- Remember that first impressions last. The street appeal of your home is critical to the perception the prospective buyer will have of your house. In fact, many real estate agents will tell you that prospective buyers will often decide not to even look inside the house, based on their perception of the house from the street. So, stand out on the road and take an objective look at your home – do the gardens need tidied, trees trimmed, paintwork touched up, fence painted, house and roof washed? Most of these items can be attended to relatively cheaply, and can add enormously to the perceived value of your home.
- Inside your home, try and reduce clutter – a cluttered home will always seem smaller to a buyer, and will also make it harder for them to “picture” their own furniture and belongings in the home. Many homeowners wait until after they have sold their home and are soon to move out before they have their “garage sale” to get rid of un-needed belongings. Why not have this before putting the house on the market? It’s a great way to get rid of some of the clutter.
- If you have a lot of stuff that clutters up your home but you don’t want to get rid of it, consider moving it to a friend’s home while your is on the market, or putting it in commercial storage.
If your interior walls have marks, often these can be washed off – a much easier and cheaper alternative to re-painting. Pay attention to light switches and around door handles too – these are areas that are often a bit grubby but can be cleaned with regular household cleaners.
- Interior plants creat a fresh colourful feel to a home. They can be used to brighten an area, or improve the look of less-fashionable items such as a bathroom vanity. If you have plants already, make sure they are in top condition – trim dead leaves, use leaf polish, and make sure their containers are clean. New plants can be purchased cheaply (or hired), but don’t have too many, as they can add to clutter (see 2. above).
- Keep in mind that you may have prospective buyers from a variety of cultures and religions to view your house. Do a check of areas such as kids’ bedrooms and the garage to ensure there is nothing on show that is likely to cause offence.
- A good agent will give you written feedback of buyer perceptions of your home. Don’t take criticisms personally – every buyer has different tastes, and the same feature of your property (eg a large rear yard) can be seen as a benefit by one buyer (room for the kids to play) and a disadvantage by another (too much upkeep). Sometimes buyers are looking at a property that is beyond their budget, and will find things to criticise simply to hide the fact that they cannot afford it. Discuss buyer feedback with your agent. If there is a negative perception that is continually arising, look at ways of mitigating this. For example, if there is a repeated comment that the lounge seems small, see if you can reduce the amount of furniture in there to make the room look bigger.
Selling your home is often the biggest financial transaction you will be involved in, and usually the most stressful! Choosing a great real estate agent is critical to getting you the best deal available, and reducing the stress levels as much as possible. Here are some tips to finding the best agent for you:
- One of the best ways to select an agent is a referral from a family member or friend. Ask around the people you know, to see who has used an agent they could recommend.
- Always meet with the agent to make sure he/she is someone you feel you can trust and get along with. You will need a close working relationship with your agent to ensure a successful outcome, so someone who is both professional and approachable is essential.
- Ask about the feedback you will receive. You should look for an agent who will give you a weekly written report, and will make the time to sit down and discuss this report with you and answer any questions you may have.
- While you obviously want the best price for your home, don’t just choose the agent who gives you the highest estimate of what your house might sell for. Unfortunately, some agents will quote you a high price simply to get your listing. Look for an agent who will bring you information about the sales in your area, so that you can make an informed decision.
- Be wary of agents who say they will “guarantee” a price for your home. It is not the agent who determines the price of your home, it is the buyers in the marketplace. Once again, unfortunately some agents will “guarantee” a price simply to get an exclusive agency on your property.
- Also be wary of agents who say they don’t believe in advertising. Microsoft and McDonalds are two of the most well-known brands on the planet, and yet both companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on advertising. Why? Because advertising works. The key to getting the best price for your home is getting as many potential buyers through your property as possible, and an appropriate advertising strategy is essential in achieving this.
- A good agent will explain to you the different selling options available, their pros and cons, and which method he/she recommends for your property based on experience. But remember, you have to be comfortable with the method chosen, and the final decision is yours.