Everybody has a different idea of what makes a buyer fall instantly in love, but should you really be baking bread? Does there really need to be the aroma of coffee wafting through the hallway? And would these things really make you fall under some sort of buyers’ spell anyway?
Let’s take a step back and think about what’s really important to a buyer.
For starters, nobody is going to be convinced to buy your home because you chose the perfect bunch of flowers and baked the perfect loaf of bread. In reality, there are seven factors influencing your buyer. As long as your property suits their fundamental requirements and you get these factors right, you have every chance of tugging at their heartstrings - and that’s what makes the difference between a slow sale and a buyer keen to close a deal.
Tip 1: Timing
Timing is everything in real estate. Think a little less about whether it’s better to sell in winter or summer and more about the specifics of your property at different times of the day.
For example, do you live in an area where traffic gets really busy at 3 pm or there’s a clearway that would make it hard for people to park? Then before you hire an agent, discuss your firm requirement that your home will never be shown at that time.
Do you live in a west facing apartment on the top floor of a building and your apartment is exposed to hot sun for a couple of hours a day? Then don’t emphasise this by planning late afternoon open for inspections. Do you live near a flight path? Well it wouldn’t be best if QF1 flew overhead just as your buyer was walking up to the front door. Think about how can you minimise the negative elements that might distract or disappoint a buyer. Remember, no property is perfect but don’t shoot yourself in the foot by immediately highlighting any of your property’s weaknesses.
Think about things such as where the light is best in your home at different times of day, and project your planning forward to the time when your home will be on the market. It would be ideal if light streams into your living space just as your home is opened for inspection.
Naturally, the seasons can and should be considered in the timing of your sale, but not everybody has the freedom to choose exactly when he or she’ll sell. There’s a widely held perception that winter isn’t the best time to sell but, once again, the reality is a little different. Supply and demand is the single biggest factor that will influence the success of your sale. In winter, there are often fewer properties available for buyers to choose between. This means there’s a better chance your home will attract interest from more than one buyer at the same time. This increases the motivation of a buyer to buy quickly and gives your agent more leverage during negotiations, which leads to a higher price every time. Sure, in the warmer months there are more people out looking to buy, but there are also more properties competing with yours for their attention.
Tip 2: First impressions
A well presented home says ‘welcome’. It doesn’t have to be a showroom but it should appear to be a comfortable, clean and well-organised place to live.
Your home will be just one of many on the market at any given time. You therefore must create as much appeal as possible. Experience shows that vendors who make an extra effort usually achieve a quicker sale and, in many cases, a higher price.
The property selling process typically starts several months before a property appears on the market. It’s necessary to look at your home through the eyes of a prospective buyer and determine what needs to be cleaned, painted, repaired and tossed out.
One of the subconscious factors that influence a buyer’s first impression, other than how your home looks as they approach your front door, is how it smells. This doesn’t mean you must burn clever candles or oil diffusers with vanilla or orange scents. It does mean your home needs to smell clean. In impression of cleanliness is one of the first factors that will give someone a sense of immediate ease and comfort. So, apart from ensuring your home is scrupulously clean, if you have pets, make sure your property is well aired and never leave pet bowls on display during an open home or private inspection appointment. As for kitty litter trays, should always be banned from public view!
With the kitchen, always ensure a tidy presentation. Clear the bench tops as much as possible, put away excess appliances and tidy electrical cords, and empty under-bench garbage cans. Unwashed plates or utensils left in the kitchen sink are a real turn off, as is a fully-loaded dishwasher that smells if somebody opens the door.
Ask yourself, if you were buying this home, what would you want to see and smell? The goal is to show a home that looks good, maximises space and creates as much demand as possible.
Tip 3: Declutter
While you’re cleaning, think about each room and what type of furniture really needs to be in it. Rooms look smaller when they’re crowded with sports equipment, excess furniture and general clutter. Clear out anything that’s not needed to create a feeling of spaciousness. And don’t forget your cupboards - keep them neat and not too full. This creates a perception that your home has plenty of storage space.
Ask friends and family if they can help store junk during your marketing campaign, or hire a storage unit.
Tip 4: Preparation
Make sure that all minor repairs are completed. Sticking doors and windows, loose doorknobs, faulty plumbing, peeling and cracked paint or faulty fly screens may affect your sale. Also, check roller or vertical blinds; are they retracting smoothly and are the cords tidied away safely so there’s no risk of small children getting tangled up?
Before commencing a marketing campaign, consider investing approximately $500 in your own building and pest inspection as well. This almost guarantees there can be no surprises when the time comes to accept an offer, following negotiations.
The greatest threat to an agreed verbal offer is the buyer subsequently discovering a building fault as they conduct their own building and pest inspection. This will result in one of two things – their offer being withdrawn or renegotiation of their former offer to a lower price.
Tip 5: Staging
A warm, comfortably heated home on cold days, particularly if you have an open replace, adds a feeling of cosiness. On a hot day, don’t forget to turn on the air conditioner or fan (or simply let the breeze flow through). You may also like to set the dining table or the outdoor setting to give your property a homely atmosphere.
Naturally, flowers do add a lovely touch to presentation but don’t go over the top. If you have flowers in your garden, make sure you use them before buying from a florist – or at least combine them with those you’ve purchased. It’s always better to trim foliage from your own garden to combine with flowers to create a floral display; this brings emphasis to the best attributes of your home and its garden.
In the bathroom, take a critical look at your towels. Now is the ideal time to buy a fresh set in a contemporary colour and do a little styling. Check the ceiling to make sure there are no signs of mould and make sure your shower screen is sparkling.
Silence is golden so turn off your radio or television during inspections, as they can create unwelcome distraction - or create the impression that you are indeed trying to create a distraction.
Tip 6: Let go…
Avoid staying inside your home while your agent is conducting a private appointment or open for inspection. Buyers sometimes feel they cannot openly discuss concerns or price expectations with your agent in your presence. Golden opportunities may therefore be lost. If it is necessary for you to stay at home, remember to be discreet. It’s important you’re courteous but try and remain a little removed and certainly don’t force conversation with a potential buyer. The purchaser wants to inspect your home - not pay a social call.
However, if you’re asked questions about the home, neighbours or the district, answer truthfully and concisely. The most important thing is to not be led into a discussion about the details of any transaction such as price or terms. This is best left to your real estate agent.
Sometimes a prospective purchaser may knock at your door, having seen your for sale or auction signboard. Don’t allow them to inspect your home without your agent being present. Simply say it’s not convenient right now and ask them to contact your agent to arrange an inspection. This is for your safety, security and to avoid being placed in the position of a potential negotiation.
Tip 7: Teamwork
You and your agent should always work as a team. This involves being upfront with your agent about any neighbourhood concerns, or anything you think might be wrong with your house or apartment building. No property is perfect but if your agent can make prospective buyers aware of any faults, then negotiations can be conducted in good faith and their impact is significantly lessened.
If you feel your agent has overlooked any important selling points, it’s essential that you immediately inform them. Your agent will certainly want to know if there’s a selling point that should be emphasised.
During an auction campaign, never discuss the feedback your agent provides about the campaign’s progress with your neighbours. As well meaning as they may seem, loose lips sink ships. It is strategically vital that your expectations and those of your agent are kept private and managed carefully.
While your agent must provide realistic indications to prospective buyers, nobody can predict an auction outcome. Many a successful campaign has been ruined when a vendor, with confidence buoyed by what may appear to be strong levels of interest, starts talking up the potential price too high prior to auction. News can rapidly spread, and if buyers begin to suspect that there will be an unrealistic level of competition, they could be discouraged from completing enquiries and consequently not be in a position to bid at your auction.
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