Is Your Open Home Viewing Turning Buyers Away?

As a pre-sale property stylist (or home stager), one of the first things I do when viewing a clients home for the first time is put on my "buyers eyes" and imaging what I would expect from a house at this price point, and what I am actually seeing. Sadly though when going to open homes (yes, in my spare time I do this #nerd), while the property may look good and is styled well in the photos, it's a pale comparison when viewed up close.

So I thought I would write this post to help explain what I look for when doing an initial consultation. These are all things that a buyer might see and think "gee, I've got to fix that up before I move in here" and can decrease the perceived value of your home. When a potential buyer feels the home has been looked after and they do not feel the need to 'fix' anything, then they also begin to feel like it is worth the dollars you are asking.

But first...did you know…Buyers have decided within the first two minutes of stepping onto your property if your home is for them:

Just like a job interview, first impressions really shape how someone feels about a home and can make or break wether someone puts an offer on the home (let alone how much they feel its worth!). According to Naomi Findlay, founder of the International Institute of Home Staging and Silk Home, it's within the first two minutes of looking at a home, buyers have already decided wether it's for them...or not.

Imagine this image. You've just opened your home to buyers for the first time. You've pre-packed and decluttered, and it looked a million dollars in the photos. John and Sue have come to have a look. As they pull up, Sue does a double-take because she can't find the house number. They get out of the car and Sue has opened her door onto a mass of weeds instead of lush grass, while John scouts perimeter and spots the broken fence palings. As they both walk up to your house, thoughts turn to questioning if this home is right for them (and confused because it looked so good in the pictures). The front entrance looks like the picture, but there is a bit of mould on the base of those brick their gaze moves up the brick pillars, it stops at the gutter...and they see a little tree growing out of it. Swallowing their anxiety that this home might be another disappointment, they push open the front door, trying to avoid the sticky fingerprints that appear to be some sort of child's growth chart.....

You've possibly just lost the sale, or at the very best, created a negotiation scenario.

While in a perfect world I would love to say if you keep on top of the maintenance, they you wont have much (if any) to do come sale time, but I know that's just not possible. I've bought and built homes with the best intentions of not letting a scrap of grass grow in the wrong spot, or a speck of mould to rear it's ugly head, only to find a few years later that I am frantically wading through a jungle of weeds attempting to locate that garden bed and contemplating wether to paint the rest of the grout black to match the mould stains.

Ok...slight exaggeration. But you get the picture. And in case you don’t....


When someone is visiting your home to buy for the first time, they are looking at it for the first time and are wondering if it is worth their money. So what can you do to stop your buyers going on a cringe-worthy fault finding rampage in your home?

I’ve compiled a checklist I ask myself as I go through your home in my initial consultation in preparation for staging a home to identify the "money leaks" that need tending to before an open home. While these things might not show up on photos, they can make a big impact in person

Street Appeal/backyard:

  • Does the letterbox match the dollar value I want for my home? is it damaged or rusty?

  • Do I have clearly visible house numbers?

  • do you have weeds popping up through the grass or garden beds in your front lawn?

  • Are there any brown patches?

  • Is the driveway clean and mould-free?

  • Are there any broken fence palings or peeling paint?

  • Is the front of the house clean and dirt-free?

  • Are my gutters clean?

Front Entrance:

  • Is my front door dirt/dust free?

  • Does the stain/paint look fresh and new?

  • Does my door handle have any rust on it?

  • Is the glass sparkly and clean?

  • Have I removed my "Hookers welcome" mat from the front entrance? (true story!)

  • Is there any dirt built up in the corners where the walls meet the floor? Or on the door jam?

  • Is the light globe working?


  • Does it feel dark and cramped?

  • Can I see dirty grout / tiles?

  • Is the varnish on my wooden floor scratched or peeling?

  • Are there any scuff marks on the walls or skirting?

  • Can I see any chips of paint that are peeling off?

  • Can I see any cobwebs on the cornice or ceiling?

  • Are my light fittings clear of bugs and dirt?


  • Does my skink and tap-ware show rust spots or dullness?

  • Is my grout dirty? (a good investment is to really scrub the grout in the kitchen if you have tiles - it gives the impression of a well maintained home)

  • Is the oven front sparkly and clean (with no food splatters or sticky oil leftovers)

  • Can I see any oven mitts, tea towels or soaps lying around?

  • Is the front of the fridge rust free and clean?

  • Is the range-hood rust free and clean?

  • Are the silicone seals worn and lifting?

  • Are all lights working and bright?

  • Are the knobs on my cooktop worn and dated?

Living/ Dining room:

  • Are there any scuff marks or chipped paint on the walls or skirting?

  • Do the floor boards have "walking tracks" through the varnish or is it peeling?

  • Are my window sills yellowing or peeling?

  • Is my Air Conditioning vent mould-free and clean?

  • Are there any ant trails that need to be taken care of?

  • Can I see any movement cracks in the pain or cornice joins?


  • Are the tracks in my sliding wardrobe doors clear of dirt and hair?

  • Is the space bright and light?

  • Have I made sure the light bulbs are nice and bright?

  • Does the carpet have stains, walking tracks, or divots from furniture in it?

  • Are there any cobwebs in the corners or dust on the ceiling fan?

  • Can I see any mould or mildew on the air conditioner?


  • Is there mould and discolouring on the grout?

  • Are my tiles cracked or chipped?

  • Is the shower screen broken or rusty?

  • Is my tap-ware dull or the chrome rubbing off, or full of white scale buildup?

  • Are my tap handles dated and "old"

  • Is the Bathtub enamel chipped, scratched or stained? Or worse, is it pink?

  • Can I see any mould stains on the silicone?

  • Are there condensation runs on the walls?

  • Is my light fitting in the bathroom making it look dark and poorly lit?

  • Are there any smells coming from the drains or toilet?

  • Can I see a dust build-up on the extractor fan?

If you have to choose which room to spend a little money sprucing it up, make sure it is the bathroom first, a clean and sterile bathroom will always be a value-adding. Generally, people feel that the hardest and most effort to"fix up" a space is in the bathroom. The kitchen is a close second.

Some of these things may seem over the top, but you that once your buyer spots something they see as work they would have to fix, or signs of poor upkeep, their attention shifts to spot everything else that needs attention and for everything they spot, it's dollars off your final sale price.

Grace Fuss