8 Mistakes Sellers Make

Mistake #1: Outside Presentation

Potential homebuyers almost always drive by and take a good look at the outside of a property for sale. A house with poor "street appeal" can get struck off a homebuyer’s shopping list before they even set foot inside the front door. A house sale can be lost through a poor presentation in a matter of seconds!

Why do they do this?

Buyers do this because they don't want to feel pressured. They simply want to make a quick, personal, no-obligation assessment of your property. They want to save themselves the time, hassle and possible embarrassment of looking through a house they don’t intend to buy because they don't like the way it looks from the roadside.

What does this mean for the seller?

First impressions count, really count! Needless to say, a home that’s visually attractive and in good condition will attract potential homebuyers who are driving down your street. Any real estate agent will tell you that strong street appeal will persuade those potential homebuyers to look inside your property.

Before you put your home on the market, try the following:

The first step in preparing the exterior of your property is to take an objective look at your house from the street. Stand back at the kerb and look at your property as objectively as you can. Look at the property in the same way a potential homebuyer might. Walk up and down and across the road, and check out your home from a few different angles.

Ask yourself: Would I buy this home?

Imagine that you are seeing your house for the very first time. What stands out? What catches your eye? Be honest with yourself, is it the beautiful landscaping? The new fence? The resprayed roof? Or is it the flaking paint on the windows and door or those holes in the driveway that you notice first? Could it be the rusty guttering or that cracked window or the untidy lawn and flowerbeds?

Ask friends and neighbours to do the same. Insist they be totally honest with you. Good or bad – you need to know the truth about how your property presents from the roadside!

Use our quick 10-point property checklist to get you started:


    • 1.
    • Are the lawn and shrubs well-maintained around the house?

    • 2.
    • Does the garden or pathway need weeding?

    • 3.
    • Are hoses, bins, garden tools, bikes and the like properly stored out of sight?

    • 4.
    • Does the driveway need resurfacing or a brush down?

    • 5.
    • Are there cracks in the foundation or walkways?

    • 6.
    • Are the gutters, chimney and exterior walls in good condition?

    • 7.
    • Do the windows, shutters or doors need painting?

    • 8.
    • Does the fence or letterbox need repairing or painting?

    • 9.
    • Do the windows need cleaning, inside or out?

    • 10.
    • Is the garage door closed?

Do whatever is necessary to make your property stand out from the local competition

Remember, first impressions count and this first street view is how your property will introduce itself to a potential homebuyer. Street appeal is how you will attract a drive-by homebuyer and potentially sell your home more quickly (and possibly for a higher price than you expected). If the street appeal isn’t there, you could lose the homebuyer without them even getting out of the car. They will simply move on to the next available property, no matter how beautiful the interior of your house may be!

Make certain that your house is fresher, cleaner and better maintained than the other houses for sale in the area. Brickwork, driveways, decking, windows and gardens should all be cleaned up and freshened. Don't go overboard on how much money you spend on the outside – usually, it’s elbow grease that gets the best and most cost-effective results.

This might all sound obvious, but it’s a lesson that many homeowners, unfortunately, learn the hard way. They either struggle to sell their property, or they fail to achieve the best price the property has the potential to attract.

Mistake #2:  "Over the top" spending for Your Area 

A common mistake homeowners make is improving their home too much for the neighbourhood, turning the DIY or renovation into a costly affair that they can’t recoup from current market prices being achieved in the suburb. This is known as failing to capitalize on return.

How much is too much?

In a normal, average neighbourhood, adding a $30,000 swimming pool might only really gain you a $10,000 to $15,000 return on the sale price. In this instance, simply advertising the fact of having the land space for the buyer to put in a pool (or not) is more advantageous and rewarding in the marketing and final sale price of your home. In a more affluent suburb, it would be hard to over-improve a property, as buyers are looking for opulence and features. Remember the common denominator is suburb location. Even if you’re selling in 12 to 18 months’ time you need to start thinking about how much DIY or renovation is sensible and get sound advice for future planning. This will give you the time to implement these strategies properly and spend money wisely.

Mistake #3:  Inside Presentation 

Now that you have wooed potential buyers into your home, the next critical factor is inside presentation.

Keep it consistent

A common mistake is an inconsistency. Why renovate a kitchen or bathroom with a top quality fit-out and neutral decor – and leave another room with cheap 1970s vinyl floors or bright blue shagpile carpet? Leaving certain areas in an old, dated, tired, and untouched condition can seriously detract from even the most beautiful kitchen or bathroom renovations.

Consistency is everything: in floor coverings, colour schemes, window treatments, cabinetry and light fittings. The consistency of interior decor will help you sell your home more quickly and often for a higher price than you expected. The less people can ‘pick on’ in the house, the more the house stands out in their minds as a desirable home for them to buy.

House flow and clutter

Don't you just love going through show homes? Their presentation makes them feel so spacious, liveable and clean. They are usually minimalistic, with no clutter, and just the right amount of furniture and décor. You find you move through the home with ease because it has flow.

By contrast, we’ve all seen people trying to sell homes with dining tables that sit right in the way of the main door going out to the patio or alfresco; a lounge chair sitting across the entrance to the media room; a chest of drawers right at the opening of a bedroom – all blocking the "flow" in the house. Buyers tend to feel obstructed, they feel like they want to move items, or move around objects; there is no natural flow (or Feng Shui, if you prefer).

Do this now: go out and get yourself a large number of boxes and pack up your clutter! Those extra little coffee tables, the multitude of lovely family photos, all those little knick-knacks in the kitchen and the extra wardrobes or chests of drawers in bedrooms; they all have to go. You don’t have to throw them away, but you do need to move them out of your home when it is for sale. Make your home more spacious. Get as much natural light and fresh air into the home as possible to enhance the feeling of space.

And if you’re renovating, don't overstuff the room. If it's a small space, don't install oversized vanities or cupboards; use slender fittings with clean lines. Don't get too trendy either, as what's in today could be out tomorrow.