NZ Forest Native Birds
Preventing Pain Caused by Long Periods of Computer Use, by Laraine Anne Barker
As the real estate agents might say, there are three rules for selling a house: presentation, presentation and presentation.

Try to see your home through the eyes of a stranger. To start with, ask your real estate agent’s honest views on things that need doing. Any small thing wrong that he notices (for instance, ours noticed a cracked light switch plate that we’d obviously grown so accustomed to we didn’t even realise it was cracked) will certainly be noticed by would-be buyers.

You need to make your home look as new as possible.


Preferably put your house on the market when your garden is at its best. That first impression is so important! Then:
  1. Keep the grass mown, the edges trimmed.
  2. Clean and/or weed the drive and (if possible) keep it clear of leaves
  3. Weed and tidy the garden beds
  4. Trim untidy shrubs
  5. Wash down the house itself
  6. Tidy and clean the garage and any sheds on the property
  7. Get rid of any clutter around the back door (or wherever people tend to leave their boots). Remember the first good impression!


Do a spring clean to start with. Clear out clutter from spare rooms while you’re doing this. If clearing the clutter away isn’t possible (because the room is your office, for instance) then tidy it like it’s never been tidied before! The “service” areas in your home (kitchen, bathroom, lavatory in particular) are the most important. Clean, tidy cupboards and pantry will make your kitchen look roomier to buyers. If the kitchen is starting to look a little shabby, there’s a lot you can do to make it look newer.


  1. Make the sink and taps shine. There are plenty of suitable cleaners around.
  2. Polish the counter tops with a suitable furniture polish; this will have the added advantage of making the room smell nice.
  3. If the floor is a high-gloss type of vinyl, use a cleaner on it that also polishes (something like Amway’s Mop Mate).
  4. Clean down all the cupboard doors thoroughly.
  5. Polish the refrigerator, dishwasher, etc. Car polish is good. Apart from Amway’s Silicone Glaze, I can’t recommend any brand names; I don’t know what else is available in your country.
  6. Clean your oven thoroughly and keep it that way. Stop using it if possible. We did!
  7. Polish the stove top. What you use will depend on what sort of stove top you have. A cleaner/polisher suitable for ceramic tops is also good for enamel, but not for stainless steel.
  8. Don’t forget small appliances such as your jug or kettle; a smeary stainless steel kettle doesn’t make a good impression.
  9. Some people advocate having coffee percolating on the stove top, or something baking in the oven (for their aroma). This is fine if your real estate agent doesn’t mind looking after it, because it’s generally best for the home owners to absent themselves during an “open home”. Personally, I consider the aroma of a good quality furniture polish is enough.

Bathroom and Lavatory

Make the taps, vanity unit, bath and shower all look as new as possible. If your vanity is the imitation marble type, car polish (or a special polish available from bathroom specialists) really can make it look new. Polish the lavatory seats and cistern as well.


This is often the dingiest room in a house. If yours looks badly neglected, splash out and try a fresh coat of paint. Get rid of any clutter in it, make the tub look as new as you can and give your washing machine (and that old freezer) a little attention, even though they're not being sold with the house.


Have the beds nicely made and the rooms free of clutter. Also tidy the wardrobes; buyers might want to investigate them. After all, they are buying them!

Living Room

Tidy away clutter. Make sure drapes and curtains hang properly. This goes for bedrooms and dining room as well. Get rid of any scruffy pot plants. If necessary buy new ones. Plants need to look as though they think your living room is the best place in the world for them!

Dining Room

If your table is old and shabby, cover it with your most glamorous cloth (go out and buy one if you don’t have one) and place a vase of flowers in the centre—preferably in colours that go with your dining room drapes. They don’t have to be real; “silk” flowers are fine, and at least they don’t make a mess.


If you have doors leading to outside entertaining areas (decks, courtyards/patios) these should be open before would-be buyers arrive and the areas should look as if you use them, even though you probably never have time. You’ll be surprised at how much bigger these open doors will make your rooms look! Strategically placed pot plants around your entertainment area look particularly good.

If the day is dull, turn on all the lights in the house. The last thing buyers want is a dark home.

By following the above rules, we sold our first house in a week (after our agent told us houses in that area were hard to sell) and our second one in three and a half weeks, when the market was very flat and houses in our street that had been on the market long before ours were still unsold on the day we moved out.

Good luck with your sale too!

Further articles, plus some complete short stories and excerpts from all my novels, can be accessed from the Site Map. Or choose a link from the Top of this page.

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Well, I do hope you find that at least a few of my tips can help you sell your house quicker and for the best possible price. If you have any comments or tips of your own, please email me.

Excerpts: The Obsidian Quest | Mark Willoughby and the Impostor-King of Lazaronia
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