How to prepare your home for a property inspection

Are you ready to move on from your property? Give your home the best chance of selling by making small, yet important adjustments to your space. Your agent will thank you for it.

Selling your home can be an emotional time. You’ve probably spent years collecting memories – and junk – so getting your home ready for the market is the first step to take in the process of moving on. 
We asked Raine & Horne Sales Executive, Jack Turner, what really helps sell a property, and how to get your place ready for a successful open for inspection.

First impressions count

Generally, potential home buyers are an excited bunch. Not only are they looking for a property to begin the next stage of their lives, they’re also searching for an emotional connection. Making sure your home is clean, tidy and free from dust and cobwebs will not only show off your space in the best possible light, it gives a buyer the impression that you care for your home. “Whether you’re entering into a living area, hallway or foyer, the first room should always set the tone of the whole home,” says Jack. When cleaning, pay special attention to high-traffic areas like the kitchen and bathroom. If you’re short on time, smaller areas like hallways don’t always need a deep clean, but Jack warns, “Dusty skirtings or a rogue umbrella sitting against the wall can interfere with establishing that all-important emotional connection.”

De-clutter as soon as you can

After you’ve made the big decision to list on the market, start thinking about what you’re taking to your new place and the things you plan to throw out, sell or donate. “Aim to de-clutter at the beginning of the sale prep process rather than making it a night-before-job of ‘where can I hide this?’”, advises Jack. “People like to see the size and depth of storage areas and wardrobes, so stacking them to the brim and pretending all your junk doesn’t exist isn't the way to go,” he says.

When culling furniture and personal effects, how far is too far? “A buyer wants to feel like they’re stepping into their new home, not intruding on someone else’s,” advises Jack. “You don’t need to take down every photo or memory, because that will make your home look bare. But, try keeping sentimental items to a minimum.” Artwork is fine, but if you have a lot of family photographs on display, it's time to pack them away.

Finish off any repairs

“There aren’t many repairs that buyers will dismiss and not look to use as a bargaining tool, so completing any work on the property that you've already started can help to get you a better price,” says Jack. Even if you haven’t renovated recently, take a look around your home to make sure everything is in working order. Often, potential buyers will turn on taps and a leaky faucet isn’t hard to fix, but can be a potential turn-off.

It’s also essential that you don't overcapitalise with any cosmetic renovations. Jack says, “I’ve seen too many vendors repaint or recarpet a home to their style, only for a buyer with different tastes to come in and change it straight away.” If you want to renovate before you sell, ask your agent's advice on what changes will help your home to achieve a higher sale price.

Tame your garden

Before each inspection, pull out any stray weeds and ensure your lawn is looking tidy. “Buyers want gardens and outdoor areas to look as low maintenance and fuss-free as possible,” says Jack. “Even the biggest fan of gardening doesn’t want to see unnecessary weeding or work.” If you have an entertaining space, use your outdoor furniture and barbecue as a selling point – you want potential buyers to feel welcome and imagine themselves using the space.

Create the right ambience

There are a number of things you can do to enhance the experience of everyone who walks through your home. You’ve probably heard about baking fresh cookies or bread to evoke a sense of homeliness – but there is some logic behind it. “A lot of vendors have baulked when I’ve brought this subject up,” says Jack. “Think about it from the perspective of the buyer. They’ve had a busy day of open homes, but you can make yours stand out with scent.”  It’s easy to recall the ‘home with the freshly baked cookies’ or ‘the one that smelt like lavender.’ “Something as small as a scent - or an odour - can be the difference in your home selling or your neighbours,” he says.

Temperature can also play a pivotal role. "You don't want your potential buyers rushing to get in and out of your home because it is unbearably cold or they're distracted by the bead of sweat rolling down the agent's brow," says Jack. "An optimal temperature may not make someone buy your home, but it will ensure they are there long enough to appreciate it."

Take yourself and your pets out

As much as you'd love to be a fly on the wall, it's time to trust your agent and let them work their magic. Use the open home to take yourself off for a coffee, or run some errands. If you have pets, Jack advises you take them with you, too. "You wouldn’t leave your child behind in the back bedroom playing on their tablet, nor should you leave any other family member," he says. A pet can be a distraction for your agent to manage and can potentially shift focus away from the home, as you want potential buyers to have complete access to view all areas of your property.

Secure any valuables

Exercise common sense, here. "Over the 10 years I have been in real estate, I have never had someone’s belongings go missing at an inspection, but we do urge vendors to keep items such as jewellery locked away," says Jack. Err on the side of caution and secure your valuables - or take them with you during the inspection time.

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