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Preparing your home for sale

Is your home buyer friendly? When it comes to selling your house, first impressions count. A well-polished house appeals more to buyers than a down-and-out one. Which means it’s important that your home looks its best while it’s on the market – and that may mean a spruce-up is on the cards. But there’s a big difference between making smart, cost-effective changes to maximise interior and exterior appeal, and carrying out costly renovations.

What, then, are the best options for preparing a house for sale?

“In the first instance I would go through the property and make a list of the things you think need doing to prepare for sale,” says real estate agent Robyn Ellson of Custom Residential in Auckland. “There are some common small tweaks you can make to improve the value of your home. For example, painting the interior and exterior of the home. This quick freshen-up will really pay dividends.”

Tidy the exterior before selling

Get the stained timber look with Resene Waterborne Woodsman tinted to Resene Treehouse.

Resene testpot“It might seem boring but we really recommend working with neutral colours. This doesn’t mean just grabbing the first can of white paint you can find. Get a range of Resene testpots – it’s really amazing how many shades of white there are. Test these shades out on your own walls and get an idea of how the colours work with the amount of light and space in your property. This is equally important on the exterior of your home. What might look like a hint of grey in the paint shop can look positively lilac in the cold light of day.”

Resene colour consultant Sarah Gregory suggests using colours that work with a potential buyer’s belongings.

Sarah also suggests removing any over-the-top patterned wallpaper.

“Wallpaper is generally OK in the bedroom, but it puts people off if they walk into the lounge and one wall has a patterned wallpaper. That’s only because it’s just so personal. If the wallpaper’s in a living room and if it’s really bold, I’d advise painting over it’.”

Says Sarah, “when buyers are walking around houses looking, you don’t want your house to be the one where they go, ‘Oh yeah, that was the house with the wallpaper we hated’.”

“Make sure all your woodwork is nicely painted and not chipped,” recommends Sarah, “because people notice doors and kitchen cupboards, that sort of thing.”

Keep your kitchen surfaces clear of clutter too – if you need to, place extra items in storage before showing your home.

Robyn agrees that a tidy kitchen is a drawcard, but warns when touching up the kitchen not to go overboard.

“Often the kitchen is the area of the home that everyone wants to remodel. In terms of return on investment and return on time and hard work, I would recommend that you don’t go overboard. Replacing or repainting any wonky or tired cupboard doors – yes. Replacing entire kitchen with modern $20,000 plus kitchen – not always money well spent.”

A clean oven and kitchen appliances, as well as surfaces, will do wonders though, as will bright lights and white walls, which can make a room appear bigger. Replace lights with higher wattage bulbs, and make sure all light bulbs, including those on your rangehood, are working.

Bathrooms should be dazzling clean too and free of mould. Treat moss and mould with Resene Moss & Mould Killer to eradicate any nasties. Repainting will brighten walls and cabinetry. Replace mouldy curtains, in the bathroom and elsewhere, and eliminate any odours. Check extractor fans are in good working order and that fixtures and fittings are not broken. Or consider replacing them. Modern accessories will lift a bathroom tremendously.

An easy care garden

Get the look with Resene Half Arrowtown and Resene Triple Arrowtown.

Tidying up the exterior of your home is also essential for maximising your property’s potential, especially if flaky paint and moss and mould are present. Wash down decks, paths and walls, using Resene Paint Prep and Housewash on painted areas. Treat moss and mould with Resene Moss & Mould Killer. Repaint areas that need it. Rejuvenate faded concrete pavers with Resene Concrete Stain to restore their colour.

“Even though it’s going to cost you a bit,” says Sarah, “you’ll actually gain money in the end on the sale. People won’t be thinking, ‘Oh, I’ve got to repaint that before it looks good’.”

Grey colours are popular at the moment, says Sarah, including Resene Eighth Friar Grey and Resene Napa. “And there are some greens creeping into exteriors, too. If it’s a weatherboard house, quite a lot of the pastel greens are coming in. But to be on the safe side, I’d suggest a neutral green, like Resene Half Lemon Grass. Resene Bison Hide is always a favourite for an exterior.”

The front door would benefit from a makeover as well. With a neutral scheme, Sarah suggests painting your front door with high gloss paint, in either red, such as Resene Pohutukawa, or black, to make a feature. Depending where the front door is in relation to the garage door, it can be a good idea to paint the front door the same colour as your garage to provide continuity.

Resene Eighth Friar Grey
Resene Eighth Friar Grey
Resene Napa
Resene Napa
Resene Half Lemon Grass
Resene Half Lemon Grass
Resene Bison Hide
Resene Bison Hide
Resene Pohutukawa
Resene Pohutukawa


Get the look with Resene Secrets, Resene Alabaster and Resene Avalanche.

Look at garden and architectural features too. Fences should be straightened and repainted if necessary, and decks re-stained or oiled. Leaking guttering and broken window panes need to be repaired. Sweep paths as well as the front street gutter, and remove weeds. Store garden tools and hoses out of site.

Wash all windows – and don’t forget the letterbox.

“That’s my pet hate,” says Sarah, “when you see a really lovely house and the letterbox is falling off.”

Planting and outdoor entertainment areas should also be considered, says Robyn. “Once you have mowed the lawns and done an initial tidy up, look at what you can do to make the property have an appealing outdoor space. Minimal, low-maintenance planting is a great idea. People like to see a defined outdoor entertainment area and this can be achieved in a variety of ways. Investigate the cost of putting gravel down to create a small courtyard or even the addition of a small deck. But remember, any deck more than one metre above the ground will require council consent, so factor that into your plans.

easy care gardens

Get the outdoor room look with Resene Cobblestone.

Low maintenance green ferns are a hardy solution to border the fence line of your property.”

Essentially, minor improvements can greatly increase the value of your home, but if you’re in any doubt as to what should be done, ask your real estate agent for advice. “Agents deal with buyer objections day-in day-out,” says Robyn, “so they’ll be able to see the big buyer red flags that may stick out on your own property.”

Good luck with the house sale!


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Colours shown on this website are a representation only. Please refer to the actual paint or product sample. Resene colour charts, testpots and samples are available for ordering online.   See measurements/conversions for more details on how electronic colour values are achieved.