As soon as you make the decision to sell your home, you need to look at your asset in a different way. No longer just the place where you and your family live, your home is now a product that you need to market and present to your potential buyers. Showcasing your home is all about highlighting the possibilities. The more people who see your home as desirable, the higher the price you’re likely to sell it for. Here are 10 tips to help you put yourself in the shoes of your buyers and ensure you get the best possible price for your home.
- Understand your buyers
Different kinds of properties suit different kinds of buyers. What a young professional couple is looking for is unlikely to be the same as that which appeals to a growing family. Empty-nesters have different needs again. If you can second-guess the kind of people who may be attracted to your property you can:
- Craft your marketing accordingly
- Better understand how you can go about preparing your home for sale
- Decide which real estate agent to choose to handle the sale.
A good real estate agent can give you insight into likely buyers based on his or her experience of the local market.
Talk to friends to get their ideas about who they think may be interested in your property, and what they might be looking for.
- Remove personal clutter
Your first step in preparing your home for sale is to pare down your furniture and belongings. Remove any ornaments that are too personal or idiosyncratic. You may be able to see the irony in the kitsch fridge magnet your Aunt Jenny brought back from Surfer’s Paradise, but your buyers may not. As a general rule, take down family photos and children’s drawings — although you can leave a couple of the more artistic ones, especially interesting older photos.
Another benefit of carrying out this step of culling and de-cluttering early on is that it means you can more easily see what needs to be done in terms of cleaning and any repairs.
Home buyers are looking for a place they can imagine themselves being happy and proud of. So, when you come to sell your home, your job is to ensure that nothing gets in the way of your home “communicating” with potential buyers. Leave room for buyers to visualise themselves in your home.
Start by clearing your property of anything that isn’t absolutely essential to the functioning or the aesthetic attraction of a room. Clean out and tidy storage cupboards. Cull pictures, knick- knacks and junk.
Ask a friend with a discerning eye to help you be ruthless about de-cluttering your home for sale.
- Add value with cosmetic changes
Space, freshness and light are probably the most sought-after aspects of a property (apart from storage, more on that in a minute). Many properties that have a lot to offer in this regard are overlooked by buyers because sellers have failed to carry out simple and often inexpensive improvements.
- A coat of paint can freshen up both the interior and exterior of a home — and is likely to add probably twice its cost to the value of the home. Stick to neutral colours, and ensure the paint job looks professional.
- Lift worn carpets or lino to reveal floorboards that you can polish to create a clean, modern feel. If you don’t have floorboards, replace with medium-quality floor coverings or look into installing a floating timber floor.
- Replace tired cabinet doors and door handles in the kitchen and bathroom for an inexpensive and worthwhile lift. Re-grouting bathroom and kitchen tiles can make old tiles look new again.
- Install a window or a skylight to brighten up a gloomy room. A window with a pleasant view over a garden or some other aspect gives a double benefit of light and space.
- Create an outdoor entertaining area by paving a section of the backyard close to the house, and buying an inexpensive outdoor furniture set. You can do the same with an apartment balcony by adding some cheerful tubs of greenery and a barbecue.
- Leave larger-scale structural improvements to the new owners. You’re unlikely to get the money back you spend on upgrading the infrastructure such as re-wiring or re-blocking (replacing the foundations of your property).
- Build more storage
One of the biggest complaints of home owners is lack of storage. Having a spacious open-plan living area or three bathrooms can be cancelled out if there is nowhere to store sheets, the vacuum cleaner or family memorabilia. Wardrobes are also often all too scarce — especially in older homes where people relied in the past on a big, old, freestanding wardrobe.
Here’s how to make more space for storage:
- Rooms: Ensure each room in your property has some form of cupboard, cabinet or shelving. Even if the storage isn’t built in, you can show the room’s potential for fitting in a wardrobe or bookshelf.
- Linen cupboard: Everyone needs somewhere to store their sheets and towels. Perhaps you can sacrifice a section of a hallway, laundry or bathroom to install a freestanding cupboard or build one in. Make sure, though, that it’s made of material that can handle moisture and humidity. Bamboo, glass and chrome are good options.
- Roof space: If you’ve got a bit of space in your roof, it may be worthwhile converting it into an attic. As long as it’s properly lined and easily accessible with a fold-down ladder, this may more than pay for its value by appealing to buyers who can dream about storing their family heirlooms, winter bedding and camping equipment.
- Shed: If you don’t have a garage, buy a garden shed big enough to fit a few tools and a bike or lawnmower.
- Find an enthusiastic real estate agent
If you don’t handle the sale of your property yourself, you need to rely on a real estate agent to bring in buyers and get them interested in your home. Make sure the agent you choose understands your property’s good points and has the skills and commitment to market them with enthusiasm.
Think about whether an agent is the type of person who can communicate well to the kinds of people you’ve determined are likely to be interested in your home:
- Does she/he dress appropriately?
- Can she/he talk authoritatively without being intimidating?
- Is she/he the kind of person who is likely to win the trust of your potential buyers and encourage them to make a good offer?
- Target your marketing
Big glossy advertisements don’t necessarily result in bigger prices. More important may be listing your property on a major real estate website, along with a well- designed and worded signboard outside your property that attracts and informs drive-by home-seekers.
Skilful use of photographs and descriptive text can highlight your property’s best points, particularly those not obvious from the street. Sing the praises of your location as well as of the property itself.
- Price your home properly
List your home at a price that is likely to target the right buyers. Too high and you’re narrowing your potential buyer pool, too low and you’re only going to get the opportunistic bargain hunters.
- Dress to impress on inspection days
The repainting, polishing, cleaning and de-cluttering are all done. On inspection day, make sure your home is fresh and welcoming. Sweep the front step, polish the doorknocker, fill the entrance with light and put fresh flowers in strategic spots around the property.
Get rid of the kids and the pets — and all evidence of them, including toys, animal hair and smells. Clear the sink and kitchen bench, and put fresh towels in the bathrooms. Burn vanilla or peppermint essential oils no less than an hour beforehand. Have soft tasteful music playing in the background, and make yourself scarce.
- Be prepared to negotiate
Be prepared to drop around five per cent from your hoped-for price — but take guidance from your real estate agent about the demand from buyers thus far.
In an auction sale, if the property is passed in at a price lower than you like, have some negotiating points ready to offer the under-bidder. Can they offer you a better price if you volunteer a longer settlement period, for example, or if you leave the collection of large, potted palms behind?
- Ensure a smooth transaction from contract to settlement
A contract isn’t binding until each of you has a copy signed by both of you.
For settlement day, make sure you:
- Vacate the property (unless the sale goes through with tenants in place).
- Leave it in the same condition it was in when your buyer signed the contract — otherwise the buyer has the legal right to delay or pull out of the settlement.
- Organise the disconnection of all utilities.
- Hand over the keys to the new owners.