Selling Tips

presenting properties for sale
Paul Bishop B Sc (Arch) B Arch A.A.C.A., A.R.A.I.A.

Presentation is obviously the most important thing in the sale of property. With all other things being equal, it is the difference that in most cases leads to the successful sale of one property in preference to other similar properties aimed at the same market.

In boom times this may not be quite as important as people tended to quickly buy virtually anything that was reasonably priced that came on the market. There was a fear that with the market rising so quickly they had to buy now or miss out as prices rapidly rose. During economic downturns; however, there are more properties on the market competing for a much smaller and cautious market. Although many buyers are now purely after a “bargain basement” deal, capitalizing on the misfortune of others, there are still many potential purchasers seeking new long term residences or businesses. To enable the vendor to achieve a reasonable price for his property, presentation becomes the critical factor- it is the only thing to distinguish one property from other similar properties and lead to a sale.

I would think that most people become aware that a property is for sale either by seeing a sign outside the property or by a photograph in the agents window or in a newspaper or magazine. The external appearance (especially in residential property) is therefore very important. People will either be attracted by a property or turned off by this image. If people are interested by this first impression they would then seek further assistance from the agent – with a view to finding out prices and to inspect further.

Most people, I would think tend to be swayed greatly by emotional or subjective impressions of a property. Therefore the first impression is very important.

On what is the first impression based
– style and character of the building
– landscaping
– views and environment generally, general ambience of the neighbourhood.
– charm and character of the property – would this be an enjoyable, satisfying place to live, work?

What are some of the simple things that can be done to enhance the exterior of the property and achieve the best possible first impression.

1. Cleaning- remove any garbage, rubbish, wash building, driveways
remove cobwebs under eaves etc. High pressure hose over brickwork and tiles.
2. Maintenance – mow lawns, prune trees and shrubs. weed garden
– fix up and paint front fence and gates letterbox
3. paint and/or minor external modifications – depending on budget
4. remove any dangerous or overhanging trees – let as much light into the building
as possible (but without destroying the charm and character that large trees can
provide value judgement)

Once the client is interested enough to inspect a property, you are half way there if the home is presented properly. What are the most important items?

a. cleaning
present house at its best at all times. Assume a potential client is going to visit
unannounced at any time.
– remove all rubbish and clutter (top of wardrobes, dressing tables, boxes of
books, Njunkyfl ornamentation etc). This also makes the place look much bigger.
– thoroughly clean all fixtures and fillings
– wash down walls and ceilings
– shampoo carpets
– keep house vacuumed, washing up done, beds made etc.
– outside – mow lawns, weed gardens, trim vegetation, remove old falling
dawn garden sheds and any rubbish. Pay particular attention to edges. If
budget permits install edges (hwd, concrete, tiles) to define lawn and garden
areas and weed/turnover garden or mulch.

b. make brighter / airy
– remove completely or replace heavy dark contains, venetion blinds with
ones of a light colour.
– (if budget can stretch) skylights in hallways but particularly in kitchen and
c. maintenance
– repair or replace – flyscreens with holes
– rusted gutters and downpipes
– holes in driveway
– fences falling down
– cheat – fill holes in timber or cracks in masonry

d. pets
– many people find pets objectionable inside houses and no matter how clean a house maybe they can still smell animals or even have allergies upset and be completely turned off. Keep pets outside in garage or sheds if necessary
– other people are put off by large and/or viscous dogs. Keep tied up somewhere right down backyard when inspection underway, so as not to intimidate people.

e. brightly/airy and happy
– fresh flowers, bowls of fruit, pot plants
– bright, colourful posters, mobiles in kids rooms (to appeal to other kids)
make the place look “lived” in and “loved”.

Depending on budget and/or time available to do them other things that could be done (in some order of priority) include:

f. paint
Relatively cheap to buy materials but takes time if doing the work yourselves.
– Internal colours – do not make a personal “statement” but keen fairly neutral. Colours that are either too dull or vibrant may completely turn off some buyers. Rules are “bright/airy/happy”. Best to use fairly neutral colours with slightly pastel toning (in vogue now) –
– makes room look bigger more airy and happy with natural light accentaged by light colours.
– possibly paint walls and ceilings same colour to make look bigger. The more complex and “cluttered the colour scheme the smaller the space appears.
– it has ornate old style cornices, ceilings skirtings. These can be accentuated by a subtle contrast colour, gyprock cornices, small modern trim items should not be picked out in a separate colour.
– if old building of substantial character always tend to the lighter colour of the Heritage range as these will be unlikely to offend anyone.
– colours should tone up or down cool/warm areas etc.

– colours should be appropriate to the style of the building. Obviously Heritage colours should be used on most older buildings in Berry area. Colours should be selectively used to tone up or down bricks, tile colours or in bright pr dark locations.

a. floor coverings
Replace old and worn carpets, lina etc. Patterned floors always make space look smaller so consider neutral tones and shades of lighter colours. Remember that more practical colours may not present the house as well as others of a lighter colour.

h. sky lights
Many old-style houses may have lots of character but are dark and dismal inside. Introduce natural light into work areas such as kitchens and bathrooms and hallways. Wide verandahs make home dark and musty inside – perhaps larger window/daor openings; remove enclosures off verandah.

indoor/outdoor relationship
– large sliding and french doors, windows open up house to yard and increase apparent size.
– deck or courtyard must be at same level or no more than one step below floor level of house to properly achieve desired relationship. Steps break the continuity:
– transition space desirable between inside and outside eg. pergola.
– outdoor area must be usefui as an extension of the home or particular roam for sunbaking, reading paper, dining, childrens play, BBOs etc. Best to have around back of house where private from street. If necessary at front must resolve issue of privacy and external appearance from street against desired sun and/or view.
– orientate to sunny north if possible (for year round usage) and avoid south where dark and cold and west where very hot in summer.
– landscape to maximum effect with mounding, shrubs in mulched garden etc – gives pleasant appearance; makes space more “intimate” for outdoor dining etc and may provide Moe privacy from neighbours.

renovate kitchen/bathroom
These are most expensive areas to upgrade and major renovation works
should be avoided if possible. Simple things could be:
– painting built-in items – even old woodgrain laminex doors.
– re-laminating work and woodgrain bench tops
– replacing handles with modern or more appropriate design.
– instaliating new fillings such as towel rails or major item such as stoves, WC cistern and seat.
– installing skylights
– replacing tap handles.

k. internal alterations
Old hauses in particular are not designed for todays modern lifestyle. Without destroying any charm of the original, consideration may be given to knocking down some walls to combine spaces and open up to outside.

I. external alterations and additions
Remove all additions unsympathetic with the style of the original buliding. Heritage buildings are now very much in vogue. Remove any ‘modernization” that may have previously occurred. As a general principle the front of the house should be preserved as original or restored to original while back can be extensively modified.
Agent may suggest that to optimise return the house should have
– 3rd bedroom
– 2nd bathroom•
– garage etc.

Many of these items can be very expensive and great care should be taken not to overcaptialise on the property. The Agent should be able to advise as to the optimum price range in a particular area. It is pointless spending large sums of money on a property to only find out that the maximum sum the market can bear is less than you have spent on the improvements. it is up to the vendor to ensure that this maximum budget sum is not exceeded and that there is a reasonable profit margin.

What can an Architect do for you?
advise – colours
– minor improvements – decks, courtyards, windows, doors
– landscaping concepts
– improve external appearance
– on larger jobs – internal re-organisation
– kitchen I bathroom
– floor coverings, fireplaces etc.
– likely problems with council
assist with council approval


(a) paint – colours that are too “personal” or too “dull” or too bright may offend
some potential buyers as with colours that are inappropriate to the style of the building.
(b) cladding – fake brickwork and metal tile roofs etc actually reduce value of
(c) inappropriate windows and doors – to style of building
(d) additions not in sympathy with building style
(e) enclosing verandahs
(f) inappropriate landscaping
(g) over capitalizing


Back to Top ↑