With a sudden rush of property onto the market this spring, owners need to go to extra lengths to make sure their homes stand out from the others, and cash in on the highest prices.
New listings have been ticking up, and last weekend’s auction volumes were the second-busiest week of the year so far across the combined capital cities, on CoreLogic figures.
Part of the rush is due to the seasonal boost – owners often choose to sell in spring when their garden is at its best – but some owners are selling investment properties or even their main residence to get ahead of mortgage stress.
So how can sellers get the best result?
Before you even start, have a good think about what you’re doing, and why, advises Peter Hutton, director of vendor advocacy agency Hutton & Hutton in Brisbane. “You have to consider what outcome and end result – if you don’t really know the reason you’re selling, you can struggle,” he said. “If, on the other hand, you’re committed and determined, that will impact what happens.”
Choose your agent carefully. One might strike you as the most engaged with the suburb, but that’s not to say he or she will suit you. Interview a few agents, suggests Hutton, and listen to others’ recommendations.
Matt Lahood, CEO of The Agency, agrees. “A top flight agent might look attractive, but make sure they’re someone who’s going to have enough time to work hard on your behalf, and not be too busy with a lot of other clients.”
Your agent will ask buyers for feedback on your home and advise you if you need to heed any of their criticisms. Swallow your pride and listen carefully, says Jessica Cao of Sydney’s Ray White Upper North Shore. “There might be something putting buyers off which can be easily remedied.”
Look at your home with a critical eye. Notice any dripping taps, flaking paint, rust on guttering, mould on grouting – get them fixed.
Check your flooring. “You might need to replace carpets, polish the slab or maybe even lay timber floors if that would suit the home’s age, location and the demographic it will appeal to,” said Nick Gatacre, principal of Belle Property South Yarra, Melbourne.
If you’re selling an investment property, there are two schools of thought. Some buyers could be keen to keep the tenants on, which could enhance the value of the property, but a vacant property can be easier to update with painting or new carpets, and can be made available for inspection at a moment’s notice.
Make sure the front of your home looks good for prospective buyers who drive or walk by before they decide whether they’ll stop and look at it, says Lahood. “First impressions are critical,” he said.
Stephanie Bungard of Beautiful Spaces Styled by Steph recommends sprucing up the front of the house by painting the front door a bold colour, adding stylish numbers, updating the door hardware, putting down a nice mat, and making sure the lawn looks good and the plants are healthy.
“Give it a good deep clean and make sure there aren’t any off-putting smells. Wipe down the cupboard doors, light switches and windows – which will make a big difference to the light that comes in – and freshen everything up. Paint if need be.
“Make sure taps and fixtures look shiny and new, and accessorise with fruit in the kitchen, beautiful candles, really nice towels and spa items in the bathrooms, and put really luxe bed linen in the master bedroom. Add art for a pop of colour to brighten neutral spaces and make them feel more alive.”
Most vendors accept styling is a necessity rather than a luxury, even though for an average house it can cost $10,000 to $15,000. “But that’s something you can’t afford not to do,” said Jessica Cao of Ray White Upper North Shore in Sydney. “You need your house to present impeccably against the competition.”
Julian Hasemer, founding principal of 1st City in Sydney, says decluttering and tidying up is vital, but he recommends against major renovations. “People often think of putting in a new kitchen and bathroom but most buyers might want to put their own signature on a house,” he said. “I’ve seen people renovate and then, two weeks after settlement, they see their new kitchen in a dump bin out at the front.”
Give your property the best possible chance of a good sale by promoting it well, counsels John Bongiorno of Marshall White in Melbourne’s Stonnington. “Don’t just rely on the internet portals,” he said. “Look at the demographic it’s appealing to and make sure you cover every avenue.
“There’s an important place for print and we find that tends to drive traffic to the websites. Don’t scrimp on the expense. An investment in promotion can pay back tenfold.”
Think outside the box. Often, it’s a great idea to have a pre-launch campaign, with a champagne open house for neighbours and friends. “Your neighbours are going to be your best advocates,” Bongiorno said. “Get them onside, and talking.”
Good quality photos from a professional photographer are vital. They’ll be seen on websites and in print and will lure buyers in to look. “Our agents often put pictures on their social media too,” said Lahood. “You should also have a video made and a virtual tour and we’ll often have drone footage as well, especially if there’s a harbour or river or beautiful countryside nearby. They could prove invaluable to an expat looking in London.
“Floorplans are also always important so people can work out how they’re going to live in your property, and include any spaces that could be used for working from home.”
When you settle on a price with your agent, make sure it’s a competitive one, urges Lahood. “People put their home or their investment property on the market and often don’t remember that others are putting theirs on at the same time,” he said. “So you have to make sure your price is reasonable. Too high, and you won’t have any buyers. Too low, and you’ll be cheating yourself.”
There may be an enormous amount of interest in your property – most likely if it’s a newly renovated family house in a popular area – or it may be harder if it’s one of a number of similar investment properties from owners all trying to sell because of higher interest rates. Your agent will advise you on whether or not to accept an early pre-auction offer, depending on how good it is, and how much early interest there is.
And don’t spend too much energy trying to anticipate the market, advises Cao. “The best time to sell is when the best time is for you and your family to sell,” she said.
“No one knows what the market will do next week, next month, next year.”