Tips to Spruce Your Home Before Sale


You can only make a first impression once, and the front garden is where it happens.

“A charming front garden will always create a lasting impression on the minds of buyers and set the scene for the further attractions the home has to offer,” said Robert Elezovic, director of Raine & Horne real estate in Brunswick.

Simple landscaping such as trimming trees and shrubs, mowing lawns (including your neighbour’s nature strips), keeping paths moss-free and weeding garden beds will raise the appeal of your home. Freshening up faded guttering, timberwork and fences and painting, if necessary, will give your home a fresh appeal.

Additions such as colourful spring bulbs and mature trees can give your home that well-established look, while feature pots are an effective way to lift unexciting or awkward corners or block unsightly spaces.


Make sure the features of your home are not overpowered by a theme.

While it might work for you, it has been known to backfire, according to agents.

Prospective buyers could spend more time checking out your flair for decorating, drawing attention from the home’s actual features.

“In most cases, less is considered more and a simple neutral theme can work best,” said Mr Elezovic.

“Remember, you can’t please everyone.”

Going with simple furniture or period pieces that suit the era of your home will complement it.

Borrow or hire furniture if you need – a spectacular piece could set off a room.


A spring season needs to start with a spring clean.

Steam-clean carpets and polish floors. Clean windows, light fittings and clear cobwebs – inside and out.

Personal items, bric-a-brac, family portraits and ornaments should be kept to a tasteful minimum.

Give your home a greater sense of space by storing unnecessary items and organise wardrobes and closets.

Your home may have limited storage space, but you don’t want to demonstrate this to the buyer.


“The best features of the house can be highlighted with furniture and lighting,” said Michael Fry, property consultant with Nelson Alexander in Northcote. “Any dark areas, includ-ing hallways and corners, should be lit.”

Placement of furniture can make a world of difference to the sense of space of your home. Don’t close off rooms by overcrowding them.

A mirror opposite a window can project light into darker places creating a larger sense of space to prospective buyers.

Remove any unnecessary items such as large coffee tables or bulky desks.

If you have a home office in a room other than a study, pack it up before the sale campaign. Rooms have an intended purpose – there’s no need to showcase your home’s lack of features or space.


Present the main bedroom to potential buyers as tranquil, calm and spacious.

De-clutter all surfaces, remove unnecessary possessions, and invest in a nice sheet set for your bed.

Do not store items under the bed or on wardrobes where they are visible.

Organise wardrobes and ensure they look clutter-free and spacious. This will give prospective buyers a better sense of storage capacity and leave less to the imagination.


Your kitchen needs to demonstrate its function.

All bench tops should be free from clutter, although stylish appliances such as a kettle and toaster can stay if they enhance the kitchen’s appeal.

Cupboards and pantries should give the impression of ample storage, so toss out anything you don’t use. Clean all appliances including the oven, as agents say buyers will inspect a house from every angle.

Improvements can be made from something as simple as changing cupboard handles and bench tops – or consider replacing it altogether. New kitchens start at about $3000 but can be the key to whether a prospective buyer comes for a second inspection.


Ensure your spring clean focuses on the bathroom, as buyers consider this to be a reflection of the usual condition you keep the home, according to agents.

Your bathroom should be light and airy.

Where natural light isn’t available or is limited, a fan heater with a strong light might be an important and inexpensive investment. Re-enamel basins and the bath if they look worn.

“Towels should be matching and clean,” said Mr Fry. So put out your Sunday best.

Make sure the bathroom is free from mould and stains, and keep clutter-free all ensuites and toilets.


Check out display homes for contemporary colour schemes to give your home a modern, fresh look.

However, agents advise that you should think about the dimensions of your rooms. A feature wall or dark colours may look good in a display home, but can close off a room, particularly if it doesn’t catch natural light.

Light, neutral colours are best, according to agents. They can add to the sense of space and carry light through dark corners.

“Take the time to research your period-style home,” said Mr Elezovic.

“Find out the original colours from the local council and/or the internet and adopt them for your colour theme.”

Ensure all colour schemes complement your furniture for the sale campaign.

“You could always invest a small sum of money and hire a colour co-ordinator,” Mr Elezovic added.


Agents agree that pets should be locked outside or removed from inspections and auctions altogether. Prospective buyers do not want to be distracted by an excited dog or be sneezing because of an allergy to cats. Be sure fur, pet food and associated odours have been removed before opening your home to prospective buyers. It may be worth setting your dog up in the dog house after your major spring clean and during the sale campaign.


Start attending inspections and auctions for the months before listing your property for sale, to get an idea of real estate agents and auctioneers in your area. It’s a great way to see what kind of service prospective buyers of your home will receive, should you list that agent.

When talking to real estate agents about listing your property, don’t be fooled by “cowboys” who promise a sale price significantly higher than the others you have received.

Your agent should pass a basic test of knowing how much properties in the area have sold for.

Be careful not to sell your home on holidays, long weekends or grand final day.

Baking a cake or making a pot of coffee does help make a good first impression, according to agents. But turn off any music: agents say this can distract prospective buyers from giving the place their full attention.

“The natural sounds of spring should be enticing enough for the potential buyer so, if it’s a nice day, leave a couple of windows open and take in some of that wonderful spring air,” said Mr Elezovic.

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and print journalist, Marc is the publisher of