3 June 2017

Styling and selling tips for home owners looking for top dollars in the Canberra market

| Glynis Quinlan
Start the conversation

It is no secret that dirty bathrooms, dated furniture and broken fixtures are a turn-off for buyers but how does a home owner maximise their chances of impressing potential purchasers?

The answers are in a new book entitled Prosperous Property by Canberra real estate agent Karen Murphy who takes the tips and tricks she has learned in her 30 years in the local property industry and turns them into common-sense advice.

Ms Murphy, a sales consultant for Luton Properties, says that 80 per cent of a great sales result is in planning and preparation.

That starts with being upfront with the story behind the sale and moves on to de-cluttering, cleaning, repairing and styling while working out how to remove strange pets and noxious smells from the open house!

“Providing an open and honest reason for moving or selling that inspires confidence about the property from the outset is essential to your marketing strategy,” writes Ms Murphy, who suggests that otherwise buyers might worry about hidden problems or what the neighbours are like.

Ms Murphy then goes on to explain the legal requirements for selling a property in the ACT or NSW before moving on to the all-important issue of preparing the property so that it will “sell quickly for top dollar”.

The first step is to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and look at your property with fresh eyes.

“Make a note of any items that may be of concern or put you off buying the property, or that may alter your opinion on what the property is worth,” writes the Curtin mother-of-three.

“Pay attention to wear and tear, any damage to the roof, ceiling, walls and floors. Look for anything that appears to need replacing or repairing.”

Ms Murphy suggests that inexpensive improvements such as painting, new floor coverings and replacing kitchen cupboards can sometimes add thousands to the value of a home.

She also strongly advocates that staging or property-styling is vitally important when preparing a property for sale. The seller can choose between paying a professional stylist or doing it themselves but the aim should be to create a ‘wow factor’ from the moment people walk through the door.

“A buyer will have already made up their mind whether or not they are interested in buying a property within a short time of entering,” Ms Murphy writes.

“The rest of the time spent inspecting the property will reflect back to the all-important initial reaction.”

Ms Murphy recently secured a sale for a four bedroom house in Peter Cullen Way, Wright in just three weeks after the owner, Michele Hayne, followed the tips in Prosperous Property. Ms Hayne decided to de-clutter and style her house using her own furniture and was thrilled when her home sold before even reaching the auction date.

For others looking to do the styling themselves, Ms Murphy offers the following 14 tips in her book.


This means removing excess items and personal belongings from the viewer’s sight.

“Properties that are crammed with ornaments, photos, artwork and memorabilia make it hard for buyers to envisage fitting in their own belongings,” Ms Murphy writes.

“For this reason, it is of utmost importance that you minimise surface clutter in particular by removing excess ornaments, stacks of old newspapers and magazines, bits and pieces, and any other unnecessary items.”


Ms Murphy writes that a property needs to be spotlessly clean and hygienic, particularly just prior to inspections.

“Dust, grime, stains, slime and spillages are all major turnoffs. So are unclean carpets, scuffed floors, dirty windowsills, grubby light switches and door handles,” she writes.

Re-arranging, removing and/or replacing furniture

“If there is too much furniture in the room, or if there are large pieces in a small room, this can make the space look and feel crowded and diminish aesthetic appeal,” the book states.

Ms Murphy suggests moving excess furniture into storage and considering the option of renting furniture to show the property to its best advantage.

Optimise space

“The efficient use of space ensures that even homes that are small in dimension can still offer spaces with specialised purposes and functions,” the book states.


“Using bright and fluffy cushions, contemporary floor rugs and bedding, or an elegant table setting can add to the warmth and appeal of a property,” Ms Murphy writes.

Light it up

Ms Murphy writes that natural light is the best feature and it is good to open up curtains and blinds to let the light in.

Fresh air

“Airing of the entire house before an inspection is of utmost importance. Locked up, sealed or poorly ventilated homes smell stuffy and have an unwelcome feel,” Ms Murphy writes.


Ms Murphy suggests having the contents of cupboards, walk-in wardrobes, drawers and pantries neatly arranged in case nosy buyers want to look inside. This also gives the impression of ample storage space.


“A neat garden that is weed-free with mowed lawns will go a long way when attracting the attention of buyers,” Ms Murphy writes.

“Small enhancements to any fencing and the general outdoor look of the property can also help produce a positive impact by creating great street appeal.”


Ms Murphy writes that unusual or weird pets such as snakes, spiders or rats will not create the best impression with most buyers and that dogs are best kept outside or taken for a walk during inspections.

The stink factor

Ms Murphy writes that a bad smell can be the fastest way to get rid of a buyer and that just spraying the house with air freshener won’t work.

“If there is a bad smell, remove the offending item or have it cleaned so that the property is fresh and appealing.”

White walls

If your property needs any repainting before going on the market, Ms Murphy suggests using white paint or another neutral colour as it creates a sense of spaciousness and light.

Welcoming touches

“Fresh flowers, ventilation, light and good smells are simple details that can make subtle but important differences in home staging,” the book states.

Check regularly

“Continuous and regular inspections are vital to see that everything is in place for the duration that the property is on the market,” Ms Murphy writes.

“Although staging a home might be tiresome, imagine the feeling when your home sells quickly at a price you had only dreamed of.”

Prosperous Property contains a large range of other tips and guidance to take Canberrans through every step of selling their home.

The book retails for $24.99 but Ms Murphy is willing to give away free copies to interested people. To find out more go to her website at www.karenmurphyagent.com.au or phone her on 0406 377 866.

Top photo: Karen Murphy with her book Prosperous Property

Other photos: Inside the home of Michele Hayne in Peter Cullen Way, Wright after she had de-cluttered and styled her home following the tips in Prosperous Property. The home recently sold after only three weeks on the market.

Photo above: A happy Michele Hayne following the sale of her property.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.