Helping vendors prepare their property for sale

Getting the presentation of a listing right could be the difference between a mediocre final sales price and a hugely successful sales campaign, says Justine Stedman.

There are many factors that create a well-styled property. Of course, the furniture should look beautiful and instantly lift the visual appeal, but there are other psychological factors at play. A well-styled property is more than just placing furniture in situ; it’s about creating an emotional response from the buyer by dressing the property in a warm, welcoming and functional way.

Styling should showcase the property’s best features – if you turn dead space into a study nook, or create a secondary living space, that’s all added value in the eyes of a potential buyer. Most buyers can’t visualise how a place can look or feel when it is presented empty, so physically putting the biggest possible bed in the bedroom convinces buyers that you can fit that double or queen bed. If it is left to the buyer’s imagination to scale up the space, many won’t be able to and may walk away assuming the property is too small for their needs.

Styling for a demographic is also important. For example, appropriate furniture and accent colours can be used to enhance the property’s appeal to a certain buyer. Empty nesters may prefer a home presented in a more neutral palette, whereas a young executive buyer may prefer a more designer edge with bolder accent colours. If the property is close to natural beauty, the styling should reflect this nature theme and reinforce the potential lifestyle benefits to the buyer.

When an agent is considering styling, there can be several factors to consider. The client’s budget is a key concern. Do the owners currently furnish the property, or is it tenanted? A property can be well presented in either scenario. Presentation and marketing timing should also be discussed upfront. Most trades will require a few weeks to quote and then carry out any works required, and the same is true if you advise your homeowner to engage a property stylist.

If the property is being painted or carpeted, it is also worth asking for colour advice from the property stylist to ensure a cohesive end result. As trained stylists who see many properties each year, we are on top of the latest trends – which may help a property appeal to potential buyers.

We have styled thousands of properties around Sydney, and each home we style may be located in a different suburb, have vendors with different personal circumstances or need to appeal to buyers of certain demographics. However, there are some universal guidelines that we advise agents to embrace.

The tips below apply to all scenarios and can help your vendor get the best results via proper home presentation. From a seasoned property stylist perspective, here are the most important things we recommend agents suggest that vendors focus on when presenting a property for sale:

  • Decluttering – For best results, remove excess furniture and decorative items. Too many items such as personal photo frames and figurines can make a property feel small and cramped, and will distract buyers from focusing on the property itself.
  • A fresh coat of neutral paint – It is important to keep a neutral colour palette for interiors in order to appeal to the majority of the market. You can introduce accent colours through cushions, accessories, artwork and lighting to achieve a visually dynamic space.
  • Update old floor coverings – This can add a big upside to your final result on auction day. Again, keep within a neutral colour palette. A lightly textured carpet in charcoal or fawn is a great option. For floorboards, medium to dark tones work well paired with grey or stone tiles. This will help to create a blank canvas for any potential buyer who can add his or her own touch.
  • Concealing day-to-day items – Laundry, piles of paperwork, dishes, keys and garbage should all be concealed in a cupboard or removed from the property entirely. Try to keep all surfaces clear of day-to-day items for your open for inspections.
  • Keeping it clean – It is imperative that a property is immaculately clean on open days. It may helpful to employ a professional cleaner who will also provide a fresh eye for the property and pick up on things that the resident may not have noticed.
  • Preparing in advance – When possible, set up the property early by opening all curtains and blinds, turning on heating or air conditioning, opening balcony doors and windows and turning on lights and lamps. This will allow the property to feel light and airy by the time the buyers arrive.
  • Add street appeal – Ensure the garden is well maintained and consider painting the facade of your property if it needs it. Add a few low maintenance feature plants such as Yuccas and fill any empty garden beds with wood chips.
  • Enlist a professional property stylist – Styling your property for sale creates an ‘aspirational’ living scenario ensuring potential buyers connect emotionally with your property. By dressing the property in a warm, welcoming and functional way you can tailor the appeal to your buyer demographic.
  • Don’t forget the finishing touches! – Make buyers feel welcome by adding a bunch of fresh flowers and burning a scented candle or two.

justine-stedmanAbout the author

Director and Principal Stylist at Vault Interiors, Justine Stedman has over 10 years’ experience in custom interior design, and property and photography styling. Justine holds a Bachelor of Interior Design and is passionate about creating higher value spaces for her clients. For more information visit vaultinteriors.com.au.

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