Money Property ‘Just mow the lawn’: How to keep the critical masses onside at open for inspections
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‘Just mow the lawn’: How to keep the critical masses onside at open for inspections

cupboard storage
Expect each and every cupboard to be opened when prospective buyers are inspecting your place. Photo: Getty Images
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Blame television home renovation shows for turning everyone into fussy perfectionists, but home agents and their vendors are having to leap over higher and higher bars to win approval at open for inspections.

West Australian agent Mitch Thorson says he’s noticed that prospective buyers are more opinionated than they used to be when he asks them after the inspection, “So, what did you think of the house?”

The Margaret River agent, who works with Perth’s Mack Hall Real Estate, thinks buyers are more at ease with giving negative feedback because the full and frank exchanges that provide the drama on house shows have become the norm in real life.

“But when you’re an agent you want to hear it straight – this is a positive thing,’’ he says.

So if you are selling your house and don’t want to be voted out of a house sale, it’s worth spending a few minutes on the basics before letting in the opinionated hordes who will not only judge your house but might also judge your housekeeping.

Thorson says if there’s a door or a cupboard in the house, then expect each and everyone of them to be opened. It’s not that buyers are interested in your belongings, they just want to know how much storage space there is.

But first impressions count, and nothing makes a bad impression like junk spilling out of an opened cabinet. The kitchen tends to be the first port of call for many buyers, followed by the bathroom and then the master bedroom, so pay attention to those rooms first.

“If those rooms look good, then people are more forgiving of the rest of the house,” says Thorson, who tells all vendors to declutter as much as is practical.

“Keep the kettle, toaster and coffee maker on the bench, but put away the other stuff,’’ he advises.

“Clearing the kitchen benches will make the room look bigger,” agrees Eliza Billich, who runs the short-term home agency Stay With Style in Melbourne and who inspects every home and apartment she rents to visitors and corporate clients.

“The bathroom and kitchen need to be spotless. And clean under the sink because people will look at it,’’ she says.

Both agents says that common sense, rather than hiring an expensive stylist, can help your house win you inspection approval.

Clearing all grime and mould in the wet areas, emptying the kitchen tidy, putting the toilet seat down, dealing with unpleasant smells, making the bed, replacing old light bulbs, removing lint from extractor fans and not leaving dirty washing in the laundry are just some of their pointers.

“And, if there’s a nice view, clean the windows,’’ says Billich.

While some of these might seem obvious, it’s easy to be oblivious when it’s your own home.

“I say make it neat and tidy,’’ says Thurson. “But people have different definitions of neat and tidy.”

He says it’s easy to compare your house to the super-styled interiors on TV and in magazines, but you don’t need to get too carried away.

“There’s a lot of people who are just normal,’’ he says plainly. “They don’t go to the massive extent of buffing up the interior.’’

Thurson advises that one of the easiest things a vendor can do to create a welcoming impression is a very basic one. “Just mow the front lawn.’’