Putting your family home on the market carries a whole lot of emotional baggage. The future might be exciting but the journey seems like a snake pit of torture.

There’s a whole lot of neutralising that has to occur and that’s hard when it involves family photos and the touches of personality that make your house a home. You don’t want to be bitten by not reaching the reserve price at auction so there are a few strategies you can engage to help you achieve a good sale.

Potential buyers want to be able to project their personality and taste into the possibility of them living there. That means you need to neutralise as much as possible so they have a fresh canvas to project onto. A key step in this is removing family photos. Taking little Johnny off the wall is harder than you think. It’s your home and you’ll probably find yourself facing a conversation with a 3 year old about why you’ve disappeared them from the wall. Trust me it gets harder when you start to remove their toys and try to change the gaudy pink and green Peppa Pig quilt cover into a lovely cream overthrow.

The key to success is to disassociate yourself and take the emotion out of it. Think of every disappearance of a family photo, or gaudy bedspread as dollars in your pocket and immune yourself to the tantrums that may occur if you have kids. If you haven’t used bribery with your kids – now is the time to start!

You need to be brutal – both with your home and yourself. Get the most critical ‘bitchy’ friend you have and ask them to do a walk through with you. Brief them to be as brutal as possible about what they think needs to change in order for you to achieve a successful sale. Prepare yourself well as this can be emotionally traumatising and make sure your doctor is on speed dial if you need some mind altering chemicals to get you through the experience. Then, take your friend’s advice.

Other typical things to look out for are:

Out-dated/Worn Bathroom Cupboards

You can pick up reasonably priced, modern cupboards that are easy to install from your local hardware store. You’d be surprised at just how much of a difference this will make to your overall bathroom.

Modern Mirrors

Look to see if you can place modern, expensive-looking mirrors in bedrooms, or seek to replace old and tired mirrors in bathrooms. We tend to break the rule of neutrality by buying modern looking mirrors that are still neutral in colour (silver, glass or white frames) and replace the typical boring bathroom mirrors that come with most houses. They’re often a talking point and can brighten up a tired, old bathroom quite cheaply. People are vain and like to look at themselves – if it draws attention away from the yellow 70s floral tiles then it’s worth it!

Swap Large Beds 

King size beds in main bedrooms and queen or double in kids’ rooms – replace these if you can with smaller versions. It’ll make the rooms appear bigger. Swap colourful bedspreads for neutral tones and patterns.

Garage Storage

No the potential buyer won’t say ‘how fabulous that they can store everything in the garage’. They’ll want to be able to fit both cars in easily. Rent an external storage room for a few months and make sure your garage looks neat and tidy.


You might be proud of your Imelda Marcos shoe collection but it makes your wardrobe look cluttered. Get rid of all but 7-8 pairs of shoes and everything from view that doesn’t fit now or was bought on sale in green leopard print. Two finger spaces between coat hangers is a good spacing for clothes to look good.

Garden Features

Stinky green water is not a good look. Buy some pond cleaner and fake plants if you need to, but make sure any water features are running and look clean during inspections.

Front Entrance

Clean up the front entry, trim plants on pathways and remove any kitschy ornaments. If your front door is dated then find a hardware store door that looks good and replace your old one. First impressions count more than you think! People have been known to drive right on past and not go in, based on first impressions.


Especially if you have children. There’s usually a film on painted surfaces from dirty little fingers at hip height, or marks on the teenager’s bedroom wall from posters. You’ll need to repaint some key areas so pick which rooms will have the most impact if you’re on a budget and make them as clean and neutral as possible. You might love that the yellow dandelion feature wall in your family room brightens the space but someone else might be thinking it’ll clash with their furniture, or it reminds them of their hay fever. Paint over it.

I’ve prepared many of my houses for sale and made good returns, but the family home is always the hardest. To make it a successful process the antidote is to disassociate yourself as much as possible and you’ll achieve a greater return in your hip pocket.

About The Author

Kylie Watson

Kylie is an amateur property investor who currently holds 6 properties (mix of apartments, town houses and houses). With her husband Mark, she has a keen interest in the property market and they have renovated, bought, sold, managed and built multiple times. Kylie is passionate about providing advice for people investing in their first property and is an avid reader of everything property related.

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