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A dose of realism for desperate sellers
A dose of realism for desperate sellers

With the heady days of the real- estate boom long gone, there are plenty of desperate sellers on the market wondering just what they have to do to get their houses off their hands.

Enter the enduringly popular Lifestyle Channel offering, Selling Houses Australia, a series about to begin its sixth season.

The show, Lifestyle's highest rating program, charts the stories of sellers at their wits' end as they try to offload homes in pressing and even desperate circumstances.

The Selling Houses team - property expert Andrew Winter, interior designer Shaynna Blaze and landscaping specialist Charlie Albone - take on one such house per episode and perform a Cinderella-style transformation guaranteed (in about 80 per cent of cases) to ensure a sale.

Blaze, a judge on Nine's home renovation juggernaut The Block, says it's easy for sellers to become overwhelmed and stick their heads in the sand rather than tackle their home's problems.

Take the likeable owner of a Victorian home featured in tonight's season return. He has no useable bathroom, his kitchen is in disarray and his home resembles a building site. But he can't understand why buyers won't meet the price he needs in order to find financial relief.

Blaze says his case demonstrates a couple of common homeowner errors - assuming someone will be willing to take on your renovation nightmare, and sticking to your guns on an overly ambitious price.

"We've had quite a few people where the house is almost falling apart and they think 'Oh we just thought someone would come in and think this is a great renovator and give it a go'," Blaze says. "But we can't live like that anymore. People need to be able to see where it's going - that it's not going to be too hard work for them."

Blaze says that where once kerb appeal was the critical factor in selling houses, internet appeal is now just as important.

"People will trawl the internet before they will go drive past a house and if it doesn't look good on the internet they're not going to drive past," she says. "So the pictures you put online have to be amazing."

It's vital, too, to keep up maintenance.

"People open doors, they turn taps and if something falls off in their hands or isn't working properly, straight away the alarm bells go off," she says.

Blaze says it's not necessary to spend a bundle to get a house up to scratch and points out that Selling Houses makeovers stick to a realistic budget.

"This is real life," she says. "I mean, your house is worth $300,000 and all of a sudden you get a $200,000 makeover? That's not realistic."