By CHERIE BARBER
Choose your agent wisely
A real estate agency with a great reputation in your area is a good starting point, but it won’t guarantee you get the best person for the job. Like in every company, there are terrific staff and average staff, and you want to make sure you don’t put the latter in charge of selling your prize asset.
You need to quiz your agent about their knowledge of the area – and know the answers to the questions you’re asking: everything from the recent sold prices of similar properties, to their advised marketing strategy. In some suburbs or in some market conditions, private treaty might be more common than auctions, or vice-versa, so you would be ill advised to buck the trend unless there’s a compelling reason to.
Don’t base your decision on gut feel; do your homework and get the facts. And remember everything is negotiable, from agent’s commission, to the length of your agency agreement (i.e. how long you’re tied to your agent in the event your property doesn’t sell quickly) to the settlement period.
Get your property professionally styled
I heard a great quote recently: “Selling your property means selling a lifestyle, but not necessarily your own.” Or indeed your tenants.
Even with all my experience renovating properties, I’d never try selling a property without professional styling. I figure I’ve spent all that money and effort doing a professional renovation, so why would I skimp on an extra few thousand dollars to make sure the property looked A1 come inspection day?
It’s money you’ll always see back, often adding up to tens of thousands of dollars to the final selling price, depending on the property value. And as an investor, it’s tax deductible anyway.
The pros know exactly how to style a property to appeal to the widest possible market. It’s highly strategic and applies a lot of psychology about what presses people’s emotional buttons.
Styling takes away the guesswork for buyers and allows them to see where they can place their own furniture. If the rooms were empty and soulless, or cluttered with tenants’ stuff, you’d be relying on the buyer’s own imagination to envisage this – and don’t rely on everyone having that kind of visual flair.
You’ll also notice stylists don’t give a room too much personality and will try and keep both colour scheme and furnishings fairly neutral. That’s because buyers still need to be able to visualise a room with their own taste and furniture in it. All of that is definitely a job best left to trained professionals.
Retain control of the selling process
Even with a great agent and terrific styling, you want to hold onto the reins. Neither your stylist nor your agent is going to pull out weeds, paint the front door, replace the battered letterbox or get rid of the stained carpet. Although they might suggest it.
If the place has been tenanted for a while, it’s bound to benefit from a cosmetic refresh. You want to spend the absolute minimum, so direct your attention to really obvious, highly visible flaws that are easy to replace or fix, things like the window furnishings, light fittings, flooring, etc. And a fresh coat of paint goes without saying.
Before every open for inspection, check over the property yourself. Sweep the front path, turn on lamps, open the blinds or curtains to let in the light, plump up the cushions, throw open the bi-fold doors to bring in the garden, place fresh flowers around the place, have ambient music down low in the background… put yourself in the shoes of your buyer and make the place look and feel as inviting as possible. Your agent isn’t going to look after this level of detail before each open for inspection, but it’s those little touches that might just get a temperamental buyer the line.
For an investor, buying a property is a purely business decision. But investors selling a property have to remember that for most buyers, it’s an emotional decision – and that’s what you need to tap into to get top dollar.