It’s one thing to sell your home but it’s another to maximise the sale price & the dollars you earn.

That ‘age old’ adage does hold true – you need to spend a dollar to make a dollar, this is no different to when it comes to dressing your home for success. BUT, putting the ‘WOW’ into your home is not always about spending big, rather it’s about ‘investing wisely’ with what you do. 

These expert tips will guide you to some obvious & less obvious things you can do.

Before we jump into tips on injecting the ‘WOW’ into your Home. We need to establish the main ways in which buyers will see & interact with your home. 

  • Online photo’s this will be the first introduction of your home to the market. An Agent will choose the ‘Hero’ shot; this is the photo that is the cover page of your campaign. It tends to be of either your Home’s front façade or of the backyard where there is a pool / outdoor entertainment zone… We also know, that there will be photos of the kitchen, bathrooms, living areas and one or two of the bedrooms. 
  • Walking or driving past this is all about Street Appeal. A lot of buyers will drive past your home once seen online so its about what your home looks like in the day but also at night time. 
  • At your Open Home Inspection this is the first chance a buyer has to picture your home as their new home. We know that we don’t want buyers feeling the photos were better than the house ‘in real life’ and we also know first impressions last. So being able to step into the shoes of a buyer and walk through your home, with a buyer’s lens on is crucial to preparing your home to ‘WOW’.

1. Street Appeal – Exterior of your Home

First impressions are formed before a buyer even makes it through the front door. As such, you’ll want to ensure you’ve presented the exterior of your home in the best light possible.

Questions to ask yourself: 

Does the home exterior need paint and cracks fixed? If weatherboard, do any need replacing? 

Tip – if painting, think about colours also think about maybe instead of painting the whole house, you simply paint the window frames & trims. OR simply painting over a brown garage roller door with a more contemporary colour. Got an old timber paling fence, its amazing what painting it black will do! 

Does the garden need a declutter and spruce up? Gardens should complement the style of the house and give a sense of space. 

Tip – Sense of space is valuable to a buyer as well as feeling garden is low maintenance. This is something you can do yourself, clear weeds & cluttered shrubs. Period style house, plant some Standard Roses or got a pool area, looks great with tropical plants… make sure you plant in-season blooms. For your lawn, fill any patches with lawn seed (need about 4 weeks to have seed grow) or roll out new turf (if needed). Aim to have your garden ready in the days before photos, so it’s looking its best.

Would the home look more appealing with outdoor furnishings?
Would the front porch look smart with a bench seat and cushions, the backyard furniture and pots looking tatty?

Tips – Creating clusters of different sized planted pots can work better than having them spread around the garden. You can have too many plants & pots so may need to declutter. Also adding outdoor cushions to furniture brings vibrancy, don’t be shy to go with bright colours outside. Clean up the outdoor BBQ area and declutter the shed!

Other Tips – High-pressure hose driveway/paving/even your house, re-coat deck, lay fresh mulch to garden beds. Clear out gutters, get a new house number (if needed), if you have a Period style home then mounting a name plaque is also smart and can be a sentimental way to leave your legacy. 

 2. Lighting – The not so obvious tip

Every home buyer wants their home to feel a sense of light. This is the reason why homes with ‘northerly’ aspects sell for a premium as these homes have the benefit of more natural light. So, for the rest of the ‘non-northerly’ aspect homes out there, we need to create more light! 

So how do we create more light?

Wel,l you can go to the length of installing skylights which is the more expensive option but does look divine. However, a more affordable yet impactful solution is upgrading to LED downlights, adding in some ‘on trend’ pendants over your kitchen island and investing in outdoor lighting. This investment is in particular worthwhile if you are selling over the colder months and/or having evening Open Home Inspections.

Budget permitting, another artificial way to create more light, is to paint interior walls a crisp white and/or upgrade any drabby window furnishings and/or flooring.

3. Make minor touch-ups & maintenance

Now we know you love your home but this is where you need to leave the sentiment at the door and bring out the critic!! Take the time to walk through each of your rooms, with a clipboard in hand to make notes after asking the following questions

Do I see any cracks or things that need repairs? Test blinds, windows, doors, power points etc…

When I go into this room, can I move about freely? Remember multiple buyers come through at once so any congested rooms can become really congested during an Open Home. Use this question as the start of your decluttering process or maybe the room just needs its furniture re-arranged.

Is there anything that is looking a little worse for wear or is there a more modern version that will look better? 

Tips – Given how affordable tapware is, as well as, cabinet handles maybe upgrading to a on trend material such as matt black, or brushed nickel could do wonders.

4. Decluttering & Banish Smells – This is obvious but sometimes the hardest

Decluttering can be an emotional journey for some, so the first thing I recommend is to take your time. In summary, ‘Less is best’ there is no other way to put it. A good way of thinking about it is after selling you will be moving so use this as a way to not only declutter but also organise for your move. 

Ask yourself, what do Buyers want to feel when they walk through your home? Remembering that all Buyers want a sense of space and light so packing away personal traces, clearing benchtops, removing furniture that blocks movement etc.. are all smart decluttering decisions.

Tips – Do one room at a time, invite family to come and help or do by yourself if that suits, also don’t be shy in inviting any adult children who have moved out to come and collect the boxes they have left! Gumtree and Facebook marketplace is a great way to get rid/sell items and you also have storage solutions and businesses who can come and remove rubbish as well. 

Let’s speak about the elephant in the room!! This is also the time to banish any odours or smells. Sometimes odours reside in old furniture and furnishings so decluttering may be the solution. However, your home could require more of an exorcism, step is always to identify where the odour is coming from and either professional clean and if not solved by a clean, then you may just need to remove the cause altogether. 

Tips – Regardless of odour or not, having a professional clean of your home is a great idea. Relatively affordable and while Buyers may not notice how clean your home is, they 100% notice if your home is not clean. So, play it on the safe side, and get your house cleaned from top to toe. For those of you with an older home or even a run-down home, the rule of ‘my home is old therefore does not need to be clean or decluttered does not fly with Buyers’ Buyers respond well to cleanliness & decluttered spaces even if they are going to fully renovate a house.

5. If in doubt, hire a stylist – This could be the smartest investment you make

Yes, there are the few homeowners, who just seem to have a knack at styling their home perfectly. But for the rest of us, we need some help and it is worth your while as styled homes do attract higher sale prices… This is a logical thought, it’s why shops, restaurants, bars, hotels (the list goes on) invest big dollars in presenting their premises with a style that specifically targets the consumer they are wanting to attract… Your home is no different, let’s present it to best attract the buyers.

The art of styling is so much more than just nice furniture, it’s also about giving your home a sense of emotion & feeling. It is about the right sized furniture, creating texture & layers, placement of furniture and décor throughout. 

To read more on the value of styling, check out a great piece written by one of Melbourne’s leading experts Susan Williams from Aura & Form Interiors.

6. Night Before Your Open – Icing on the Cake

Ahhhh so all your hard preparation work is complete, feet up and time to sit back …. NO IT”S NOT TIME to sit back, you have one final task. That’s having your Pre-Open routine organised. Normally, the Agent will want you to have left home about 15 minutes prior to Open time so tips for the night before or morning of:

  • Have candles in the kitchen and bathrooms, if wanted you can also have them in the main living and master bedroom. Try to stick to a uniform scent for the greatest impact. Have a lighter organised so you can light them up just before you leave home.
  • Flowers are not a must but they do look great as a centrepiece on your dining table. Do not feel the need to go large arrangement, stick to a cluster of one type or colour of flower for greatest impact (a bunch of hydrangeas or tulips).
  • Try to shower well before the open so the bathroom has time to un-steam and dry out.
  • Try to empty the dishwasher, laundry and other things that could leave a smell.
  • Give the garden a once-over, lawn mow, rake leaves, clear your nature strip, put bins away…. and tap your neighbour on the shoulder if you need them to move a car or anything else. 
  • If it’s cold or hot, turn on the heating or cooling well before the Open. If you have a fireplace and it’s chilly then get it started. 
  • Time to walk out your front door so candles burning blinds up and curtains open, all lights on, room doors open, beds made, house tidy and also play some ambient music.

So now you are ready! There is a lot to digest but there are some great people, businesses & tradies out there to help. With kids, getting your home ready for the open can be stressful but hang in there as the standard campaign will only have about 8 Open Home Inspections. Rest assured, that by doing the work you will end up with the ‘WOW’ factor and importantly the result you truly deserve.

Thinking about selling, buying or renovating/building?
Feel free to reach out to have a confidential chat about your needs.

About the Author

Taryn Mackenzie - Meridian


Taryn has over 15 years in the property & finance sectors and leads our Buyer Advocacy & Advisory business. Prior to joining Meridian, Taryn was National Head of Client Relationships at Macquarie Bank and established Commercial Property finance as the No. 1 business lending segment at Macquarie. Taryn has built a reputation as an ‘expert’ when it comes to property market insight and how to best buy & sell real estate. Taryn rounds out her experience with the completion of +5 property projects in her own right. Her knowledge, insight & engaging persona has her highly sought after and her ‘care’ for clients is second to none.