10 Common Home Presentation Mistakes

By Samantha Thorne

Your home is likely to be your biggest asset, so it pays to maximise its value. The way you showcase it can make a big difference in how many viewers you attract and the price you finally get.

The secret to good presentation includes removing anything that could create doubts in potential buyers’ minds, and crafting a setting that has wide appeal and helps viewers envision themselves living in your home happily.

And with many other homes vying for their attention, yours needs to stand out from the crowd. Here are some common mistakes to avoid to avoid:

Mistake #1: Poor street appeal

First impressions do count. How your home looks from the outside could make the difference as to whether potential buyers come in to look or drive off. So how can you boost your home's street appeal? 

The first things a buyer will see are your fence, post box and street number, so if these are not in good condition then fix or replace them.

Get out your gardening gloves and lawnmower and start weeding, pruning and cutting. The more foliage you clear away, the bigger your garden will look. Also remove any other outdoor clutter such as garden equipment and children’s toys.

Wash the dirt off your walls, garage door, walkways and driveway to make your home look attractive, and even consider investing in a fresh coat of paint. Think about planting some colourful flowers and greening up your grass with fertiliser and water.

Your front door is also likely to be one of the first things buyers notice, so think about giving it a makeover. Does it need a repaint, and can it be enhanced by a bold new door knocker or door handle? Also replace that worn-out welcome mat and ensure your entrance is swept and clean before showings.

Mistake #2: Looking poorly maintained

If the house doesn’t look well-maintained, buyers will worry that they need to spend time or money on it. Get busy with the necessary repairs and maintenance to fix those hanging gutters, missing bricks or roof tiles, rotten window frames, holes in the walls, rusted items, cracks or peeling paint. Fix water drainage, and sort out any dampness or damp smells.

If buyers see a sign of neglect, they will wonder what else hasn’t been maintained. You want to send the message that your property is ready to move into without much hassle, but remember that no DIY work is better than bad quality DIY work. You also don’t want “over-renovate” or spend more money to improve your property than you can recoup in the sales price.

Mistake #3: Ignoring the clutter

Less is more when selling a home, so declutter each room in your home. Not only can this help your property look cleaner and tidier, but removing clutter can make rooms appear bigger and more spacious.

It’s easy to collect too much stuff over time, so get rid of anything you don’t need and that makes a room look too busy. Remove all your knick-knacks, unwanted chairs, oversized vanities, unused coffee tables, ornaments and cupboard.

You don’t necessarily have to throw them away, but it’s better to get pack them up and store them out of your home when you are presenting it for sale.

However, it's important that you don’t declutter to the point where your home looks cold and sterile. It should include a bit of tasteful warmth, which can be added through extra pillow cases and a few tasteful decorative pieces that help create a homey look.

Mistake #4: Not cleaning up

You want to show off your house to its best advantage, and to let prospective buyers know that it has been well looked after. That’s why your house needs to be spotless, so start dusting and cleaning. Get your carpets cleaned and windows washed, and pay special attention to your kitchen and bathrooms as these need to sparkle.

Don’t forget to clean inside ovens, cupboards and under beds in case potential buyers want to snoop on open inspection days.

Before an inspection, ensure all beds are made up, that there are no clothes lying about, and that your home is properly aired and there are no smells. Also, clear out the mailbox and empty all rubbish bins.

And once your house has been cleaned, keep it tidy all the time in case your agent needs to show it at short notice.

Mistake #5: Keeping it personal

You are selling a dream of how potential buyers can live in your home, so they really don’t want to know how you lived in it. The less of you there is in the home, the more buyers can see themselves in the home. 

De-personalise your home to ensure it appeals to the largest possible audience. Not everyone will have the same taste as you. Get rid of personal photographs, certificates and personal collections. Anything controversial should also go, such as sensual art, religious objects and items suggesting support for a certain sport teams, political party or that reflects your sense of humour.

The same applies to any renovation or styling decisions. You want to appeal the widest number of people, so it's recommended that you opt for neutral colours and the most popular choice of product. 

Mistake #6: Not setting the scene

Buyers often try to envision what their lives would be like in a house, so try to give their imaginations something to work with by showcasing a lifestyle they can aspire to. Set the scene. Create appealing settings in attractive parts of your home - for example, by placing comfortable furniture on a balcony with a good view of around the pool. Open up the space in entertaining areas so buyers can envisage themselves having a big party or lots of people over.

Borrow or rent some quality furniture to create an overall air of luxury and opulence. Enhance this with plush towels in the bathroom, and add personal touches like fresh flowers to help your home feel less staged or artificial.

Mistake #7: Not letting in the light

You don’t want to give the false impression of a dark room. Good lighting can create a sense of space and boost the overall impression of your home; make sure your windows are clean, open up all curtains and blinds, and clear away outside foliage that blocks any light coming in.

Ensure all your lights work, and consider leaving them on when your house is open for inspection and whether some additional lighting would boost the look and feel of your home.

Mistake #8 A poor bathroom or kitchen

The rooms buyers most closely inspect are the kitchen and bathrooms. These need to be cleared of clutter and spotless, for example cupboards need to be repacked in case buyers open them. And you don’t want your house to look like it doesn’t have enough storage space, so ensure these are not full to the brim.

If your kitchen is looking worn and dated, you may be able to salvage some of its basic structure and improve the rest by adding new handles to cupboard doors and replacing some cabinet hardware. New lighting fixtures and a fresh coat of paint may also help.

Also consider updating the hardware on your cabinets, installing new light fittings and updating towel rails to lift your bathroom’s tone. This will give it new “feel” without you having to spend a fortune on big renovations.

Transform it by adding beautiful, soft, luxurious towels and, to create a spa-like experience, perhaps add some fragrant soaps, bath oils, natural loofahs and candles.

Mistake #9 Having no furniture at all

If you or your tenants have already moved out, it may be an idea to rent or borrow furniture or get in a stylist to give it a homely look. While it may give initially give the impression of more space, some potential buyers may worry about how their furniture will fit in.

Mistake #10: Poor timing

Arrange inspections at times which present your property in the best possible way – for example, when the natural lighting is at its best. If you live on a busy road or close to a popular venue, ensure your showing times coincide with quieter times when potential buyers can get parking close to your house.

Saturday late morning and afternoon are reportedly good times because, being the weekend, many potential buyers are unlikely to be working. Also arrange a second open for inspection during the week for potential buyers who would like to see the property again when it is not as busy.


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