The ultimate guide to "styling to sell" off-market

January 22, 2023

“You never get a second chance to make a great first impression.” Will Rogers

It has been estimated that styling a property adds between 5 and 10% to its value. The downside is that the process can be expensive and stressful with no real guarantee of a return on investment.

Furthermore, one of the main reasons our members choose to sell off-market is to save money, and saving on marketing costs is one way to do that. They also prefer the greater privacy afforded by private inspections as opposed to those weekly, public open-for-inspections where they must transfer their home into the front cover of House & Garden magazine. For young, time-poor families in particular, twice-weekly open-for-inspections are impractical and increase their stress levels.

That's not to say that presentation isn't important. Of the many great ways there are to improve your chances of selling...

You can’t put a price on first impressions

Presentation is, perhaps, the most important component of selling real estate because your goal is to get your buyers to connect emotionally with your property at the inspection. Though the process of "styling to sell" is a little simpler for those sellers who choose to sell solely off-market, it is just as crucial that the property stands out from the competition.  

"Styling to sell" off-market is a more refined process but just as important 

Many of our sellers continue to live in the property, using their existing furniture and décor, but so that inspections are memorable to their buyers for the right reasons, they must adhere to the following 9 rules of presentation.

They must:

  1. Present the optimal use of their floor plan. For example, now that more people are working from home, one non-negotiable in the current market is a home office area. If you don’t have a designated workspace, think about creating one in a spare bedroom, in a nook or the corner of your living area.
  2. Declutter. It goes without saying that for the best first impression, your potential buyer needs to see beyond your “stuff”, especially personal effects like family photos which distract them from visualising their family living in the property. Keep the amount of furniture in each room to a minimum to allow your sellers the best view of the space. If required, invest in cheap storage solutions rather than hiding your stuff in cupboards, because buyers will poke around.
  3. Deep clean. Most sellers can look beyond a few toys scattered around the floor, but a dirty property will leave a lasting impression, and not a good one. Follow these tips and get your carpets professionally cleaned (or even replaced) if they need it, and wash down skirting boards, walls, windows and light fittings. Your kitchen and bathrooms should be spotless with no sign of mould or cracked grout.
  4. Fix any obvious issues such as broken light globes, loose wiring, or faulty blinds.
  5. Make the kitchen the jewel of the crown. The kitchen is the hub of the home and it often seals the deal because of its multi-functionalism for modern families. It is also costly to replace. If your kitchen needs a makeover, there are several affordable ways to do it. Replacing a heavily stained or dated benchtop or old cabinet handles with new ones is probably worth the investment, but above all, make sure everything works from your undercabinet lighting to your appliances. Present the space as minimally as possible, ideally with only a bowl of fruit or a vase of flowers for a pop of colour.
  6. Give the exterior a facelift. If you have managed to get your buyers to your front door, trust us, they are genuine. Don't lose a sale by letting them down at the final hurdle. If necessary, give your paintwork a touch-up, clean out the gutters, remove any spider webs and if you have a front deck, think about how to make it more welcoming with plants or a couple of outdoor armchairs. Power wash the paths and terraces and if you live in a unit, make sure the entry is tidy and add a couple of potted plants to add some colour and breathe life into the space. 
  7. Tidy the front and backyard. Prune bushes, cut back trees to allow every ray of natural light through to your property, mulch the borders and make sure your lawns are as smooth as a Wimbledon tennis court. If your fencing needs some repairs or a lick of paint, do them.
  8. Repaint any walls that need refreshing or any dark or coloured walls that will maximise light and space in a lighter, neutral tone.
  9. Employ real estate tricks of the trade that work. These include burning scented candles or placing fresh flowers around the space. Consider playing some relaxing background music to relax your buyers. Maximize the appeal of the best parts of your property - for example, you could create a resort vibe around the pool. Downplay the negatives, by hanging sheer curtains over a window with an undesirable view, placing a tablecloth over an ugly table or new cushions on dated sofas.
The ultimate guide to "styling to sell" off-market
Presentation is, perhaps, the most important component of selling real estate because your goal is to get your buyers to connect emotionally with your property at the inspection.

Sellers pay dearly for a casual approach to presentation

It's not rocket science, but you would be surprised by the number of sellers who take a casual approach to presentation and end up paying for their lack of preparation - usually, in terms of the length of time their property sits on the market. Most buyers want to move into a new property and live in it comfortably until they are ready to make changes. Although we don’t condone misrepresenting your property when you style it, there are proven tricks of the trade that will make it more appealing to your buyers, so use whatever you have to make your property stand out. 

“If a buyer has a positive feeling about your home, oftentimes this makes them more willing to overlook any flaws.” OpenAgent

Sign up for our Seller Assist service and our team will advise you about the key rules of presentation that you should focus on when you list your property either privately or via an agent with us. Alternatively, they will put you in touch with a stylist or trades who can help you with the preparation process.

You get one shot at selling, so make it count.


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