Budget hacks to get your home ready for sale

blue ford vehicle parked in driveway of blue house

Natasha Perera

Posted October 13, 2020

Getting your home ready for sale doesn’t have to cost the earth, but it could help you turn a tidy profit.

We’re not talking a major renovation overhaul, but a few simple updates could be just what your home needs to attract potential buyers. According to Leigh Hall, director of First National Real Estate & Partners Dandenong, a coat of paint, new blinds and carpet – even a new benchtop in an old kitchen – can make a world of difference. Major renovations aren't always required, but a few simple updates could be just what your home needs to attract potential buyers.

“It’s important to look at things that will improve your home’s value in the current marketplace without overcapitalising,” Leigh says. “I have seen people spend as little as $10,000 and it has made a difference of $80,000 to $100,000 to the end sale price.”

Here, Cherie Barber, founder of Renovating for Profit, shares some budget-friendly pointers to get you started.  

How to get your house ready for sale

Trick up tiles

Dated tiles can drag down the look of a room but retiling is not as easy as it sounds, and neither is it a cheap fix. When you remove tiles from a wet area, such as a bathroom, the waterproofing membrane underneath may need to be redone.  

If the tiles are in good nick, Cherie suggests refreshing the surface with a specialty tile paint. This is only suitable for wall tiles, not floor tiles. 

“For a couple of hundred dollars you can transform the look of your bathroom or kitchen if you’re prepared to roll up your sleeves for a couple of days’ hard yakka.” 

However, she cautions against cutting corners with surface prep. “Some people put tile paint straight on to the surface without applying the primer first,” she says. “The primer is what helps the tile paint actually stick to the surface.” 

Alternatively, Cherie says you can get the tiles professionally resprayed for a longer-lasting finish or use a tile grout pen to tidy up the grout lines. 

More: How to plan a bathroom renovation.

Update the shower screen

Old coloured or frosted glass in a shower screen is best replaced. Cherie suggests going with a new modern frame and clear glass panels. 

“It will make your bathroom look a lot bigger and instantly modernise the space,” she adds. 

And while you’re at it, rip out those small mirrors and replace them with one large mirror. This will reflect more natural light and help make the space feel open and airy. 

Touch up the paint

fresh coat of paint will refresh rooms in a heartbeat for very little cost and effort, and the same goes for the exterior of the home, including the fences. If your boundary fences are not all made from the same material Cherie suggests spray-painting them the same colour to create a more cohesive feel. 

“It tricks the eye a bit by making the fact they are mismatched less obvious,” she says. 

To save money, do-it-yourselfers can paint the lower sections of their home’s facade, but it is a good idea to hire a professional painter to do high spots such as the gutters and eaves to minimise the risk of accidents. 

“First impressions are critical when selling your property, so faded or chipped paint on exterior surfaces, including the front door, won’t do you any favours,” Cherie says.

More: How to choose a tradie.


two story house with white paint and wooden doors

Give existing grassed areas a good dose of lawn food. This way the lawn looks top-rate for your real-estate photos and open for inspections. 

Replace old fittings and fixtures

Switch up dated taps, as well as door and cabinetry handles. You’ll be surprised what a big impact these tiny changes will have. 

“Choose handles and tapware that are timeless and won’t show up fingerprints,” Cherie says. “I’d go with satin chrome for a look that will stand the test of time.” 

Be sure not to look at a room in isolation, either. She recommends always selecting fittings and finishes that are in keeping with the home’s architectural style and allow different spaces to feel visually connected. 

“The house needs to have one personality, not multiple personalities, or it will start to look confusing, losing design cohesion,” Cherie says. 

Tidy up the garden

Pruning and general garden maintenance are essential. It’s important to have things looking neat, not wild and overgrown. Where possible, Cherie recommends using established plants because their fullness and maturity help round out the exterior look of the home. 

If your budget is tight, look at bringing in mature plants to highlight key areas of focus. She also suggests topping garden beds with mulch or wood chips to make them look more presentable for very little cost. 

When it comes to the lawn, laying new turf can be quite fiddly and expensive.  

Cherie says a cheaper option is to treat existing grassed areas with a good dose of lawn food and get the sprinklers on to them well in advance of selling. This way the lawn looks top-rate for your real-estate photos and when the house is open for inspection. 

“If you want to replace your lawns, do this at least two months prior to selling to give the turf sufficient time to grow in before it can be mowed.” 

Uplift the driveway

A good clean with a high-pressure water gun is the way to go to instantly rejuvenate concrete and paved driveways, porches and verandas. Cherie recommends people hire or buy a gurney to help strip out built-up dirt, grime, black spots and dust. 

“It’s just amazing how fresh a home can look after giving all your external surfaces a wash. Think of it like giving your home a bath.” 

Paving paint is another option, but Cherie points out it will require ongoing maintenance, which may put some buyers off. 

Re-stain the deck

It’s unwise to be sanding or slapping paint on a deck that is too far gone. You should first assess if the timber is in good condition and if it is, sand it back and then stain or paint the surface in an appropriate colour. 

“It’s important your deck feels connected to the home, so choose a colour that ties in with the exterior palette of the house,” Cherie says.


Selling your home? RACV can help you navigate the journey. 
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