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Preparing your house for sale

By Mo Zeitouneh
Presentation is key when preparing your home for sale, so don’t skip this step. Whether it’s a basic declutter and styling or a small renovation to increase value, discover what buyers are looking for in a property for sale and the common selling mistakes to avoid.

Renovating to sell

Renovations can be a great way to add value to your property when selling, but remember to make sure the potential sale price will justify the expense. Re-carpeting areas with worn floor coverings can be a very cost-effective way to add real spark. A fresh coat of paint inside and out can also make a home feel fresh and bright. Kitchens and bathrooms are obvious targets for upgrade, so consider freshening up these areas.  Remember to keep the costs down, as these areas can be expensive to renovate and your outlay has to be justified in the sale price. Also keep colours and fittings neutral, so it appeals to as many potential buyers as possible and they are not put off by personality choices. Ducted air-conditioning could also be a consideration. While the initial outlay may seem high, it will increase the interest in your property and may help drive the sale price up.

If you’re selling a cheaper unit or apartment, think carefully about whether the cost of a renovation is worth the eventual sale price you will get. In some cases, the new owners may also want to do it themselves.

Home staging

One of the best tips for selling your house is quite simple: present it in the best way possible. You need to remember you’re not just selling a home, you’re selling a lifestyle. Home staging is the term used to describe making your property as appealing as possible to potential buyers so it sells quickly. More than just clean and de-clutter, staging looks at the entire property as it is, then deciding what to store, what to keep, each rooms’ purpose, where to place furniture, accessories and artwork, repairs and upgrades, colours and re-painting, as well as what new things are needed, like towels and bed linen. It often involves hiring furniture for the duration of a sales campaign. You can pay a stager by the hour for advice – for about $150 an hour – and then either do the work required or get extra help.

Costs vary by stager and state, but a typical four bedroom house in Brisbane costs about $5000 to fully furnish for eight weeks.

Open for inspections

The first impression your home makes on would-be buyers is vital and making sure it’s a good one when they first come through isn’t as hard as you think. Doing a de-clutter, re-arranging furniture into more inviting configurations and introducing pleasing odours can all come together to paint an inviting picture during an open. Another is to make yourself, family and any pets scarce. This allows potential buyers to relax as they inspect your property and gives them space to picture themselves in the home.

Being “emotionally prepared” for opens is also important, as having people wander through your home can feel like an invasion of privacy to some. Remind yourself it’s just part of the process and take some practical steps to help feel more secure. This might include removing super-personal items, like family photos, kids’ drawings and identifying documents, like diplomas, from the walls. It’s also worth remembering, not everyone is going to love your home like you do. If you hear bad feedback, remember while it’s your home, it’s just a piece of property to potential buyers

What happens on auction day?

After all the marketing and inspections, it’s come down to the big day – auction day. Auctions are governed by strict rules and these vary from state to state. As they have done through the lead-up work, your agent will run through the process of the day with you and help you understand what is about to happen. In most cases, the final open for inspection occurs just before the auction, then the agent will generally be legally required to disclose certain information about the property. What this is depends on which state you’re in.

Then it’s on to the part we all know, the bidding. If the reserve price is passed, the property will go to the highest bidder. If the reserve price is not reached, the property is passed in. If the property is passed in, then the highest bidder at that stage has the rights to negotiate a price with the agent and vendors.

Common mistakes when selling

There’s plenty to do when selling you property and there’s plenty of people with an opinion on how you can do it better!  One of the best things you can do is engage an agent early and take their advice. Enlisting an agent early in the process gives them time to work with you to develop the best strategy to market your home and also help with such decisions as whether you should renovate and how much.

People make the mistake of looking to cut costs when choosing an agent or paying for marketing. Choosing the cheapest agent may not bring the best results and also may mean you don’t get the best sale price. The same goes for marketing. Choosing to cut costs could mean the people who should be seeing your property aren’t, so the few hundred dollars you save here may end up costing you thousands. Another common mistake is to aim too high with the selling price. This can potentially scare away buyers who will simply avoid your property because of price. Remember, you can always negotiate the price once a potential buyer shows interest. Do your research into your local market and have a long chat with your agent

How long does it take to sell a house?

While everyone in the property industry has a theory about how long it takes to sell, the reality is a boring ‘ole month. According to those in the know, on average in Australia, it takes about 30 days from when you take the photos of your home until the date of sale. Once the home has been sold, settlement usually takes between 30 and 120 days, with land sales and sales to developers usually taking longer. Of course, every property is different and several factors influence how long it takes to get a sale. Price point, location and type of property are the three main things that will impact the number of buyers interested in the home and by extension, how long it takes to sell.


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