THE season is blooming and buyers are out, but how do you draw them to your home, not another?
As listings ramp up after winter's lull, making a memorable impression could matter more than ever.
Presentation can make or break a buyer's interest, property experts say. We asked them for the single most important task sellers must tackle before listing this spring - and they found it hard to stop at just one.
First impressions count - so pay attention to the front of your property, remembering it's competing with many others.
"It can mean the difference between the buyer stopping the car and getting out, or simply slowing down and driving off," WBP Group executive chairman Greville Pabst said.
Drawing in a buyer began at the front gate - so get to work by adding new plants to the yard.
Weeding, pressure cleaning paths and driveways, adding mulch, and trimming lawns, trees and shrubs were important too, Mr Pabst said.
McGrath, St Kilda, principal Michael Townsend highlighted how external presentation can set the tone of the entire viewing.
"For a buyer, the inspection starts at the kerbside."
APPEAL TO THE SENSES
Once you've lured a buyer inside, the key is to entice them to stay.
"Try to engage the buyer's emotion," Mr Pabst said.
Visual complements like fresh flowers were important - but homes should tempt other senses, too.
"Get rid of cooking odour, unless you are baking a cake or fresh bread. Candle scent can be effective," Mr Pabst said.
Make sure the home is warm and free of drafts, throw back curtains to let light flood in, and consider quiet background music, he added.
Mr Townsend said sensory elements created a lasting impression.
"Buyers will remember how a property made them feel, so putting effort into the atmosphere of the home is very important," he said.
DITCH THE JUNK
A top presentation task that wouldn't cost a cent was decluttering, National Property Buyers Victorian director Antony Bucello said. "Decluttering is important as it makes rooms look larger and gives a greater sense of space, which is always helpful in achieving the maximum price," Mr Bucello said.
Advantage Property Consulting director Frank Valentic said removing everyday clutter helped a home look its best.
"Often the way we live isn't necessarily the best way to showcase a home," he said.
Mr Valentic said he'd seen for years that presentation got results.
"People who ensure the property is presented well maximise their selling price," he said.
To create the perfect picture for a buyer, consider not only removing your clutter - but yourself, too, Mr Valentic said.
A vacated property could be easier to style and show interested parties through, he said.
"If the property is tenanted I highly recommend vacating the tenants, and as an owner I think you should do the same so the home can impress," Mr Valentic said.
Buyers want to feel that they've walked into a dream home - and that dream didn't involve dust or grime, Kay & Burton, South Yarra, partner Nicole Gleeson said.
"Meticulously clean like it's never been cleaned before," she said.
Paint was one of the most cost-effective ways to brighten a home, Hocking Stuart, Balwyn, director Toby Parker said. And a fresh paint feel didn't have to mean rollering the whole house.
"Give the front door a new coat, or even the skirting boards in the entryway. Focusing on the entrance area is important, as that's where agents spend a fair bit of time talking to potential buyers," Mr Parker said.
Kitchens and bathrooms helped sell homes and should be "in spick and span condition", Hodges, Sandringham, director Kylie Charlton said.
"Buyers are becoming more particular and tend to want properties that are complete, neat and ready to live in," she said.
New carpet also left a fresh impression, Ms Charlton added.
GO WITH THE PROS
Hiring a professional stylist and professional photographer to stage and capture the home would maximise the number of people that inspected it.
"This is important as in the end, it's a numbers game - the more people that inspect, the more chance people will become interested in the property and the competition drives prices upwards," Mr Bucello said.
ADD SOME STYLE
Furniture and accessories can boost a room's appeal. But your taste - however great - might not hit the right note with everyone.
"Simplify decor to a neutral palette with a pop of colour," Ms Gleeson said. "Take out overpowering pieces that may not appeal to the masses - they can be a distraction."
And don't just style the indoors - showcase outdoor space, too, Mr Valentic said.
"Make sure there is an entertaining setting so people can see there is an outdoor lifestyle on offer," he said.
ON THE COAST
Homes by the beach often needed extra attention before making it to market, Kay & Burton, Portsea, director Liz Jensen said.
"As the majority are holiday homes, they've usually been locked away for winter," she said.
Ms Jensen said coastal gardens often needed a full makeover by spring. Citrus scents could add a burst of freshness, and seaside sellers could look to local stores for furniture and homewares unique to the coast for great spring styling.