Preparing a tired looking home for sale

Preparing a tired looking home for sale

Renovations, Tips and Advice

preparing a tired looking home for saleWhen selling a home it’s often tempting for people to take the view that the less they spend on the property the better. Less spent = more profit. Besides, the new people will probably just change things around anyway, right?

Well, actually that thinking is quite often wrong and can result in fewer offers and a dramatically reduced ROI.

My home is looking tired, what should I do?

Well, to start with I’m not recommending that you undertake a full renovation if you’re intending to sell in the next few months. Different of course if you bought the home to renovate and then on-sell in 12 – 18 months time or longer  – in which case you should have called me by now. But this article assumes that you are looking to sell your home soon and you’re looking for advice on what you can do right now that will help bring more offers of a higher value.

But before we get into that, I want you to put yourself in the shoes of the buyer. What do you think they want to see? A ‘fixer-upper’ or a clean, spacious, inviting home that doesn’t require a lot of additional time, effort and funds to bring up to a liveable standard? I know which one I would choose.

Finish off and tidy up

The first thing you need to do is finish off any home improvements that have been started but never finished. Trying to sell a home that has a bunch of half finished projects is not only hard work, it’s costly too.

I met someone recently who had sold their two-storey home a couple of years earlier. They had always intended to put in an internal staircase but sold it with only external access to the ground floor. Looking back on it and comparing their home to other properties that sold in the area they believe that conservatively they cost themselves $85,000+ by not putting the internal stairs in before they went to market. Their home took a long time to sell, with hoards of potential buyers put off by the lack of internal access.

So even though you are selling your home, it can pay to invest some money into finishing off those projects you had always intended to complete.

Depending on how much you expect to get for your home it might be worth doing a mini-renovation, like removing some walls to create a more open living plan or having a quick landscaping job done on your yard. A quick, well-designed makeover can add some serious value to a home and help it sell faster.

Make sure the house looks solid

If you want people to make offers it’s important that the home looks structurally sound. There should be no water leaks. The floors should be clean and level. The windows shouldn’t have cracked glass or broken seals.

Gutters should be clean with no leaks and no bits hanging off the roof. Also be sure to fix any loose or wobbly items, particularly stairs, balustrades and handrails. Repair leaking, dripping taps and fix any doors that have dropped or are hard to open or close.

Invest some money in the little things that matter.

If anything is looking tired and dated consider replacing it. Floor coverings that have marks or stains that can’t be cleaned or covered up should be replaced as should any dated or tired looking fixtures and fittings.

Buying new bed coverings or new towels and mats for your bathroom can brighten up an otherwise tired looking room. Colours should be subtle and complement the existing décor.

First impressions are vital

Stand out the front of your home and look back in. Are the lawns and yard completely tidy? How is the exterior of your home? If rendered, is it clean? Are there any cracks or chips that should be repaired and repainted? Even if you can’t afford to paint your entire home it might pay to repaint the front of your house if it’s looking tired or you’ve needed to make some repairs.

Of course, peeling paint or marks on the walls are not a good selling point. If you do need to paint the interior of your home, stick to neutral colours that won’t put buyers off. Make sure you choose light colours which give your home a more spacious appearance. Be sure to repair any cracks or holes, particularly nail holes, before you paint.

Spacious and inviting

The interior of your home needs to look clean and spacious and to achieve this it’s important that the rooms are furnished.

I’ve known people who have moved out of the home they are selling who leave rooms empty, thinking that this allows prospective buyers to picture their own furniture in there. Some even believe it makes the rooms look more spacious, when in fact the opposite is true.

Empty rooms look smaller and even if people don’t have the same taste as you in furniture, seeing furniture in a room gives them a better idea of how their furniture might work in that space.

Of course, you should get rid of any clutter. It’s worth hiring a temporary storage facility to help declutter your home. It’s important that people can move freely from one room to the next. Flow is an important subconscious consideration to those looking at purchasing your property. Move or take out any furniture that people may bump into or struggle to get around. Things like side tables and extra chairs might be better off being placed in storage, leaving less furniture in each room.

Consider packing some of your clothes in storage as wardrobes that are packed tight with clothes look small to potential buyers, whereas those with fewer garments hanging in them look more spacious.

Open for Inspection

Specifically, during the ‘Open for Inspections’, make your home seem bright, airy and inviting by opening windows and blinds and letting the light shine in and the breeze flow through. If it is a freezing cold day, you will want to heat your home and keep external doors and windows closed, but even on those days still open blinds and curtains to let the light in.

Getting serious about selling your home

If you want to get top dollar for your home it’s worth investing in having it brought up to standard. A small mini-renovation or makeover can be the difference between getting the price you want or accepting something less.

At dion seminara architecture we can help you decide what’s needed and whether your home would benefit from having some extra work done. So if you’re thinking about selling give us a call and let us give you some advice that just might help you achieve the price you’re after.

Dion Seminara Architect


We are experts at home design, renovations and new homes and ensure good value for money outcomes.

Hi, I am Dion Seminara, practicing architect and licensed general builder for 30 years as well as an environmental sustainable design (ESD) expert. I graduated from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) with honours, QLD in 1989. Registered as an architect in 1991 and registered as a builder in 1992, I am also a fellow member of the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA). Having received 12 ArCHdes Residential Architecture Awards, LJ Hooker Flood Free Home Design Award and the 2016 AIA Regional Commendation for Public Architecture, my expertise with both residential renovation (to all types of houses, especially Queenslanders, 50s/60s/80s), new contemporary homes and luxury residences has earned me a reputation as one of Brisbane's architectural specialists in lifestyle design architecture, interior design and landscape design.