As property investors, sometimes we can get so caught up in the idea of expanding our portfolio that we forget that occasionally its time to sell.
To get the best return possible, we need to present our homes beautifully, so buyers are scrambling over one another to make an offer.
When preparing a home for sale, you need to place yourself in the buyer’s shoes. Remember what it was like when you bought the home. What appealed to you most? Obviously as property investors we’re not focused on the emotional aspects of home ownership - we invest by the numbers - however we’re not totally blind to the amenities of a property either.
Read through the following tips and strategies for boosting your home’s appeal to prospective buyers.
1. Clean your house
A good thorough cleaning is vital. You can do it yourself, or even better, hire professional cleaners to get into every nook and cranny. If you trust the judgment of your property manager (if you don’t, why is he managing your property?) ask him to recommend a reliable cleaning service.
2. Do minor repair work
Repair any problems within the home, and repaint anything outside that needs a little bit of touchup.
Now I’m not talking about going over the top or overcapitalising, but if you’ve got some blemishes on your home you need to fix them. Pay attention to every last detail - I can assure you that the buyers will!
3. Spruce it up
A good, fresh coat of paint will do wonders for your home. It can bring life back and it doesn’t need to be expensive. In fact you can do most of this stuff yourself.
Who can’t go to Bunnings, get a roller and some paint and do a weekend’s worth of hard work? You could get a good return on your sweat equity.
4. Hose it down
Use a high-pressure hose on your home, really giving it a good fresh spray. You’ll be absolutely astounded with how fresh and clean it could look, once you’ve actually done it. Once you’ve done this you’ll be able to easily spot any areas that may need attention.
5. Prepare to stand out
When someone walks into your house that you’re presenting for sale, you want to amaze them. You want your house to shine - to stand out from the crowd. You can draw attention to your home by paying close attention to its exterior. This is, of course, the first thing that a prospective buyer will see so it must be memorable.
Weeds should be eliminated, any broken or missing brickwork replaced, pot plants must be in good order and any peeling paint eliminated.
I know you probably had the carpets professionally cleaned or even cleaned them yourself, but don’t make everyone who comes into your home take off their shoes.
Most Australians wear shoes in their homes and it can aggravate people when the agent tells them they have to take off their shoes and said shoes are quickly buried under the pile that follows. It’s really not practical when a typical open house sees scores of visitors.
If you’ve got 30 people at an open home and they’re all taking off their shoes it just throws the home into a little bit of chaos. You want a calm environment and you want to create a good mood for the purchasing.
7. Toss it!
Clutter has got to go. If you’ve got kids, or a clutter inducing hobby, then you’ve got extra bits and pieces around. Do yourself a favour and get it out of the house. Rent a storage shed (or the garage/attic of a really good friend) for a month if you must, put your stuff in boxes and just make the home look simple, fresh and available to the next person.
If your property is tenanted, you can request that tenants store their personal items. However, it may be best to show your property once it’s vacant.
Position your furniture in a way that can help make the rooms appear larger if you can. It just may shorten the time your home is on the market and it may even get you your asking price!
Another good thing to do is to remove your personal artifacts. You don’t necessarily want a “shrine” of you on the wall - it looks a bit creepy to a lot of people, so take it down and let people visualise themselves in your home.
If the property is vacant, hire a home staging professional. The right furniture can turn an older home into a gorgeous, modern house.
9. Before the showing
Your window dressings should be clean and your windows sparkling. You want to let in as much natural light as possible, however pay attention to rooms where sunlight can quickly heat it up. You want the home to remain a comfortable temperature.
Use fragrance to appeal to buyers’ senses by using either great flowers, freshly brewed coffee and/or organic produces in the kitchen.
Make sure the light bulbs are working. When people walk into a home the first thing they do is start-pressing lights. If a light switch doesn’t work, someone will make an issue of it at the open home. Sometimes these small things will put other investors off.
There is always one guy that comes to an open home to try sabotage it. He’s got an idea of purchasing it himself so he’ll point out any dysfunction within the house whatsoever. Don’t give him the chance to ruin your showing!
10. Online presentation
In addition to a detailed description of your property, your online listing should include plenty of pictures taken at complementary angles. Don’t attempt to use photo-enhancing software to deceive potential buyers - this will most certainly not work in your favour and you may even find yourself in litigation.
If the pictures were taken in poor lighting you can attempt to lighten them up through image manipulation, however it’s best to take pictures in good lighting at a high resolution whenever possible.
Provide as much information as possible buy don’t give away the store. The idea is to pique a potential home buyer’s curiosity and encourage them to come see your home.
Sam Saggers is CEO of Positive Real Estate and Head of the buyers agency which annually negotiates $250 million-plus in property. Sam's advice is sought-after by thousands of investors including many on BRW’s Rich 200 list. Additionally Sam is a published author and has completed over 2000 property deals in the past 15 years plus helped mentor over 2200 Australian investors to real estate success!
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Disclaimer: while due care is taken, the viewpoints expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Your Investment Property.