Getting your home ready to sell

Private Property South Africa
Property Power

The home that you live in and the home that you are selling are two different things. The home you are selling is a "product" with competition around every corner. You need to make your home appealing to as many people as possible. Home buyers generally find clean, cosy and spacious homes inviting. People need to be able to imagine their own furniture and belongings in the house and visualise what this house would look like as their home.

Here are some simple tips to ensure neatness, cosiness, spaciousness and appeal:

Outside Your Yard:

First impressions last, so:

  • Make sure that the lawn on your verge is neat and the sides are trimmed.

  • Rinse off any rain splatters on the outside boundary walls, and fix the cracks.

  • Paint the boundary walls, palisade fencing and front gate if they appear faded or stained.

  • Repair damaged pre-cast walls or walls that are practically falling over.

  • Make sure the locks and/or motors, any lighting and communication systems on the front gates are in good working order.

Garden:

A well-kept garden which looks easily maintainable is appealing:

  • Keep the grass mowed and the sides trimmed.

  • Rake up any leaves that have fallen from the trees.

  • Trim all dead leaves off the plants.

  • Make sure that all toys and garden utensils are picked up and put away before a buyer comes to view your home.

  • Keep the pathway to the front door clear and easily accessible.

  • Maintain the shed and other structures in the garden, i.e. the washing line.

  • Fix the cracks in the driveway and poison/remove the weeds between the paving.

  • Make sure the roof and gutters are maintained.

  • Repair or replace any window putty that is cracked or chipped, and repaint once dried.

  • Make sure that wooden window frames are maintained. Treat the wood if it appears weathered.

  • Make sure that the pool is well maintained.

  • Please pick up any "mess" your animals have made… and that includes the most recent shoe or toy that has been shredded.

  • In summer, it may help to give the garden a few drops of water before a viewing.

Inside:

Buyers generally prefer a home that they can just move into, without having to do anything else…

  • A good spring clean before you put the house on the market is always a good idea. A buyer will perceive that there is less work to be done on a house that is clean and tidy.

  • De-clutter! By packing away a few personal ornaments and smaller pieces of furniture, you can make your home appear more spacious.

  • Keep your kitchen and bedroom cupboards uncluttered. Pack clothes and utensils away that are not often used. The more space - the better.

  • Pick up all the toys off the floor before a buyer comes to view the house - you don't need any embarrassing accidents.

  • Arrange every room in the house as neatly as possible.

  • Neutralise your colour schemes as much as possible. Harsh or powerful colours do not always appeal to everyone. Walls painted with neutral colours may be better from a resale perspective.

  • Make sure the walls and skirting boards are clean and are not cracked or damaged. Re-paint where necessary.

  • Repair any leaking taps and toilets.

  • Replace or repair anything that is broken or missing, i.e. washing basin plugs, cupboard keys and locks, loose door knobs, and so on.
  • Repair all sticking or squeaking doors and windows, warped cabinet doors and drawers and all other minor flaws.
  • Pay attention to any woodwork on your home and treat it accordingly if necessary.
  • Replace broken or cracked windows.

  • Make sure that all your lights are in working order and where necessary replace broken bulbs.

  • NEVER try to hide any serious damage, like damp or a leaking roof. Please read the articles on the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) and Patent & Latent Defects in the Property Power Magazine. In terms of the CPA, a buyer’s rights have increased tremendously, and in certain instances a seller may be held responsible for any defects, even after the property has transferred to the new owner.

  • In summer - open some windows and doors to let the air in.

  • In winter - let some fresh air into you home for a while before a viewing.

Tips on what NOT to do when a buyer is browsing:

  • When an estate agent is showing your house, let him do the talking. He knows what his client is looking for.

  • Be friendly and welcoming, but don't have a conversation with the potential buyer, unless asked a question.

  • Do not try to sell furniture and furnishings to potential buyers.

  • Do not apologise for the appearance of your house (as long as it is clean and presentable).

  • Keep pets out of the way - it is preferable if you lock away big dogs that are not trained or used to strangers in the yard.

  • Keep in mind that when you sell your car, you go to all the trouble to make sure that it is in immaculate condition. Why not do the same with your home?

This article originally appeared in Property Power 11th Edition Magazine. To order your copy at the discounted price of R120 click here.

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