How to prepare your house for sale

top 9 tips to prepare your house and attract potential buyers

Selling your home entails a whole lot more than just planting a “For Sale” sign on your front lawn or uploading a few random photos of your property. Some of these tips are surprisingly easy, while others might require a bit more elbow grease but they will help you to obtain a great result. There is no second chance at a first impression, so get to it!

1. Find a great real estate agent

One of the most important things to do before selling your house is find a great real estate agent. Find a dedicated, responsive, and knowledgeable real estate agent – someone you can trust to guide you through every step of selling your home. A good seller’s agent will make informed recommendations about a listing price, advise you on which repairs will help you sell your home and make recommendations about decluttering, staging, and maximising your curb appeal. A good seller’s agent excels when it comes time to negotiate an offer and meet your desired selling price. The goal is to make sure you earn top dollar for your house and to sell it in a time frame that suits you.

This process starts by establishing the correct listing price. If your home is priced too high it will likely sit on the market and possibly longer than most homes in your area. This may cause prospective buyers to second-guess its value. If your home is priced too low, you could leave money on the table and diminish the equity you would bring to the purchase of your next home.

Your ideal selling agent will have well-developed instincts for what the real estate market is doing in your area. Take your time and speak to several agents to find someone you can comfortably work well with and will work hard for your interests. HKY is proud to have No. 1 selling agents in numerous suburbs who will be happy to discuss your individual needs.

View of the front of a house.

2. Curb appeal

Make sure potential buyers’ first impression of your home is a good one and inspires them to stop by the open house or schedule an inspection. By investing some effort in relatively easy fixes your property will stand out and attract potential buyers to come on in. Keep up with lawn maintenance, pull weeds, plant flowers, fix the fence, pressure clean the driveway, clean up the cobwebs and put a fresh coat of paint on the front exterior. Something as simple as making sure your house number is visible can make a difference.

If you’re not sure how to improve your home’s street appeal without spending too much money, ask your real estate agent for advice on how others in your area have improved the exterior before selling their house.

3. Depersonalise

Sellers should remove personal items and family photos, as well as bold artwork and excess furniture that might make the home less appealing to the public. The goal is to create a blank canvas on which buyers can project their own visions of it being their future home.

From art to jewellery, iPad to passports, keep your valuables and personal property out of sight and locked away. It not only helps the house look more clean and spacious, but you can’t trust everyone who comes into your house, even when you’re trying to sell it. Take care to hide your valuables or move them to a safe space away from your home.

Modern, decluttered dining room.

4. Declutter… and then declutter some more

We all accumulate stuff. However, you want potential buyers to be looking at your home, not your belongings. Have your home appear move-in ready so buyers imagine themselves and their things in your space.

To do this, you’ll need to be relentless about removing as many personal items as possible and commit to a minimalist lifestyle, removing excess furniture (at least until you go under contract on your house).

Keep items that are used regularly accessible but out of sight if you can. Remove anything seasonal like decorations or anything you won’t use for months.

It’s all about perception. A house with minimal existing furniture, unstuffed cupboards, tasteful artwork and a general lack of surface clutter will look clean, spacious, and appealing to the potential buyer. If the house is overflowing with stuff, buyers might worry that the house won’t have ample storage space and room for their own belongings.

5. Fix things

It might be tempting to put off small repairs and let the next owner handle them. Unfortunately, if you list a house with evident and necessary repairs, prospective buyers will also scrutinise your property more closely for larger deferred maintenance issues.

For a buyer, submitting an offer, and later committing to a mortgage, is a big deal. When you’re selling your home, you don’t want to give any buyers doubt.

There are a number of quick fixes you can do, but some cost more than others. So some of the most lucrative projects you can do include:

  • Ensuring all light switches and light fittings work
  • Ensuring door handles work and are secure
  • A fresh coat of paint
  • Neatening garden beds
  • And so much more

What’s determined to be the most lucrative project will differ depending on the house itself. Speak to one of our real estate agents today to find out more.

Father and daughter having fun with cleaning gloves on and ready to clean.

6. Clean and clean again

Once you’re done cleaning your house, clean some more – we’re talking spring clean level. Even if you’re not worried about what buyers will think of your home’s scent, you want your property to look spotless as this is bound to leave a positive impression.

You’ll probably have professional photos taken of your house when it looks its best. Naturally, you’ll want your house to always look like it does in those pictures.

When selling your home, it’s important to keep everything tidy for buyers, and you never know when a buyer is going to want to schedule a last-minute inspection. Remember to take special care with the kitchen and bathroom, making sure the tile, bench tops, shower and floor sparkles!

Candle lit and pink diffuser with black rods.

7. Conduct a smell test

The most subtle scent can turn a potential buyer off or trigger a negative impression. Unpleasant smells like cigarette smoke or lingering odours can be a deal breaker. Try to detect any pet smells or lingering odours from your kitchen. If the smells are pervasive, prepare to do some deep cleaning.

Hot tip: Wherever possible make sure your home has the opportunity to breathe and when it comes time for your home inspection light a candle or diffuser to create a sense of cleanliness.

8. Professional photography

Professional photography is a priority to show your home in its best light.. Homes listed with high-quality, professional images are known to sell quicker and for more money.

A professional real estate photographer will capture each room at the best angle and highlight its best features. You can also request photos shot at dusk with both interior and exterior lights shining.

It’s all about painting those special pictures in your buyer’s mind. If you’re selling a listing with a view or large block of land, consider drone photography to fully capture everything your property has to offer.

Home staging with furniture and home decor strategically placed.

9. Home staging

One of the most important real estate tips is staging your home. The purpose of staging is to show buyers the home’s potential. You want all the main rooms – kitchen, dining room, living room, bathrooms, and master bedroom – to create the feeling that they are already home.

Key home staging tactics involve:

  • Placing furniture and throw pillows and blankets in an inviting way. Try to use neutral tones where possible.
  • Set a dining room or kitchen table.
  • Placing a vase or two of fresh flowers or potted plants around the home is a nice touch and helps to add life.
  • Open up blinds to let in as much natural light as possible.
  • Have some background music ready to play but keep it positive and upbeat, as certain types of music can influence buyers to stay longer.
  • Other obvious tactics when it comes to home open day include turning all the lights on, opening all doors including the front door, and lighting a candle or diffuser (as mentioned above).

Checklist for photography and home inspection

Entire home:

  • Make sure the property is clean throughout including windows, walls and blinds.
  • Declutter and de-personalise, it is best to take down family or personal photos and secure any valuables.
  • Complete the small jobs you have been meaning to do, like fixing the shower rail or broken curtain rail. Although small, these items will make a big difference in the overall presentation of your home.
  • Make sure all lights are working and switched on.
  • Light is essential. If you do not have enough, look for ways to create it.


  • Remove magnets/paperwork/photos from the fridge. No dishes in the sink.
  • Clean cooktop, backsplash and range hood.
  • Bench tops should be clear of household appliances and clutter, leaving the surfaces clean and presentable.
  • Add flowers, a simple glass vase, or bowl filled with fresh oranges and lemons.


  • Make all beds and ensure that all bedrooms are well presented and show their true size.
  • Remove clothes and personal items from the floor and surfaces.
  • Ensure items under beds are not visible. Tidy walk-in robes.

Bathroom, toilet, laundry:

  • Clean all surfaces, baths/basins, and shower screens.
  • Bathroom bench tops should be clear of household appliances and clutter, leaving the surfaces clean and presentable.
  • Make sure showers are clear of toiletries and bathmats.
  • Make sure dirty/clean laundry is put away or out of sight.

Outdoor area:

  • Mow lawns and prune flower beds.
  • Sweep and even look at pressure cleaning the floor.
  • Clean the pool, remove creepy crawly and hose, and ensure all pool lights are working.
  • Remove garden equipment, tools, rubbish bins and play items.

Frequently asked questions

Some additional FAQ’s about how to prepare your home for sale. Have more questions? Get in touch and we will put you in contact with your local real estate agent.

When it comes to whether or not you should renovate your house before you put it on the market, you should ask yourself a few questions: Do other houses in your area have something that yours doesn’t? If so, how much is this going to cost to add on and is this cost going to be reflected in the sale price?

There are a number of other factors that come into play when determining whether or not you should renovate your home before you put it on the market. For more information, talk to your local real estate agent who will be able to assist.

A fresh paint job on the exterior and/or interior, updating the kitchen and/or bathrooms to a more modern and clean design with new fixtures, adding solar panels and other energy efficient changes are also becoming more sought after. However, it’s important to note that the best updates to make depend on each individual property, and you should seek independent advice from your local HKY Real Estate agent before making any major changes.

Some simple steps you can take to prepare your house for sale include:

  • Declutter, simplify and remove personal things like family portraits.
  • Make sure everything is in working order (lights, light switches, door handles and locks, windows, oven, stove top, heaters, fans and air conditioning).
  • Wipe down all surfaces including the entire kitchen and bathroom, and put away appliances and other unnecessary items.
  • Make beds, make sure items under bed are not visible, laundry is put away or out of sight, and that walk-in wardrobes are clean and tidy.
  • Mow lawns, prune garden beds, sweep, and clean the pool.
  • Add a little extra touch with a candle, fresh flowers or diffuser for when the home open takes place. You’ll be surprised how much smell can affect the buyer's thinking.

For more information, speak to a HKY Real Estate agent today.


Staging your home allows the buyer to visualise what their life will look like in your home and creates more of an emotional response from potential buyers. This can in turn help to secure a higher sale price.