you having trouble selling your house? Youre not alone the
market is tough and potential takers are few and far between. Now, more
than ever, its vital that those interested in your home see it at
Barring essential, major renovations dont spend a fortune trying
to make your house more attractive. In a buyers market you probably
wont get a return on such an investment.
The importance of realistic pricing cannot be overestimated. However,
dont short-change yourself you can sell it quickly at the
price youd like.
Here are some simple tips on how to spruce it up without breaking the
Does your house have curb appeal?
A house without curb appeal is a house without sex appeal.
First impressions last, so it almost goes without saying how important
it is what your house looks like from the street.
Go outside and face your house from the road. Try to imagine that you
have never seen it before and attempt to think like a buyer would. Be
as objective as possible and ask your friends and family to do the same.
Does anything draw your attention? Can you plainly see your houses
number? Is the pavement clear? Is the paint peeling or are there weeds
growing through cracks in the driveway?
A great introduction is the first step to ensuring a quick
sell at a fantastic price.
- The garden. Keep your grass short and the edges neatly trimmed.
Grass as green as grass sells houses, so water your lawn regularly and
apply compost or fertilizer high in nitrogen. Reseed or replant if there
are any bare patches.
Remove weeds from the flowerbeds and trim shrubs and other plants so
they dont block any windows or entrances. Also, take out dead
plants and trees.
Planting colourful flowers and adding mulch to the flowerbeds are cheap
and effective ways of cheering up the yard.
- Gates and fences. Fix your fence and repaint a rusty or dirty
gate. Replace broken hinges and make sure it opens and closes properly.
- Gutters. Unclog blocked gutters and re-attach the places where
they might be sagging. Ensure that the soil where the water runs out
- Pathways and driveway. You need your home to be alluring so
keep these areas free from toys, bicycles or anything that clutters
and remove oil stains.
- Clear the clutter. Remove all junk and loose items like car
parts, lawnmowers, toys, etc. from your yard.
- Exterior lights. Ensure that all exterior lights are working.
- Clean the windows on the exterior and interior and check that
they all work properly. Paint faded window sills.
- The outside walls. Do they still look clean and crisp? Its
not always essential to paint, but they should at least not be dirty.
According to Wendy Reay, a Fine & Country estate agent, one has
to consider the neighbourhood when deciding whether or not to paint.
You have to budget according to the market, so it depends on what
area you are in. Is the house less the R1-million? Or more than R3-million?
This factor should have a huge impact on your decision to paint or not
Youre going to sell the house anyway, so dont buy expensive
paint and stick to a conservative colour white is usually best.
- A great entrance. The entrance to your house should be very
well lit, clean and free of any clutter. A fresh paintjob is called
for if your front door looks dull or uninviting. Remember, this is where
all potential buyers enter your house, so skimping on its renovation
if its even remotely needed makes no sense. Tighten doorknobs,
apply oil to squeaky hinges and make sure the doorbell works.
Providing a rug to sweep your feet as you enter the house will help
cement the idea that the house is tidy and therefore a good buy.
Be creative when making the entrance as alluring as possible. Simply
having some fresh flowers at the entrance to your house can add great
value, says Reay.
Do you normally use a back or side entrance? If so, its important
to pay particular attention to the front entrance as youll be
less aware of its condition. By hanging a mirror, the front entrance
will appear bigger and brighter.
Preparing the interior of your house
Go outside, open the door and stand there for minute. Do you feel like
going inside? Does the house invite you in?
Reay reckons that very few buyers can envision what a house might look
like after renovations have been done. There is no use in telling potential
buyers of your intention to fix, clean, paint, repair or replace something
in the house. They wont see it and will simply scratch
your house from their list. In my experience, most people arent
visual. They dont walk in and see the potential or they might be
in a rush. Whatever the reason, they dont stand there and think
about what they could do if it was their place. This is a fact
I know that.
Space is a top priority for many buyers, so make as much room as you
can. A new furniture arrangement might inconvenience you for a few months,
but it can help create a great show case for prospective buyers.
Buyers must be able to imagine themselves living in the house so its
vital that you de-personalise your home by removing most of your pictures
and family heirlooms.
Take care to ensure stylistic continuity. Giving one room an antique
look while keeping another contemporary will make your house seem very
Consider borrowing artwork, cushions or nice lounge furniture,
advises Reay. On one occasion I literally borrowed more than R500
000 worth of things for a house I was marketing. You can easily change
the whole vibe of a room. Dont only borrow some things, borrow a
lot of stuff! You want to make money out of this, right?
- The kitchen is probably the most important area of a house
when it comes to how fast and at what price it will sell. Having said
that, if your kitchen is only somewhat scruffy, theres no need
to redo it completely for your home to leave a good impression.
Clean the outside of all your kitchen appliances and the inside of your
oven. If you have tiles, pay careful attention to cleaning the often
To create more space store all items that you dont often use inside
The counters, stove and sink should sparkle. Degrease the oven and thoroughly
clean the refrigerator just in case the buyer wants to look inside.
According to Reay, if you have some money to spend this is where to
do it. Find a good carpenter. Instruct them to buy super
wood and have them redo the cupboards. There are all kinds of
styles you can choose and super wood is really inexpensive.
- Paint. A new paintjob does wonders for the whole look and feel
of a house. Keep the colours neutral off-white is best.
- Floors. If the carpets are worn it would be best to replace
them. If not, a good steam clean will do wonders. Vacuum if you know
a viewing is imminent.
Wooden floors are almost universally preferred over carpets even
If you have tired carpets over wooden floors, pick them up,
says Reay. By throwing out the revolting carpets and fixing up
the wood you can easily add 10 percent to the price of your house.
- Once again, clear the clutter. Consider all the stuff
in your house if you rarely use it why not throw it away or store
it until youve sold your house? Remove all your books from the
bookcases and clear the kitchen counters.
- Brighten the braai. Clean your indoor braai or fireplace and,
if its not too much to ask, resist using them while showcasing
- Closets. Tidy closets appear larger, so go through all of them
and throw out or store away everything you dont use often. Buyers
love to snoop so make sure all the closets are tidy and spotlessly clean.
- Doors and window should all work perfectly.
- The living room should only have a few pieces of furniture
so as not to appear smaller than it is. Remove some of the books from
their shelves and get rid of any ornaments that you are displaying.
Remember the golden rule no clutter!
- The bedrooms. You guessed it remove all clutter! Seriously,
if you dont need it every day its best to store it away
until you sell your house. Rearrange the furniture in a way that allows
a couple of people to easily manoeuvre around the room.
- The bathrooms. Everything must be clean, shiny and smelling
like daisies. Most people want the bathrooms to be bright, so fit the
highest wattage light bulbs that your fixtures permit.
Dont forget to clean the grout when washing the tiles. Fix dripping
taps and broken toilets. Remove any signs of mildew and unclog all the
drains. Have fresh towels ready and hang these up before a buyer views
Reay suggests you buy some baskets filled with spa treatments such as
lotions, moisturisers, scented soaps and candles.
Get tile paint if your bathroom is very dated or has an eccentric
- The garages. You know the drill, remove all junk! Broken car
parts, old golf clubs, boxes, toys they all have to go. Clean
oil marks from the floor and allow ample room for the buyer to imagine
his or her car in the garage.
Youre house is shipshape, squeaky clean and uncluttered. Now,
its show time!
- Let there be light! Open all the curtains and turn on the lights
(make sure all bulbs are working and that there are no dead bugs in
the fixtures). Brighter is better!
- The sweet smell of success. Air the house out before a showing
to get rid of foul odours like those of your dog or husband. Get some
anti-tobacco air freshener if you have smokers living in your home.
Brew a pot of coffee or bake some cookies, but make sure your house
- Mans best friend, a sellers worst enemy. Remove
all pets from the house before a showing. Having pets in the way is
sure to dampen the spirit of many a potential buyer. If youve
got a large dog in your yard have someone take it for a walk while youre
showing your house. Woofles might be part of the family, but keep in
mind that some people dont like dogs or are scared of them.
- Cleanliness is next to godliness. Every nook and cranny must
be absolutely spotless, especially in the bathroom and the kitchen.
Make sure all linen and towels are clean and smell better than daisies.
- Unclutteredness is godliness! Repeat this mantra over and over:
No clutter, no clutter, no clutter
- Create a rapid reaction force. Often an agent will
arrive with an interested buyer at very short notice always be
ready to rock! Allocate a task or room to each family member to take
care of and make sure everyone knows exactly what their responsibilities
are. Your rapid reaction force will ensure an immaculate
house even if the agent and potential buyer steps in 15 minutes after
alerting you theyre on their way.
- Supply a fact sheet. A fact sheet is a document with your houses
vital statistics. Home buyers often view many houses so
its easy to forget which attributes makes one or the other special.
Supplying a fact sheet will place your house above the others in a buyers
The fact sheet should include all basic information like the amount
of rooms and bathrooms, size of the house, stand and individual rooms.
Also, include all aspects of your house that make it stand out from
the rest. This might be physical attributes such as the style of the
house or other things such as access to amenities that are close by
or good schools that serve your neighbourhood.
Other things to mention: Do you have a pool? Describe the kitchen, bathroom
and bedrooms in as much detail as possible.
Do you have air-conditioning? Is there a double or single garage? Do
you have a pool or Jacuzzi? Is there a granny flat on the property?
What are your rates and taxes?
Your own and the agents contact details should be prominent as
well as a stunning, high quality picture of your house.
Print the fact sheet on quality paper and be sure to hand it to the
buyer before they leave.
- Using an agent? Then go away! Make yourself as inconspicuous
as possible if you cant get out while the agent is showing your
house. If it is comfortable outside, go there until the buyers leave.
You don't have this luxury if you are selling on your own. In that case,
be as helpful as you can but don't crowd the buyers.