Pick your agent
Ask three agents from your area to offer their strategy on how they would sell your house. Do they suggest an auction or private treaty sale? Why? And ask them to provide evidence (recent sales of similar houses in surrounding streets) for the price they suggest it will sell for. You want an experienced agent who knows your market and can hook the right buyer. One way to get to know agents is to attend open houses as a would-be buyer. You can assess the agents' selling styles, marketing materials and get a feel for how good they are at returning phone calls, a critical factor in a selling campaign.
Be realistic with price
Don't assume you can pay for your renovations or achieve what you may have achieved at the market's peak in 2007 - in some areas, prices are still lower than they were at that time, despite recent rises. For an independent viewpoint, vendors can also check sales in their local area by paying for a report from the Fairfax-owned Australian Property Monitors.
Early spring clean
Houses should be thoroughly cleaned and de-cluttered. Anything that detracts from a potential sale needs to be thrown out, put in storage or sold at the local auction rooms, market, garage sale or on eBay. Many houses are over-furnished. The trick is to make the property look comfortable without having too many personal things. You could even put your own furniture in storage and hire designer gear. Seek your agent's advice on whether a stylist is needed.
Create street appeal
It's important to have the property looking smart from the outside because that's what many buyers fall in love with. Consider a house wash with a high-pressure hose. The service costs about $500 and gets rid of cobwebs and dust and can freshen pavers.
Bring in the repairmen
You'll want to eliminate any evidence of damp and moisture, doors and windows that stick and cracked glass. Spending that little bit of extra money by getting those things right enhances the emotional appeal. While it's hard to put a figure on exactly how much more a property can achieve if it is well presented, buyers could expect an extra 5 per cent or 10 per cent. Check the outside lights are working, because you'll want to keep them turned on at night for house-hunters driving by. Carpets should be steam-cleaned a few days before your first viewing to allow time for any cleaning smells to evaporate. Window cleaning can also help create a lasting impression.
When it comes to marketing, photographs can be the most important element. Many buyers will judge your property within five to 10 seconds of looking at the photos and if they're not excited ... then they simply won't read on and they'll go on to the next house.
Pet smells can be a major turn-off for buyers. Not everyone is a dog or a cat person. During the sales campaign, you might want to pay for your four-legged friend to have a holiday at the kennels. You might get the money back with a higher sale price. If they've been living indoors, getting rid of their lingering scent will generally mean a top-to-bottom polish, plus professionally cleaning any carpets and soft furnishings.
Entice the buyers
When you find a buyer who is offering the right price, you'll want to be able to progress the sale as quickly as possible. Some buyers may want shorter or longer settlements and it's worth thinking in advance about whether you would be prepared to agree to that and letting your agent know. This can save time and can sometimes help the agent seal a deal quickly.
Put some fresh flowers around the house, fresh fruit in the fruit bowl and have fresh towels, soaps on display. Ensure all areas have been dusted, vacuumed and mopped. Open some windows and curtains to allow for natural sun light and a nice breeze, in the warmer months. Alternatively in the cooler months a moderate amount of heat adds a feeling of cosiness.