Preparing your Home for Inspection
Our Top 10 tips to make a great first impression with prospective buyers
I think we can all agree that having prospective buyers come to inspect your home can be a daunting thought. It can feel very personal and if you’ve run out of time to properly prepare, you really ARE selling yourself and your property short. Not to mention you never want to be in the embarrassing situation where simple dirt marks or things that could have been tidied up properly are left around for potential buyers to see. In this blog we give you our Top 10 tips for preparing your home for inspections so you can achieve a flurry of offers and top dollar for your home. Make sure you don’t miss the little-known-fact in tip #5 !
Tip #1 to preparing your home for inspection: Clean your home like a pro
Having a property that sparkles the moment a buyer walks in the door is absolutely essential. There is nothing that is going to devalue your home; or turn buyers off more quickly than a house that looks dirty, grimy or uncared for. While professional cleaners are great, and would be good to get in to do your first big overhaul, you really need to make sure that all the details are taken care of before each inspection. Things to pay particular attention to include:
Windows and mirrors
Make sure you clean each and every window until they all sparkle before each inspection. Windows let in much more light when they are immaculately clean. This can make a big difference to those all important first impressions. This also applies to mirrors especially in bathrooms. Make sure you clean and polish them to within an inch of their life.
Flooring and Ceiling surfaces
Make sure your carpets are properly cleaned and tiles are reflecting the light as much as possible. Don’t forget grime and dust on the skirting boards when you are doing this step too. Check for cobwebs high up near the ceilings and make sure any ceiling skirting are dust-free.
Cleaning your Cupboards – inside and out
People DO look inside your cupboards. So make sure you’ve cleaned them inside and out. Make sure you only have the essentials in them and there is ample space in your cupboards – not a pile of junk just waiting to tip out onto the floor!
Doors and drawers
One of the biggest mistakes people make when thoroughly cleaning their home is not cleaning their doors and drawers. This is not just cupboard doors (which are essential) but also any other internal door (as well as your front and back doors!). Make sure the dirt that collects behind doors and at the back of drawers that you may not notice every day is eradicated and there is not a skerrick of dust in sight with the door open, ajar or closed.
Bathrooms and Kitchens
Pay particular attention to bathrooms and kitchens; including glass doors, sinks, behind the toilet, taps, stoves and oven-tops. Pretend like your home is a 5 star luxury hotel that your favourite celebrity is going to come and stay in, and clean accordingly! Make them sparkle. (And don’t forget to empty the rubbish).
Tip #2 to preparing your home for inspection: Do a mini garden makeover
Put time aside to make your garden presentable, fresh and inviting. It goes without saying to get rid of any garden tools, toys, or sundry items that are not where they should be. Get rid of weeds in pavers or in the garden; mow the lawn and tidy up any edges around garden beds or pathways. It’s always good to also prune overhanging trees and shrubs. If you have an outdoor entertaining area, make sure the furniture and flooring is mould free and clean. It may be looking a bit tired, so you might want to freshen the furniture up with some inexpensive cushions and colourful flower pots to make it look more inviting. Your garden may include children’s play equipment or other garden features, so make sure they are functioning and mould & mildew free. If your pavers or pathways have gathered mould and mildew over the years, think about hiring a hot water pressure cleaner to make them look new again; and to ensure no nasty falls on the slippery surface.
Tip #3 to preparing your home for inspection: Repair any obvious problems – well presented suggests well maintained
There’s a saying that says ‘don’t pull the thread’. This means that pulling one little loose thread on a rug, can unravel the whole rug. If you leave obvious issues unfixed, this is the equivalent of “pulling the thread” with prospective buyers. You are essentially leading their minds down a path of questioning you don’t want them to go. For example – they see a cracked window and a broken tile on the floor. They’re only tiny cracks and breaks, but it starts them thinking …. ‘has this home been cared for?’ … ‘how much more maintenance work am I going to have to do?’ … ‘what else is broken / not working?’ … how much extra money am I going to have to spend fixing things in this home?’. As you can see – this is just not something you want them to be thinking when they are deciding if your home is worth buying, and how much they’re going to offer for it. The solution? Fix obvious problems well before inspection day! Examples include
- Re-grout tiles
- Fix broken glass, mirrors or tiles
- Paint over stained (or chipped) surfaces on walls
- Fix any plumbing issues like leaky taps or water pressure issues
TRUST THE PROCESS, NOT THE AGENT
Tip #4 to preparing your home for inspection: Style your Home
A stylish home begins with one that is decluttered and easy to move around. Make sure the furniture in each room suits the purpose of that room, and only the purpose of that room. So, for example, don’t keep that bed in the study. If you haven’t already, you need to declutter each room so it contains only enough furniture and ornaments to look lived in, but no more. Then make sure the room looks stylish. Try to stick to a simple colour palette in the home that is fairly neutral with a well thought through couple of accent colours. Any ornaments or photos should be arranged in bundles and lined up nicely. If you have a collection of items, the magic number that is a home stylists best friend is ‘5’ – for example 5 evenly spaced items on a mantlepiece. Make sure beds are perfectly made with matching throws and cushions; and any floor rugs are lying flat and perfectly positioned. Books on book-cases or shelves should be neatly lined up by size. Minimise anything left on display, such as ornaments and photos, bathroom items, or anything on your bedside table. Straighten up any wall hangings.
Tip #5 to preparing your home for inspection: Create an inviting scent
Ideally your home should not smell. However if for whatever reason yours does, you should mask it. Even if your home doesn’t have a bad smell, you want to make sure it feels fresh – which includes having plenty of fresh air circulated around the home well before inspection time. So, in plenty of time before your prospective home buyers arrive, open as many doors and windows in your home to get fresh air in as possible. If this is not enough, you may spray air freshener into your rooms about an hour or so before inspection time. Keep it simple – many people are sensitive to these smells and you don’t want them wondering what odours the smell is hiding.
Interestingly, a scent test by MasterChef judge Gary Mehigan and aroma specialist Dr Megan Thornton put some popular scents to the test. Prospective home buyers had to test the impact six scents had on the perceived value of a home.
“Overwhelmingly a citrus scent came out as the most likely to persuade homebuyers to pay up, nosing out freshly baked brownies and bread.” (read the full article here)
Tip #6 to preparing your home for inspection: Maximise the light
Forget your electricity bill when preparing your home for inspection, and before each inspection, turn on all the lights and lamps in your home. This creates a warm, lived in, inviting ambiance. It also reassures prospective buyers that you are not trying to hide any flaws in your home with bad light. You should also remove heavy drapes; draw back heavy curtains as much as possible; and pull all blinds up to maximise the light in each room.
Tip #7 to preparing your home for inspection: Control the temperature
Keep your prospective buyers comfortable during their inspection by controlling the temperature of your home. Turn the air conditioning or the heater on as required. You don’t want buyers sweating as they inspect your home because it’s the height of summer; nor do you want them clinging to their jackets because they’re soooo cold! Even if they love your home, if they’re not physically comfortable, they may be itching to get out of there and into a place where they are. This means you lose the potential to really connect with them and talk to them about their needs and how they might match all the features of your home. When they are comfortable, they will associate your home with comfort and positive feelings; and will be more likely to stay and talk with you.
Tip #8 to preparing your home for inspection: Personal but not too personal
Anything fresh and colourful (if tastefully done), can add an inviting, ‘lived in’ feel to a home, without being too personal. We recommend a vase of flowers with one or two colours in a living room and/or entrance way. Be sure to avoid any highly scented flower that may put off buyers with an allergy or sensitivity to smell. Fresh fruit is also a nice touch – we recommend just sticking to one type and having it stylishly placed in a beautiful bowl in the kitchen. Also hang fresh towels in the bathroom perfectly aligned; and fresh tea towels in the kitchen. Make sure they compliment the colours of the rest of your home and are new if possible to keep that fresh feeling. Anything beyond this like setting the dinner table can be a little too contrived.
TRUST THE PROCESS, NOT THE AGENT
Tip #9 to preparing your home for inspection: Remove pets and any sign of them
Some people are dog people, some people are cat people, and some people just don’t like pets. So why take your chances by leaving your pet and evidence of your pet around? Best to get friends or neighbours to look after your animal while you are doing your inspections, and make sure all their favourite toys, baskets and other pet accessories are tucked away well out of sight.
Tip #10 to preparing your home for inspection: Leave Marketing Materials
It’s great if you can leave buyers with something to go away with like colourful brochures or flyers. Put them in an obvious location and invite them to take one home with them. Include your best photos and useful information like the sale price, contact details and best features of your home. You also might like to include some well selected examples of homes that have sold recently in the area and what they sold for, if you are wanting to pitch your home in a certain price range. We hope you have found these tips useful and wish you all the best with your home inspection!
Other Useful Links
- How to sell your own Australian Home
- I want to sell my own home without an Agent – help me!
- How to sell my home privately with low commission in QLD
- Why it’s delusional to think your home can be sold
- Can I sell my home without a Real Estate Agent?
- 7 Step recipe for selling your home like a Pro