How to maximise the sale price for your home

Home Renovation
Real Estate
Team MONEYME|17 March 2023| 8-minute read

Whether you’re selling the family home, a holiday house, or an investment property there are preparations that all vendors should consider to get their property ready for market. 

Top of the list is decluttering, repairing, cleaning, and styling the house, townhouse or apartment. That will cost time and money but the return is worth it. 

“I would say if you’re gonna put $1 in you want to make sure that you get $3 back, so if you’re spending $10, 000 you want to make sure that the return will be around $30, 000,” said Village Real Estate Director John Luong

It’s time to declutter the home

Open homes are typically a part of every property sale. Prospective buyers walk from room to room trying to picture the house becoming their home. 

It’s easier for future homeowners to imagine themselves setting up shop when a house is decluttered.

Decluttering involves sorting, storing, and depersonalising your house. You sort through household items that you’re no longer using, store things away from toys, linens, to kitchen condiments, and remove any personal items from your home. 

Principal at SPACE Property Ashgrove Michael Shean said less is more. 

“The less that you have the bigger the home looks, the tidier it looks, the more attractive it looks,” he said.

Decluttering is particularly important in the Queensland market.

“A lot of homes especially Queenslanders don’t always have an abundance of storage options or solutions,” Shean said. 

“People end up accumulating things on the floor or around the home and if you leave that on display, it demonstrates there’s maybe not enough storage in the home.”

When it comes to decluttering it’s often a question of time rather than money. 

For those looking to declutter bit-by-bit, room-by-room it could be a process that plays out over weeks. For others, a fast declutter is a good declutter, taking just days or even hours.

“It depends on somebody’s budget, but most people do it themselves,” he said.

If vendors do have the budget to employ professional declutterers industry rates vary from $80 an hour up to $125 per hour.

Once you’ve had out with the old to move onto the new, homeowners should consider the next preparatory item on the to-do list – repair work.

A front to back, top to bottom clean

There’s a reason parents ask their kids to clean their room before guests arrive, they want to make a good impression.

It’s no different when it comes to presenting your property to market. Just like with hosting a dinner party, when vendors host an open home cleaning can help to make a strong first impression.

“Cleaning to me is one of the biggest things and it’s imperative – there’s no such thing as a property being too clean,” said Shean. 

A clean property leaves an impression on buyers that the house is well maintained, that it’s looked after and that it’s in tip-top condition.

“Everything has to be perfect – kitchens, bathrooms, sliding door tracks, windows, floors, everything in my opinion,” he said.

When the sink is clean, the kitchen is spotless and the sliding door tracks shine buyers assume the areas they can’t see – under the house, in the roof – are also in good condition. Signs of dirt, mould, or dust suggest to buyers that a property needs to be repainted, requires structural repairs, or needs fixing.

“You want every buyer that walks through the door to go ‘this is the home for me. I can see myself living here. This is the one that we want to try and buy’,” said Shean.

Vendors often turn to professional cleaning services to help get rid of stubborn spots of mould, dirt, and dust, particularly in tricky places like grout lines in the bathroom and kitchen.

Professional hourly cleaning rates in Australia average between $25 and $60, according to the Yellow Pages. For a standard three-bedroom clean the prices range between $70 and $180 per hour. For a deep clean including everything from the oven to the windows, costs start from $150 and go up to $250 per hour.

Shean said priority should be placed on the front of the house. 

“External cleaning of the property is a cheap, but effective way of improving the first impression,” he said. “Every house that we sell gets an external wash before we list the sale.”

There is a wide range of jobs that can help transform the front of your home. From landscaping to painting, to pressure-washing steps, pathways, and driveways. 

The cost of cleaning ranges depending on the size of the property, the services needed, and whether you do it yourself or bring in professionals. 

SPACE Property in West Brisbane employs a professional company to hand wash the front and back of every house it lists. 

“Depending on the size, the costs are somewhere between $300 and $500, for thorough external cleaning,” said Luong.

The front of the home is the hero shot said Luong – it has the potential to make or break first impressions from buyers.

In January 2022 Luong sold a quaint Seddon home in Melbourne, largely due to a charming exterior.

“The house had a lot of street appeal, it was a really good-looking house”, he said. “It was a popular campaign because the house was so pretty.”

After spending a few thousand dollars on professional painters and landscapers, the vendors of 29 Gamon Street secured a sale of $1,480,000 – surpassing original expectations.

Luong said people are attracted to cosmetically pleasing homes. 

If vendors can tend to the garden, apply a fresh coat of paint, sand hardwood floors, or steam clean carpets it can make a big difference at the point of sale.

Carry out any pre-market repairs

A key recommendation for all vendors is to repair any maintenance issues plaguing the property. From a leaky tap to a rotting deck, the rule is that if it’s broken, fix it. 

“It’s a turnkey solution, said Luong. “Buyers want something, and they’ll pay for it, that’s ready to move into and enjoy from day one.”

A broken latch, chipped plaster, or a weed infestation can create hesitation among buyers.

‘If there are any doubts or any issues with the property then people often walk away from the first inspection, saying ‘we’re going to have a think about this one and we’ll let you know’,” said Shean.

The Ashgrove agent recommends that all of his clients undertake a pre-purchase inspection. A pre-purchase inspection is an assessment of the property’s condition that essentially creates a list of items in need of repair. They usually cost between $500 and $600. 

“It becomes a list that you can hand directly to a professional person, who can make those improvements,” he said.

In May 2021, Shean listed a five-bedroom, family-friendly, gable home in Ashgrove. Six weeks before the property went onto the market, the sellers got to work.

“They did a lot of painting, a lot of landscaping, and they staged the whole property,” he said. “They spent a lot of money in the garden, retiling the pool area, changing the pool fence, and returfing.”

The vendors spent between $20,000 and $40,000 renovating, repairing, and preparing their property. It paid off.

The sale of 31 Foch St set a suburb record by achieving a sale price that was $350,000 above market projections.  

“They did everything that they should and they were rewarded for their efforts,” Shean said.

The total cost of repairs will depend on the property itself. If it’s a lick paint you’re in need of for the front of the house you can expect to pay around $40 to $60 per square metre

Recarpeting is one of the cheaper tasks on the pre-sale to-do list.

“I had a full house done and that was around $4,000 for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house,” said Luong.

According to Canstar the potential cost of pre-market repairs and renovations can start from $100 to upwards of $30,000.

Styling a dream home

Prospective homeowners aren’t just looking for a property, many are looking for a home. 

A successful sales campaign paints a picture of that home for buyers. 

The living room is decked out with comfortable couches, a widescreen TV, and a sophisticated coffee table. A queen-size bed sits in the centre of the main bedroom, with a bedside table and reading lamp placed on either side.

These simple but stylish touches are essential said Luong.

“When people are looking at a home or going through a home that’s empty all they see are four walls – there’s no emotion,” he said. “People search with their heads but buy with their hearts.”

There are a number of options that vendors can consider when it comes to styling their homes. For those with a limited budget, Shean recommends virtual styling or partial styling.

“It’s about creating the best possible impression of the property,” he said. “There are solutions depending on what someone’s budget is.”

For those with more room to spend styling costs can range from $2,000 to $6,000  according to Domain and

“You want people to see themselves living in the property,” Shean said. “If vendors do have a greater budget than things like styling take it to the next level.” 

“By having furniture that encourages somebody to fall in love with a property, then they’re going to have a greater emotional interest in the property.”

It’s all about cost-benefit analysis

The cost that comes with preparing a property can disincentivise vendors from investing.

Luong said the benefit of pre-sale prep outweighs the cost. Sellers who choose to put time and money into the property’s presentation, always see a return on their investment.

“What we do when we go through a property is we put the buyer’s cap on to minimise any objections that may come up,” he said. “ You want to make sure that you’ve done everything possible to get the maximum amount.”

To ensure you’ve properly prepared your property cross-reference your to-do list with a vendor selling checklist.

But what do vendors do who want to invest, but are limited in their available capital?

“There are solutions to achieve a similar outcome if you don’t have the money,” said Shean.

Pay-later platforms solutions are available to support vendors covering listing costs for marketing, staging, home improvements, and repairs.

One of those solutions is ListReady. The pay later platform allows vendors to cover the cost of preparing their property for sale.

“All of these costs are minor in the scheme of things but they all have a massive impact on the investment return when you sell,” said Richard Bray, ListReady’s chief marketing officer.

“Investing $15,000 to $20,000 might seem like a lot, but if your house is selling for around $1.5 million for example, then investing $20,000 into preparing it for sale is around 1% of the selling price and can generate you thousands of dollars in return.” 

Using ListReady, vendors can invest up to $35,000 without paying any upfront costs and then repay once the property settles.

Prepare your home for a successful sale and visit ListReady today.

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