Preparation is key when it comes to the timely and successful sale of your most valuable asset. Engage a knowledgeable agent to get your home or investment property looking as attractive and welcoming as possible. Follow my tried-and-tested steps for presenting your property in the best light – it can make a real difference to your sale price.

In my work as a real estate agent in Thornleigh I’ve guided many people through the process of preparing their home for sale. To make it easier for you, I’ve put together this checklist to give you some guidance and insights into making this exciting, sometimes stressful, life-change run as smoothly as possible.

“Preparation is key to a successful home sale.”

1. Choose your real estate agent

Look for someone who knows your area well and comes highly recommended, with great word-of-mouth referrals.

I’ve lived in Thornleigh for 17 years, which gives me an in-depth understanding of the area, from the most coveted streets to its many excellent schools, best local cafés and parks.

When I talk to buyers, I can convey a genuine enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, living in the area. An agent who knows a suburb well is also going to be able to give you a realistic idea of the price you can achieve given local market conditions.

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An added benefit of a local agent is that they will have sold enough homes in the area to have a good database of local buyers, so they talk to people already looking for a house without even having to advertise.

One last tip – don’t be taken in by agents who say they have exclusive buyers.

No agent owns buyers.

2. Walk your agent through your house

Putting yourself in the shoes of your potential buyers isn’t easy with something as personal as your home. That’s why it’s worth having your real estate agent look at your house and advise you on where you should focus your attention. Agent knowledge helps you avoid overcapitalising, or turning off buyers with issues that can be easily fixed.

“Put yourself in the shoes of potential buyers.”

I’ve sold many houses here in Thornleigh and know what type of buyers are attracted to the area and what they’re looking for. Every property is unique, so it’s good to gain a professional opinion as to where your money is best spent and where you can hold back. As a real estate expert, I can also put you in touch with excellent and trusted local tradespeople to help get your house ready for market.

3. Sort out your legal advice

You can’t sell a property without a contract of sale so you’ll need to engage a conveyancer to organise your documents, carry out title searches and manage the exchange of contracts when you sell.

If you don’t have a property conveyancer, again this is an area where I can introduce you to some excellent conveyancers who’ve represented either sellers or buyers of mine, and with whom I’ve been particularly impressed.

4. Put your finances in order

Having your finance in place is a good idea in case you sell quickly. Our agency is affiliated with a mortgage broker so we can offer an end-to-end service, with bridging loans, new mortgages and related financial services.

5. Get a builder’s report and a pest report

These are two important pre-sale tasks to cross off the checklist early so you can complete any maintenance or repairs straight away.

Although there are always going to be people out there looking for the worst house in the best street to renovate, most buyers want to move in, unpack and get on with their lives.

Any maintenance or repairs done prior to putting your house on the market will add to its appeal to the majority of buyers, who are time poor, in full-time work, and want a well-maintained home that’s ready to go.

6. Brighten up your space

Go through each room and make a list of what you can do to improve its appearance. Think about inexpensive cosmetic details that will make a big difference.

These include:

  • New carpets
  • Modern door handles
  • Repainting or sanding back kitchen cupboards
  • Replacing the kitchen benchtop (which will make a huge difference to a tired kitchen and much cheaper than installing a new kitchen)
  • New taps or an out-of-the-box bathroom vanity

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I always tell my vendors that a fresh coat of paint gives you the biggest bang for your buck. You’ll recoup every dollar spent on paint; it’s definitely the cheapest way to smarten up your home’s interior.

“A fresh coat of paint gives you the most bang for your buck.”

Again, it’s worth talking to your agent before embarking on any major pre-sale renovations to ensure your spending is consistent with the sales in your area.

What you might think needs to be done – a new kitchen, for example – you might not recoup in your sale price. Each home is unique so it’s worth getting a professional opinion before making unnecesary improvements that you may not recoup financially when you sell.

If you’re a retiree or downsizer, for example, it might make better sense to save the money and use it for any improvements you might want to make in your new home.

7. Organise and declutter before your home goes on the market

Now is a good time to have a clear-out prior to marketing photography and home opens.

Get a skip, sell things on Ebay, hold a garage sale and donate to charity. This will not only improve the look of your home but also make your eventual move less stressful.

Most people will first see your home online so you want your photos to really stand out. A stylist who specialises in real estate marketing can make a big difference to this vital first impression.

8. Get gardening

You don’t need to embark on a massive landscaping project, but a few new plants and some pruning and tidying up will make your garden look larger and more appealing to buyers.

Stand at the front of your house and try to look at it as a product. Think of what else is on the market around you, and what you can do to make your home stand out.

First impressions are hard to change, so create the warmest possible welcome to buyers seeing your home for the first time.

  • Spread mulch over garden beds.
  • Get rid of weeds and prune overgrown bushes.
  • Pressure hose paths and driveways to remove moss and dirt.
  • Clean your gutters.
  • Paint guttering if your roof is looking tired – it makes an amazing difference for a reasonable price.
  • Consider exterior painting to make a memorable first impression.
  • Think about some seasonal pots of colourful flowers.
  • Transform your main entrance with a new, stylish front door.

9. Prepare for home opens

Think of open home days as an opportunity for buyers to imagine themselves living in your home. You want your home to look as fresh, uncluttered and lovely as possible.

  • Get a cleaner in the day before so you can focus on styling your home.
  • Place a bowl of lemons on the kitchen bench, or use fresh flowers and indoor plants to add beauty and charm.
  • Get your windows washed for instant sparkling appeal.
  • Hide family photos. Buyers won’t be able to imagine themselves living in the house with someone else’s family looking down at them from the walls.)
  • Remember to hide all valuables, just in case.

Local knowledge shines

Always keep in mind that a good agent who knows the Thornleigh area well will be able to tailor this checklist to suit buyers most likely to be interested in your property.

As an agent, I enjoy helping my clients through what can be a stressful and exciting process, and am always on hand to help.

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