Thinking of selling your house? 2021 could be the year to do it but experts say there are certain steps vendors should take to ensure they get the best price.
With the housing market running red-hot and showing no signs of slowing down, aspiring buyers and real estate agents alike are crying out for more properties to come on to the market.
That means it could be an opportune time for those considering putting their property up for sale. But while times of limited stock do make for easier, faster sales, they don’t necessarily equate to getting the best price possible.
There is, after all, a difference between flicking off a property quickly based on the first offer, and putting a bit of time and effort into truly maximising the sale.
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So what should homeowners who want to get the most out of the sale of their biggest asset do? Stuff talked to a few experts for advice on how to do it right.
Do your homework – and get it done early
First up, Real Estate Institute (REINZ) chief executive Bindi Norwell says sellers should make sure they’ve done some research to understand their local market.
“Not all three-bedroom, two-bathroom properties are created equal, so having a really good idea of what’s available in the surrounding neighbourhoods and what the ‘competition’ looks like will stand you in good stead when it comes time to sell.”
Knowing what prices is effective in increasingare like for comparative properties in your area is always valuable. It can also provide you with the necessary detail to offer an attractive point of difference with your sale.
Century 21 owner Derryn Mayne says putting a price on your property can make a huge difference, particularly for entry level properties. That’s because first home buyers are now avoiding properties without a price.
“They have a budget and are tired of going into multi-offer situations and being blown out of the water. Not advertising an asking price can benefit a vendor, but it also runs the risk of putting off many potential buyers who think it’s just too hard or beyond them.”
Another sensible thing to do is to sort out any essential legal requirements before putting your property up for sale. This might include getting a LIM report to identify any outstanding issues, and then rectifying them, or completing any lingering building code requirements.
Being organised in this way allows you to avoid any headaches over the problem during the sale process, Ray White Mt Eden owner Jared Cooksley says. “It gives you breathing time and makes everything less messy.”
First impressions really do count
The next point of action for any vendor is an oldie, but it’s a goodie. You must look at the presentation of your property – and, remember, first impressions count.
Norwell says this means making sure your property has good street appeal and that you’ve done all those ‘odd-jobs’ around the house that you’ve been meaning to get to over the years.
For the front of the house, it is necessary to have mowed the lawns, tidied the garden, removed any foliage touching the house, swept the driveway and dealt to the surrounding berms.
It also involves taking care of repair jobs which are not exciting but which are critical and often overlooked, Cooksley says. So tackle such things as windows with cracks, water ingress in bathrooms and lights.
Getting a fresh paint job and replacing carpets are two of the most effective ways to increase the appeal of a property. That means agents often encourage these steps but the one thing that can’t be avoided is a deep clean.
Cooksley says a professional clean might cost a couple of hundred dollars but can make all the difference. “Preparing a house for sale might cost from about $500 to $2000 (unless something major is required). But that investment could add from $10,000 to $20,000 to its value.”
Formal presentation is everything
When it comes to the formal presentation of your property for marketing photos and open homes, the key word is de-clutter.
Mayne says that while you may love all your lifelong treasures and family photos, most people won’t.
“Decluttering a full house makes a huge difference as does staging an empty one. Then there’s the little things: If the front doorstep needs a paint, paint it. If the door mat is tatty, replace it. It’s simple stuff but it really sets the tone.”
It is important to de-personalise the property so that a potential purchaser can see themselves living in the house, rather than just feeling like they’re visiting someone else’s property, Norwell agrees.
“So try and make the property feel as neutral as possible. Also, consider staging your house in order to really sell the ‘dream’ of your home and to try and create the best first impression possible.”
It’s important to note that staging is an easy option if a property is vacant, but it’s not if you are living in your house. However, there are “halfway” solutions whereby a staging company can rearrange your furniture to present the property in its best light.
Pick a good agent – and take their advice
Opting for a private sale may seem like a good idea, but recent research from REINZ found that using an agent could net you up to 15 per cent more for your property than selling privately.
That’s because a good agent has specialised knowledge of the local market, selling, marketing and negotiating skills, and a network of useful contacts.
Cooksley says many people who sell privately think they have done well, but they don’t know what they could have achieved with professional help.
“For vendors wanting to get the best possible price for their biggest asset, an agent makes all the difference, even in a buoyant market like this one.
“When houses are selling quickly, people tend to rush in and too many people just take the first offer, but they don’t need to in this market. A good agent will know if an offer is a good one or whether you can hold out for more.”
Selecting an agent involves doing some research. Identify a few who seem to have a good track record and interview them. It’s important to find out about their recent sales and assess their professionalism, but also to see if you get along with them.
The relationship between agent and vendor needs to be open and transparent to get the best results, Courtney says.
“Trust and communication are important, but you need to be open to feedback and take an agent’s advice on board.”
Covid era considerations
As with so much of our lives, the Covid crisis has led to some new considerations for those selling their houses.
Norwell says one thing that is particularly important in the current Covid environment is to ensure you focus on enhancing any outdoor areas. Prior to Covid, agents were seeing a greater move towards smaller properties and reduced outdoor areas.
“But, since lockdown we’ve seen an uplift in demand for properties with larger backyards, decks or a pool. So, anything you can do in terms of focusing on these areas is likely to help with the sale of your property.”
Covid has also prompted a shift in the ways people look at and buy real estate. Many have turned to their computers to do their house-hunting, with growing numbers buying properties sight unseen.
People simply don’t want to miss out, so they are effectively buying off first impressions, with a condition to then have it physically inspected, Mayne says. That’s why a strong, professional online and social media presence is critical in the current market.
“Great online presentation is more important than ever. That means professional photography with the likes of drone and video footage, virtual tours, and 3D floor plans playing a key role in attracting buyers and achieving top dollar.”