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Preparing your home to sell

Preparing your home for sale


First impressions are always important, whether it be for a job interview or a meeting with your future in-laws. The same applies for showing your property to potential buyers. When putting your house on show, it is important to highlight your home’s best features to ensure that the best aspects of the property stand out. 

According to Jenny Rushin, Western Cape Provincial Sales Manager at Ooba, South Africa’s leading bond originator, selling a property in the current sluggish market can be challenging, but home owners can increase their chances of a sale by avoiding common selling mistakes and maximising on their home’s potential. 

“Buyers are becoming far fussier and are no longer settling for less than what they truly want, which means it is vital for sellers to make their homes as appealing as possible.” 

Rushin says in some cases it only takes a few tweaks to a property to make a vast difference to a potential buyer’s perceptions. “Sellers who effectively ‘stage’ their homes are more likely to sell their home faster and at a potentially higher price as buyers want a home that is ready to move into. Many buyers are less likely to visualize the potential of the home, so it is in the seller’s best interest to show off and maximise the property’s best features. 

“It is a good idea to spend a bit of money to make sure homes are as presentable as possible. It often does not cost a lot and even basic upgrades can make a big difference when it comes to getting the price you want.” 

Rushin offers the following guidelines on how to prepare your home properly for a show day:   

1. Price it right

Price is the biggest inhibitor to any sale and it is important to set the price at what the property is actually worth, and not what you think it is worth. In order to value your property correctly, get in touch with three agents who are the area experts and ask them for a valuation. 

2. Start with a great impression

The exterior is the first aspect of the property that a buyer will notice. Sweep the walkway, mow the lawn, trim hedges, weed flower beds and plant a few conspicuous shrubs so that it looks well-kept and tidy. If there is space, flower pots next to the front door make for an inviting entrance. Overall, ensure that the exterior of your property says "welcome". First time buyers, who, according to ooba, make up 52% of bond applications, are more likely to be influenced by first impressions. It is therefore even more important to ensure your property is welcoming.   

3. Market your home

You can't expect to sell your house if you keep it a secret. A good estate agent will assist greatly with the sale as they can market your property via their networks and contacts. It is also a good idea to check if the agent is marketing your house online in order to attract potential buyers. By advertising on a property website you will create maximum exposure and ensure that you get enough foot traffic through the house.  

4.  Make yourself at home

Agents should allow the buyer to walk around the house on their own to explore, as they are less likely to discuss the house or view the property thoroughly if they are being followed around. Give them space, but let them know that you or the agent are there should they need anything. 

5.  Lighten up

Gloomy, dark houses are a big turn-off. Ensure that your house is as brightly lit as possible – open all the blinds and windows and make sure that all of your lights work for testing. Cut trees and bushes that may obstruct light from the outside and add new lamps inside if more light is needed. 

6. Check the temperature

Ensure that the temperature inside the house is comfortable and inviting, so as to give the potential buyer more of a reason to linger, especially on hot or cold days. 

7. Maximise space

Make sure that your furniture fits the space. Buyers will think "small" if your furniture is oversized or will struggle to imagine what a space can be used for if it’s empty. Barren space can also make the room seem smaller than it actually is. In order to make the best use of a space, select furniture that will fill gaps purposefully.

8. Setting the mood

Ambient lighting, soft music, books, accessories and scented candles can create the right atmosphere. Creating an atmosphere of elegance and sophistication makes buyers feel they are looking at something special. Good illumination equals cheerfulness, while poor lighting can give a rather depressed ambience to any home. Flowers are an easy and cheap way to freshen up any house - placing a couple of vases of flowers around the home adds a real sense of style and will brighten up any room. 

9. Declutter, declutter

Toys, laundry, old magazines and other items should all be tidied away. Clutter makes spaces look smaller - and a messy home is a big buyer repellant. Also, tidying up doesn't mean you should toss everything into a cupboard as potential buyers are likely to open cupboards in order to get a sense of the storage space. 

10. Do basic repairs

The idea is to make your home more appealing to a broader range of sellers. Minor jobs can improve the finish of your home with little expense. This could include touching up paintwork, filling cracks, re-grouting, straightening cupboard doors, fixing dripping taps or cracked panes of glass, as well as replacing or polishing door handles. 

11. Lastly and most importantly – clean!

Make sure the entire house is spotless, particularly the kitchen and bathrooms. Tacky bathrooms repel buyers and may also make the visitor question what other surprises are tucked away and what else is in poor condition. Bathrooms can easily be spruced up with a new mirror above the basin, fresh towels and accessories such as hand soap or cream.