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Preparing your home for sale - The Hansens
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Preparing your home for sale

Preparing your home for sale

Your home is your castle, and you probably think it’s perfect. Who wouldn’t want to buy it? Well, actually… most homes need a little preparation before listing.

Curb Appeal Matters

Many a buyer has refused to enter a home based on the way it looked from the curb. Sometimes it’s something that isn’t the fault of the owner—the buyer doesn’t like fruit trees, for instance. But most of the time, it’s one of several common reasons:

  • Unkempt lawn and landscaping
  • Dirty windows
  • Cluttered porch, deck areas and driveway
  • Peeling paint
  • Obvious roof damage
  • Tacky or dated colours
  • Damaged or missing cladding, trim or gutters
  • Broken concrete in the driveway, path or porch

If you make a poor first impression, you probably won’t get the chance to make a better second one.
Take care of all the items on the list above. If you need expert help with any of them, Team Hansen can recommend a number of reliable trade professionals (link to resources page)

Once you’ve dealt with the obvious curb issues, it’s time to start tackling the inside. You can either:

  1. Stage your home yourself by following the tips below
  2. Use a home staging company – there are many reputable home stagers out there who offer excellent advice and staging furniture at a reasonable cost.


Help Potential Buyers Imagine Themselves Living in Your Home
Ideally, your home will be as neutral as possible. Not everyone shares your taste for porcelain doll collections or taxidermy animal heads. Potential buyers aren’t there to admire your taste in decor or personal collections—they want to envision themselves living in the home. First, tackle the items on this list:

  • Remove personal photos
  • Remove extra clutter, including your collectibles
  • Replace any brightly coloured carpet with neutral colours
  • Remove wallpaper and wallpaper borders and repaint in a neutral colour

Meet or Beat the Competition

Buyers want to be able to move right in without having to spend a whole lot of money. The extent to which your home should be updated and current depends on your competition. Do all the other homes in your price range have new kitchens? A deck? A landscaped garden? If so, you have two choices:

  1.  Update your home to match
  2. Lower your sales price so that the buyer can do it themselves

Be careful of completing renovations before listing your home— you might not always be able to recover the costs. Do the bare minimum to bring your home up to neighbourhood standards; no more, no less.

Clean, Fix and Organize

The biggest complaint from buyers who are looking at homes is that so many of them are dirty, smelly and cluttered. You absolutely must make your home an attractive, pleasant place to be, or you’ll have a very difficult time finding a willing buyer. Here’s a list of “must do” things to do to get the ball rolling.

First, clean out every cupboard and storage space throughout the house. Get rid of stuff you don’t use—have a garage sale, donate items to The Sallies or Op shops or throw things away. Buyers love to open cupboards, drawers and cabinets, and they love the idea of having lots of storage. Your cupboards will look much larger if they’re almost empty. Do a thorough decluttering and reorganization of:

  • Garage
  • Shed
  • Storage room/area
  • Crawl spaces/Attic
  • Bedroom cupboards
  • Pantry
  • Kitchen cabinets
  • Bathroom vanity cabinets and drawers
  • Linen cupboard
  • Laundry shelves and cupboards
  • Under the stairs cupboard

Consider renting a storage unit for a while. Holiday decorations, off-season clothing, sports equipment and mementos or other ornaments can all be packed up and taken away. Even extra furniture. You’ll have to pack those items up to move anyway—why not do it in advance? Your home will look much larger when the rooms aren’t overcrowded. Once every room has been decluttered and organized, it’s time to clean. Here’s a basic list of tasks for every single room in your house:

Every Room:

  • Wash windows
  • Clean window blinds or replace if they’re broken
  • Take down curtains, wash them, iron and rehang
  • Remove light fixture coverings and wash them
  • Replace burnt-out lightbulbs


  • Scrub away all the hard water stains on the shower walls and fixtures
  • Wash rugs or replace them
  • Clean the vanity and sink thoroughly, including drawer and cabinet fronts
  • Clear the vanity top of ALL personal items: hairspray, curling tongs, makeup, etc
  • Clean out and organize the inside of the vanity
  • Treat any mildew or mould. Repaint if necessary
  • Replace the toilet seat
  • Take down and wash the shower curtain, or replace it
  • Replace dated or broken fixtures
  • Remove any clutter inside the bathroom
  • Keep toilet, sink, mirror, bath/shower and floor clean at all times


  • Replace stained, faded or worn bedding
  • Remove extra furniture, exercise equipment or toys and put them in storage
  • Keep beds made, floors vacuumed and furniture dusted at all times

Family Room:

  • Remove excessive furniture
  • Remove any clutter, personal items and photos
  • Keep carpet vacuumed and furniture dusted


  • Thoroughly clean every appliance, inside and out. Remove grease from the range hood
  • Clean the fronts of cabinets
  • Remove clutter from countertops and table
  • Remove everything from the front of the fridge: magnets, papers, pizza coupons, etc
  • Clean out and organize cabinets
  • Wash or replace throw rugs
  • Replace kitchen taps if broken, leaky or dated
  • Keep floor clean, counters wiped off and dishes out of the sink

Whatever you do, while you’re in the process of showing your home, keep it as clean and clutter-free as possible.


In the same way that people always complain about food never looking as good in reality as in the
pictures, it is very disappointing for house hunters to arrive at a property only to find it doesn’t meet
their expectations.

A house might be lovely in terms of its architecture and design, but unsuitable décor
and furnishing can let a property down and discourage potential buyers.

In order to ensure your home has the best possible chance of appealing to house hunters, you will need to find yourself a home staging consultant. There are numerous useful home staging websites on the internet that will help you find what you’re looking for, but as with all these things, word of mouth and reputation is always the best indicator to how reliable and suitable someone will be for the job.

Home staging consultants are able to give you help and advice about making your house more appealing to potential buyers, and will ensure your house is as presentable as possible for when buyers come to see the property.

  • They know the market. They know what people are looking for. You might not.
  • They will be able to give an objective opinion on the state and style of your house. Again, perhaps you might not. If you have lived in your home for a long period, it is especially easy to become emotionally attached to a property. Home staging consultants do not have this attachment, and only have one, very simple aim; to make a house easier to sell.
  • You will need experienced consultants to provide important, impartial creative advice that could make all the difference in your attempts to sell your house.
  • Generally, the price of employing a house staging consultant is more than covered by the increase in the house price generated by doing so.

You can expect the following from a company staging your home to sell:

  • They will create a neutral, light and appealing atmosphere inside the house.
  • Potential buyers will be looking for clean, well presented properties, and also need to be able to imagine themselves living in the house. This means the property needs to be depersonalised. Taste, as everybody knows, is an extremely individual thing, and if someone looks at your house and is confronted with anything too unique or personal, it is unlikely they will have the courage to buy the house and attempt to create their own individual environment.
  • Advisors will also make sure the exterior of your house is presentable, because of course, first impressions are everything.

The difference between a designer and a decorator.

Imagine a designer as a plastic surgeon and a decorator as a makeup artist.

  •  If a house needs substantial adjustments, you will need a designer with all the necessary experience, knowledge and training.
  • If, however, the changes to your home are more superficial, a decorator will be able to provide useful creative advice about furnishings, room layout etc.

Another crucial element in presenting a house is ensuring a property looks spacious.

  • Anyone who has ever bought or rented a property will know how valuable space is, and there is a refined art to making a place look bigger than it actually is (which, though sneaky, is exactly what you will be wanting to do if you want to impress house hunters).
  • Typically, consultants may recommend the use of mirrors (the larger the better, and for maximum effect, flush with a corner, or position mirrors opposite each other), advise you to repaint (light rather than white) or suggest using rugs and lamps, preferably projecting towards the ceiling (to create several distinct visual spaces within one room).
  • The importance of creating an impression of openness absolutely cannot be underrated.

Home staging consultants will also have good contacts in the trade business, should you need people to come in and do some work on the house. The experience and contacts they have acquired over their time in the industry will prove invaluable should you need to update or renovate your property.

Costs will obviously vary in each different instance. The overall fee will usually depend on how much the house price increases due to the work done on the property, but you’ll need to speak to your consultant about your own individual situation. And, of course, on top of that, you’ll have to pay the trades people required to perform the necessary adjustments to your house.

At the end of the day, a home staging consultant will make your house look open, depersonalised, and suitable for whatever the market happens to be at the time. However, as anyone who has searched for a house knows, luck plays a massive role in the house hunting game. It may be that the first people who come to visit your house love it, or it may be that the right people just never see your property, which can always happen even if it is in the best presentable state possible. Using a home staging company will, of course, not guarantee a sale, but you will be giving yourself the best possible chance, and it could be the most suitable option if you need to sell a property quickly and you are lacking in time or universally appealing style.

Team Hansen can recommend a number of reliable home staging companies.


  • Home staging can increase the value of your home by up to 10%
  • Our Team Hansen resident expert, Gary, has loads of design flair and knowledge
    and can help you anytime with all aspects relating to staging your home for selling.
Call Gary today for a chat.

Our Complete Moving Checklist

Remember to cancel

  • Newspaper and/or milk delivery
  • Telephone, internet and cable TV
  • Gas, water and electricity (arrange a final meter reading)

Notify your change of address to

  • Bank, credit card and charge card companies
  • Post office for redirection of mail
  • Elections registrar
  • Registrar of motor vehicles and driver’s license
  • Tax department
  • Insurance companies
  • Hire purchase or finance companies
  • Investment companies
  • Local council
  • Clubs and organisations
  • Police (if you own and store firearms)
  • Friends and relatives
  • Magazine subscriptions
  • Doctor, dentist, accountant, lawyer

Organise for moving day

  • Obtain supply of boxes (the supermarket can be one supplier)
  • Get packaging tape and heavy marker pens
  • Arrange for furniture removal (get quote, confirm time)
  • Arrange care of your children on moving day
  • Make suitable arrangements for any pets
  • Arrange transit insurance, home and contents, and fire insurance for your new home
  • Organise shifting times with the buyer of your old property and the previous owner of your new one

Don’t forget

  • Clean the stove and defrost the fridge/freezer
  • Tidy the yard
  • Ensure that the chattels that have been sold with the property aren’t accidentally packed
  • Disconnect all appliances
  • Disconnect the TV aerial
  • Return any borrowed items
  • Throw out items that you don’t intend taking with you
  • List valuable items for special care when moving
  • Advise removal company of dangerous goods being moved (i.e. ammunition, petrol, spirits, chemicals)
  • Securely pack all jewellery, money, special documents and papers (i.e. legal, tax, insurance etc)
  • Set aside items you will need on the day of the move so you can take them with you (i.e. food, drinks, cleaning products)
  • Pack each room leaving the boxes stacked and labelled with the room they are to be moved to. It is a good idea to write on each box a list of its general content
  • Clearly label boxes containing breakables as ‘fragile’ and identify these items to the removal people
  • Pot and pack away the plants and cuttings you’re taking
  • Explain your packing procedure to the removal people and be at your new home when they arrive


  • Put breakables or liquid filled containers in drawers
  • Overload drawers and make furniture too heavy to move (too much weight can damage furniture)
  • Move netting, barbed wire, timber, wood, coal etc without special arrangements being made
  • Store perishable goods where they might be overlooked

DO….Make arrangements to

  • See your solicitor to sign transfer documents / mortgage discharge documents
  • Enrol children in new school
  • Coordinate the forwarding of any files from the children’s previous school to their new one

Organise for your new home

  • Contact Harcourts Complete to connect your gas, electricity and telephone.
    Ask your sales consultant for details
  • Newspaper delivery
  • Telephone
  • Internet and cable TV connection
  • Gas, electricity and water

The week before moving

  • Remind and confirm dates, times and locations for furniture removal company
  • Confirm moving in/moving out details and key exchange with your Harcourts sales consultant
  • Say goodbye to neighbours

One last check

  • Nothing left behind?
  • No clothes at the dry cleaners?
  • No gear stored away from your property?
  • Electricity, gas and telephone disconnected?
  • Water turned off and no taps left running?
  • Windows and doors latched?
  • Keys with solicitor (if appropriate)?

After it’s all over

  • Have spare keys cut for your new home
  • Make an insurance claim if any damage has occurred during the move
  • Teach children how to get to their new school
  • Enjoy your new home and keep in touch. We’d love to hear how you’re going
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