A-Z Selling Guide – Your must-have companion

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Reproduced with permission.

Your A-Z guide for selling in spring

A is for attention to detail. Spring is usually when most properties are on the market and when most buyers are active. You want your property to stand out from the rest to catch the eye of the potential purchasers coming through your property. It’s the little things that turn your house into a home.

B is for bathroom. This room is one of the most important as it is very expensive to renovate and/or repair. The bathroom should be thoroughly clean. This includes removing mould and mildew from tiles and ceilings, dust and fluff from exhaust fans and spider webs from nooks and crannies. There should be just a slight hint of bleach in the bathroom so as to highlight the cleanliness of the room.
Happy House Hunting!

C is for carpet. Whether you think it needs it or not, have your carpet professionally steam or dry cleaned. Dry cleaning is better for the carpet but steam cleaning gets out more dirt and grime. Have this done well before your first open inspection as you do not want people walking on damp carpet at your first open inspection. Don’t forget to have the carpet deodorized at the same time to mask any unpleasant smells.

D is for dining room. We used to encourage people to have the dining room set with their best cutlery and crockery but this is now “old hat”. A large fresh bunch of flowers in a nice vase is all you need on the dining table. This is also a good place for the real estate sales person to place their brochures.

E is for early. Have your open inspection early in the day – late morning/early afternoon. Imagine how you feel near the end of a day of looking at many homes for sale. By mid afternoon, people have almost had enough of looking at homes and are not in the best frame of mind. It is often the first home that people see that leaves the greatest impression. Unless your home looks better in the afternoon sunlight, consider having your open inspection earlier in the day.

F is for floorboards. Newly polished floorboards, glimmering in the sunlight, enhance the look of the whole house. If you have floorboards in the house and haven’t had them polished recently, do it. You may also wish to stain the floorboards a different colour so that they match to the current fashions.

G is for garden. This is one of the most important components to selling your property. Concentrate on the front garden to enhance the street appeal of the property. This is the first thing people will see when they get to your home. Plant mature plants/flowers, mow the lawn and trim trees, bushes and lawn edges.

H is for handyman. Now is the time to have all those repairs and maintenance items attended to. From the squeaky gate to the loose tiles and dripping taps, get them fixed. If people notice small repairs not attended to, they start wondering about larger items that may need work.

I is for investors. Don’t forget that many investors are out and about looking for property at this time of year. Investors are particularly interested in units as they are cheaper and the difference between rental income and rental expenses is generally not as big with units and flats as it is with investing in a house. If you are selling an investment property with a tenant living in it, encourage the tenant to have the property looking absolutely clean and tidy. In the past we have offered discounts in the rent if the property is looking immaculate.

J is for justify. Justify all your expenses in preparing your property for sale. There is not much point in spending $20,000 in repairs, maintenance and improvements if you are only going to increase the sale price by $5,000. Any money spent in preparing your home for sale should be offset by increasing your sale price by at least the amount you have spent and/or lessening days on market.

K is for kitchen. Along with the bathroom, this is one of the most important rooms in the house. This is the ‘heart and soul’ of the home. A kitchen should be clean and tidy. Clean the oven and scrub the ceilings and the walls to remove the built-up grease and grime. Don’t cook cabbage or fish on the days leading up to the open inspection as these unpleasant smells can linger for a long time. Place fresh herbs around the kitchen as the aroma will give your kitchen that ‘home cooking’ feel.

L is for laundry. Don’t leave the dirty washing basket overflowing and do not have your clothes drying on the line during the open inspections. A smell of fabric softener in the laundry is also a good idea. It gives the perception that it is clean.

M is for marketing. There is no point in having a great property to sell if you are not advertising and marketing correctly. Historically, signs in the front yard and advertising in the newspaper were the only option available to sellers of real estate. I have found that most of my property investment students now use the internet to look for property. Ensure your property is listed on a reputable website, such as realestate.com.au.

N is for noise. It is important that potential buyers are not put off by excess noise at the open inspection. If you live on a busy road, near a freeway, train line or the airport, your open inspections should be at times when there is the least amount of traffic noise, such as a Sunday morning. You may also wish to speak to the neighbours so that your open inspection doesn’t coincide with a neighbour’s noisy party.

O is for open inspection. Have your property looking its best at the time your property is open for inspection. It is hard if you or a tenant is living in the property but you need to make sure the simple things are taken care of, such as no dirty dishes in the sink, no towels or clothes on the floor and no dog poo on the lawn.

P is for painting. I have found that when preparing a property for sale, you get the best ‘bang for your buck’ by painting. A few hundred or possibly a couple of thousand dollars can add tremendous value to your property. You don’t have to paint the whole house but look for areas that appear a little tired and dated. Use light and neutral colours, especially in small rooms/spaces.

Q is for questions. Have answers prepared to frequently asked questions. These questions range from “How big is the block?”, “Which high school is the property zoned for?” to “Are you flexible with the length of the settlement period?” and “Can we have access to the property before settlement?”

R is for rent. If you are selling an investment property, ensure that you are charging market rent. An astute investor who is interested in your property will place a lot of emphasis on the rent as a relatively high (and sustainable) rent will be very attractive as it makes it easier for them to pay off the mortgage.

S is for shops and schools. Two big selling points are proximity to shops and schools. You may not have used the local school/child care centre but a potential purchaser may wish to. Find the location of the schools in the area, especially which high school zone your property is in. Do you know which major supermarkets are in your suburb?

T is for transport. In addition to proximity to schools and shops, many people wish to be near public transport. They may not use it often but it is good to know that it is nearby. Find out how far it is the nearest train station and what are the nearby bus/tram/ferry routes.

U is for utilities. If you are selling your own home or an investment property, ensure that you know who the electricity and gas retailers are so that you/tenant can have a final reading of the meter, account names changed or possibly the supply disconnected. A final reading of the water meter is especially important, if you are charging the tenant for water use.

V is for value. Before you put your property on the market, you need to have an idea of the value of your property. The best way to do this is to find out what other comparable properties have sold for. The most common mistake vendors make is that they over value their property, ask an unrealistic high selling price and then wonder why it is taking so long to sell. In this current market where properties are taking a very long time to sell, your asking price shouldn’t be more than 1% above its market value.

W is for wait. You will find that you are very busy in the lead up to putting your property on the market. This includes finding trades people/handymen, doing minor repairs, updating, finding a conveyancer/solicitor and picking the right agent. Once all this activity is over, all you can do is wait. Be patient, your property won’t sell overnight but if it is priced and presented correctly, you should have an offer within four weeks. If you haven’t had an offer within this time period and you are keen to sell, you need to seriously consider dropping your price.

X is for x-factor. Identify one element of your house that stands out and make sure you and the agent highlight this, in the marketing and at open for inspections. It could be a water feature, feature wall, new kitchen.

Y is for yahoo, the sound you make once settlement has occurred and the money is in the bank.

Z is for zest. Selling your house can be tiring as it needs to be presented in a “picture perfect” state at all times. Living in a home whilst you’re trying to sell can be very trying. Try and keep up your energy levels and those of the family as the rewards are worth it. A very well presented property can add $1,000 to the final price.

• Written by Peter Koulizos, university lecturer, author and buyers advocate. Peter will be presenting “The Essentials of Property Investment Seminar” on Tuesday 21st August, 6.30pm at The Vibe Hotel Sydney Central.

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