‘You’re selling the lifestyle’: How to get top dollar when selling your property

Garbo spends $140m on property

Selling during a boom still requires work.Source:Supplied

If first impressions are everything, then grabbing the right buyer’s attention could come down to a couple of click-worthy photos online.

House hunters know they aren’t actually buying the coveted couch or dreamy daybed they see in an ad, but in the age of Instagram they are still more likely to stop scrolling and click on a well-presented home than an empty (or ugly) room.

Making a memorable listing, however, needn’t be an expensive or overwhelming undertaking according to property stylist Justine Wilson.

MORE: Garbo spends $140m on property

“If buyers are going through dozens of thumbnails of similar homes in similar areas, you’ve got to have something eye-catching and it could be as simple as adding colour to make your online marketing jump out,” she said.

“Having pops of colour can be something a vendor can do themselves. If it’s a bit of a bland bedroom, make sure the bed is made, put in an inexpensive artwork above the bed versus a family photo, and have a couple of bright scatter cushions,” she said.


A switched on selling agent and their photographer should know how to make online magic happen, but Ms Wilson, the founder of Vault Interiors, said sellers can help the process with preparation.

“Move furniture out of the way so the photographer can make the room look larger. They’ll know all the right angles, but it’s helpful if you’ve thought of that too,” she said.

“Furniture layout itself is super important. If the online marketing looks great, people are more likely to go to that open home. If it’s an empty room they can’t visualise how they would use the space and often they’ll discredit that property and not even go to the open,” she added.

Garbo spends $140m on property

When you are selling a home, you are selling a lifestlye.Source:istock

LJ Hooker conducted an agent survey in 2019 which uncovered what the difference property staging made. The findings showed 87 per cent of agents believed styling would lead to a higher sale price and 70 per cent said a home would sell faster styled than empty. “Some staging is better than no staging. An empty house is an absolute no-no if you’re trying to get a premium,” she said.


May 2021 data from realestate.com.au revealed “pool”, “garage”, “outdoor area” and “ensuite” were among the top five search terms for buyers on the portal.

Nick Viner, buyer’s agent and director of Buyer’s Domain, said he had seen a shift in what buyers want over the past 12 months.

“I see people wanting more internal space. The biggest change has definitely been study spaces and extra bedrooms which has come down to the work from home movement. So if a seller has an empty space, then I’d suggest they fill it out with a desk and chair. If they can identify what a buyer wants it takes it to the next level,” he added.

Ms Wilson agreed that showing the possibilities is essential when preparing to sell. “If you’ve got a stairwell that’s just got shoes in it, take the shoe cabinet out and make a study nook. You want to create extra zones that will add value, you want to give every area a function,” she said.


Despite the popularity of renovation television, most buyers aren’t in the market for a fixer-upper so the more liveable a property is, the better.

“Do obvious things like paint touch ups, go through and clean the carpet, if you’ve got floorboards with big scratches then fix those. Even though it’s a seller’s market, the more move-in ready a home is, the more desirable it is. Overwhelmingly buyers don’t want to have to do a massive amount of work,” Ms Wilson said.

“You don’t have to spend a fortune in order to capitalise on what’s already there. You can update the kitchen and bathroom by swapping out handles and hardware that might be scrappy and change light fittings or placement,” she added.

Mr Viner added that buyers’ prerogatives had changed so sellers should pay attention.

“I think the appetite for renovations has probably subsided. Maybe it’s Covid, maybe not, but I think the novelty has gone somewhat. Perhaps people are busier and the cost of renovations has gone up too so more buyers are thinking they might as well get a property that is done,” he said.


Ms Wilson said sellers need to detach themselves from their home because although buyers may be seeking a new lifestyle, they’re not after yours.

“Jewellery boxes, family photos, kids’ drawings on the fridge, all those little things need to be put away and stored because you need really minimal surfaces. You’ve got to think about it like a hotel or an Airbnb listing, really depersonalised but neat and tidy,” she explained.

Vendors should also remember that it’s not just a property that’s for sale, but an idea.

“You’re selling the lifestyle, not just the bricks and mortar. If you’re by the water, you want blue accents for that coastal feel. If you’re in the city, you want funky furniture to appeal to that buyer demographic. Highlighting whatever that property has in terms of lifestyle is very important,” she said.

“Do everything within your power to get the best price because if you’re going to go through the stress of selling, you may as well get the best outcome, right? Take your agent’s advice, take your stylist’s advice because they’re all just trying to help you get the best price.”


Back to basics: Make sure the property is clean and clutter free. Remove any excess furniture and decorative items like photo frames and trinkets. Carry out any repairs and touch up painting.

Aim for aspirational: Set the scene and present the lifestyle on offer. Introduce style and detail through cushions, throws, accessories and artwork.

Showcase functionality: Help buyers visualise how the home will function for them, or their tenant. The most common styling error is selecting furniture that does not fit the room properly.

Value add: Convert unused or awkward areas into usable spaces that add extra value. For example, study spaces are becoming a must-have for buyers and can be incorporated into most homes.

Manage impressions:First impressions count. A fresh coat of paint can be money well spent. Repair any outside damage such as broken fencing, guttering or outdoor lights and create a pathway.

Prepare for open homes: Show the home in its best light and be organised. Ensure the property is spotless on open days with no trace of pets or scent.

Financing: There are financial solutions available for sellers with limited funds to pay for styling. CampaignAgent, for example, has a Pay Now Pay Later scheme that funds 1.5 per cent of the estimated sales price upfront for the purposes of creating more buyer competition.

Originally published asTricks experts use to push up sale prices

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