see a house. In its most basic form, it is shelter which needs to meet a pre-prepared set of criteria. Buyers, especially those in the first home market, adopt a risk averse mindset to house hunting. In a flat market, they can easily dismiss properties by focusing on the 5% of things which are negatives. These things can be as minor as the colour of a feature wall or a few rotten weatherboards. Things which could be easily remedied pre-market, given the right advice.

What a vendor sees

Once buyers make the step and purchase a house, they quickly set about turning that house into a home. They dismiss the things they may not have liked about the house initially and focus on the 95% of the reasons that it’s a great place to live, entertain and even raise a family.  It’s also very common for new owners to discover aspects of the home that they like which hadn’t been evident during the initial viewings.  This could be a sunny reading nook, a warm and dry living environment or a great community feel.


Sell a home, not a house

As you can see, buyers and vendors are in two very different mindsets when it comes to the sale and purchase of property, with one party looking out and the other looking in. As an owner thinking about taking your property to the market, it’s important that you position the property in a way that it ticks the shelter box but more importantly it sells the potential lifestyle and all the reasons you have enjoyed living there.

Owners can become a little apathetic when it comes to presenting their home for sale as it’s easy to slip into the mindset that if you are happy with it, others will be also. But this is not the case, and complacency when it comes to preparing your home for sale can cost you both in days on the market and more importantly your end sale price. So, how can you ensure you make your home as appealing as possible to a wide market segment?


1. Lipstick on a pig

Painter and decorators love this expression and in the days before building reports this was the best way to window dress a less than desirable property for sale. These days, we recommend any vendor serious about confidently representing their property to the market to order an inspection in advance. This way you can set about resolving minor issues or problem solve bigger ones.

If these problems are discovered during the course of your campaign they could have an effect on the end result.  Once you have tackled deferred maintenance and any larger issues then set about ensuring those 5% of things, such as your bright orange feature wall, don’t become the reason someone doesn’t offer on your home.


2. Clutter eats capital

We have all heard it before but, does that mean me? Yes. Everyone.
Decluttering your property is the number one most important rule in presenting your home to the market.

  • Clean down bench tops and cabinets and leave only good quality, display items which add to the overall appeal of your home. E.g a nice flowing hand soap in the bathroom, a funky mixer in the kitchen or a couple of new magazines on the bedside table
  • Remove personal photographs and items so that buyers can view themselves creating their home in your house
  • Store bulky furniture. Not only does it make rooms appear smaller but it can restrict the flow of buyers around your property at busy open homes
  • Pull furniture away from the walls. Interestingly enough this is a fantastic way to make rooms appear bigger than they are.


3. Prepare your property so that it is photo ready

  • Scatter colourful throw cushions and hang art on bare walls to add interest and colour to neutral rooms
  • Fresh flowers and pot plants can work wonders for the overall appeal of a room. After all, who doesn’t love flowers? We will often take a number of different jugs to a photo shoot and use the same bunches of flowers in multiple different places in the house. Be sure to refresh them during your campaign – dying flowers are worse than no flowers at all
  • Smooth beds, add height and luxury with euro cushions and make sure linen is fresh and clean. No one wants to sleep in a dirty bed and distracting buyers with matters of cleanliness will take their focus away from everything that is great about your home
  • Ensure bath or hand towels and tea towels are all clean and in good condition. We often recommend having a set of display items available so that when you leave your home in the morning everything that is on display adds to the appeal of your home and doesn’t detract from it.

4. Clean, clean, clean until you cannot clean no more!

When buyers view your property, they look everywhere – on windowsills and the backs of curtains for mould, in your fridge, in your pantry, in bathroom cabinets. Ensuring bathrooms and kitchens are clean and spotless will ensure buyers can view themselves living in your home rather than questioning your cleaning habits.


5. Smelly things 

Overwhelmingly, odours will send the buyers running. This includes cooking smells from particularly fragrant foods, pet odours, smoking smells and those of teenage boys (or girls!). This can be a difficult subject for your agent to broach so if they have plucked up the courage to do so, take it seriously.


6. Vacant properties – Sell the lifestyle and Maximise the Price

Vacant properties should always be sold staged. Staging provides scale for rooms and shows potential buyers how best to use the space. There can be quite a difference between stagers, with some incredible providers, adept at selling ‘the lifestyle’ – that intangible aspect of a house, which means buyers fall in love and pay more than they had ever budgeted for. Whether it be a coastal retreat or a cosy winter cottage, good quality stagers can add thousands to your bottom line. Don’t view this handy service as a cost, more of an investment in your end result.


7. Outside – Creating great ‘street appeal’

Water blast paths and stairs, and chem wash gates and houses, to remove mould and mildew that builds up over winter. Creating a fantastic first impression can set the tone for the rest of the viewing.
Use potted colour to add life and vibrancy to otherwise boring entrance ways and landscapes.


Advice from your agent

Any agent worth their salt will be able to provide you with sound advice on the best and most cost-effective ways to prepare your particular property for the market. When researching your agent, have a look over their sold listings.

Have those properties been presented well for the market? Do the photos look enticing? Have electrical items been hidden, bed sheets tucked in, duvets smoothed, cushions plumped and unnecessary items removed? If not, keep looking. There are plenty of agents who will labour over the best possible ways to ensure that it appeals to the widest range of buyers possible.
A bit of time taken in the set up will ensure you get the very best out of your marketing campaign.

The Wellington Market

Stock levels are seasonally low, but what’s interesting is despite good competition for quality properties, we are starting to see more conditional offers accepted by vendors. This indicates a significant shift in the property cycle.

The election is next month, so we are likely to have a slight pause while the market waits to see who’s going to be steering the ship for the next three years.

I mentioned in the last barometer to look out for the upcoming market data. This has since been released and has indicated a slowing and even slight retraction in Auckland. This is an important guide as the rest of the country takes confidence from Auckland. This won’t be the last of the negative reports to come out and I expect other regions will follow.


Wellington Market Quick Facts

Average sale price by Ward:


August Fun Facts

This month is the home of the New Zealand International Film Festival. We thought it would be fun to look into a bit of its history:

  • The film festival started in Auckland in 1969, shortly joined by the Wellington film festival in 1972
  • Now it takes place in 14 regions across NZ
  • The Wellington festival hosts over 150 programs to audiences in excess of 71,000
  • The main Wellington venue is the magnificent Embassy Theatre

Have you purchased tickets to see anything? See what’s on offer here.


Thanks for reading!

If you or anyone you know could benefit from a considered market assessment by Wellington’s only licensed agent and registered property valuer, please do not hesitate to call. We are always very happy to help.

Click here to book your free appraisal today. 

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