Selling your home in a buyers’ market leaves little room for mistakes.
BY ELIZABETH ALLEN
There are few situations more psychologically challenging than having a property on the market that does not sell – no matter how much you will it to.
A property that sits also becomes stale, leaving you with the choice of taking it off the market or reducing the price.
Make no mistake: today’s is a buyers’ market with supply outstripping demand. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released this week show housing finance for August was down by 1.3 per cent (seasonally adjusted) on last year. Finance for owner-occupied housing was flat (no change) and investment housing was down by 3.9 per cent.
What all this means is that sellers have to work a little harder to achieve their desired price. Before you offer your house or unit for sale, make sure you have maximised its appeal.
Consider the following points:
1. Price your home well
This doesn’t mean putting the most optimistic price on your house or unit but the most realistic. Do your homework. Go online and check out recent sales of comparable property in your area. Use Australian Property Investor magazine or national databases such as RP Data, Australian Property Monitors and SQM Research to discover median prices in your suburb. To drill down further to more detailed information about your postcode, a fee may be payable.
Don’t just sit at your computer. Attend any open for inspections and auctions in your area. Scope your competitors’ asking and selling prices. This will help you to more accurately price your property.
Allow some fat for likely discounting. This is the gap between your asking price and ultimate selling price. This is currently running at about six per cent nationally.
2. Choose the right agent
Once you’ve done your own homework on price, approach three local agents. It’s a good idea first to ask friends if they can recommend one they’ve used. Then ask your selected agents what they think your home is worth, what they base that figure on, and what marketing strategy they suggest. Also consult them on how your home presents and what can be done to improve it.
Don’t choose the agent who puts the highest price on your home but the one you feel most comfortable with. It’s also reasonable to ask them for a list of recent vendors you can speak to, and a list of recent sales.
3. The view from the street
Drive past and imagine you’re seeing your property for the first time: What needs doing? Videotaping your home and then playing it back with family or friends can be a fun way to objectively view your home’s good and bad points. Your friends may also offer suggestions for improvements.
Attend to the garden. Buy, or hire, potted plants to brighten up entrances or verandahs. Consider having your house and paths pressure cleaned.
4. Make your home sparkle
Attend to any repairs – leaking taps, cracked grouting, sticking doors. Get a handyman if you don’t have the time or expertise. Touch up paint or repaint walls, if necessary, in neutral colours.
Declutter by putting away ornaments, toys, photographs and bric a brac. Consider putting superfluous furniture into short-term commercial storage. Or if your furniture is shabby, store it all and hire some decorator items for the selling period. This is called ‘staging’ and stylists can be employed to help.
Erase yourself from the scene. The aim is to present a space that the future owners can imagine themselves in, not view your past life.
Clean the property from top to bottom. If you don’t have time yourself have it done commercially. It will be worth the money. Clean the windows and steam-clean carpets.
5. Observe open-day etiquette
Remove yourself and your pets. Under no circumstances should you loiter in the background while potential buyers wander through your beloved home. At best you will be offended by some of their comments and at worst – and this is very likely – they will spot you as the owner and make a quick exit under your gaze.
If you own an obstreperous pet, consider putting it in a kennel for at least some of the likely selling period. Sales agents and buyers may be reluctant to enter if there’s a large, or yappy, dog on the premises.
Consider opening your house for inspection on a weeknight, when there’s less competition, rather than just at the weekend.
6. Establish a point of difference
When there’s a lot of stock on the market, you need to give a buyer a reason to choose your property over one down the road. Make your property stand out, whether that be with a more flexible contract period – longer or shorter settling time – immaculate presentation, or new paint job.
Have a pest inspection done before putting your home on the market and make the report available to potential buyers.
7. If your home doesn’t sell…
Give yourself a realistic selling period. Remember, the market is slow in many parts of the country. But if it hasn’t sold in the desired time, reassess your asking price. Don’t be one of those people whose house has been on the market for three years. (I kid you not.)
Consider changing your agent. Listing your property with a new agent may bring a new marketing approach and fresh energy.
If all else fails, consider taking your home off the market and relisting it down the track after you’ve examined what may have gone wrong with your first effort.
Elizabeth Allen is the deputy editor of Australian Property Investor magazine, www.apimagazine.com.au