Sell fast at a profit
Car dealers do it, department stores do it, bakeries do it and you can too — make your product look good, that is. If you're ready to sell your house or apartment, make it easier and more lucrative by following these simple tips.

Cosmetic changes don't have to cost a lot and they can help you get a much better price on your home. The two most important places are the kitchen and the exterior, according to some leading estate agents.

Don't think a little paint and some pansies on the porch will cover up major flaws, though. Even if the scent of lemon and a well-scrubbed floor distracts the buyer, the assessor they hire will likely discover those leaky pipes and damp walls. Most sales are subject to an inspection so cosmetic changes will not cover up major problems. You get into serious legal issues if you try and cover up defects.

If your home requires major work, get it done or lower the price. If not, there are many things you can do to improve the look and price of your place.

A potential buyer's first impression is what real estate agents call 'curb appeal'. Be sure your humble abode makes it past that initial drive-by.

  • Maintain the lawn and shrubs. Put in a few small flowering plants.
  • Make sure the entrance is tidy and welcoming.
  • Paint window casings, shutters and doors.
  • Keep garbage cans out of sight.
  • Clean out gutters and drains.

Even in a beautiful house, sloppy housekeeping will give buyers pause. Cleaning your home is the easiest and most cost-effective thing you can do to make it more appealing. You want their focus on the bay window and two-car garage — not the carpet stains.

  • Tend to the little things — oil squeaky hinges, tighten cabinet knobs and fix leaky taps.
  • Clean dirty carpets and make sure the bathroom is spotless.
  • Polish the fixtures, replace the old shower curtain, declutter the countertops.
  • Clean the oven as many people check there for a clue to your housekeeping habits.
  • Work out an arrangement with your kids to keep their rooms neat.

We're all proud of our decorating abilities, but unless you're selling the place furnished it's more important to help prospective buyers envision their stuff in your house. They need to imagine themselves in your space, so make it easy for them.

  • Clear stuff from the garage, basement, attic and closets.
  • Put extra furniture and belongings in storage.
  • Let the light in.
  • Open drapes and blinds (unless your view is of a parking lot or your neighbour’s lawn ornament collection).

If you hire an estate agent, they should advise you about improvements. Agents are in and out of a lot of homes. They know what most appeals to buyers in your area. Get the low down on what does and doesn't work.

If you think these cosmetic details don’t work, I can tell you from personal experience that they do. A close friend of mine bought a home and six months later she had to relocate. In the meantime she spruced up the home with the help of some paint, a talented gardener and good cleaning agents.

Her total cost for the mini renovation was R16 000. She originally paid R730 000 for the home and sold it for an incredible R900 000. She actually made money on the deal, which is rare feat in this market and considering she only held the property for six months. So get out the oven gloves, hone your painting skills and make some extra cash on your home.

Adapted from an article on

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