Masterclass: How to get the best price for your property

SANDY MORRIS , ACT

As the ACT’s most recommended agent, Sandy has helped hundreds of clients achieve the best price for their property. She goes the extra mile in marketing & presentation, and gets great outcomes thanks to her commitment to the vendor, negotiation expertise and patience.


What I want you to learn from this class

Introduction
How to add value
What lessens value
When to sell
Your real estate agent
What I can’t teach you here
One last thing

Introduction

Getting the best price is the main sale requirement of most vendors, as it can make a big difference to their wealth. Achieving the highest possible sale price enables vendors to make a much better purchase of subsequent property or to use the money for whatever the next stage of their life may hold. As there are some simple steps to achieving a much better property price, why not take them?

“Present your property in a way that generates an immediate emotional connection”

How to add value

To improve the value of the property itself, key actions that should be taken in most cases are to:

  • Concentrate on those things that visually detract from the property. You do not need to spend a fortune getting your home ready for market but do simple tasks like decluttering and disposing of items that you have no intention of taking with you when you move. Taking away photographs is a good way of allowing prospective buyers to imagine themselves living in the property. Wash walls, clean windows and carpets and if you are fortunate enough to have a garage then by all means fill it with items from inside the home to create more space. Also, mow the lawns and tidy the gardens to provide positive first impressions.
  • Fix the small stuff. Most prospective purchasers will want a building inspection if one has not been completed already. Think about this and what it will find and if there are small things you can fix such as leaking taps, doors that don’t close properly, cracked tiles on the roof, etc. Attending to these prior to the inspection shines a much better light on the property and makes the home more appealing to prospective purchasers and in turn increases the final sale price.

If you are willing and able to spend more time or money on presenting the property in its best light, also consider:

  • Making minor renovations or improvements that add value at minimal cost. This can range from adding a coat of paint, putting inexpensive carpet in bedrooms, hiring a gardener to spruce up the yards, updating shower screens, vanities and taps to the bathrooms for a more modern look, updating cooktops and ovens if they are tired and dated, and consider adding a split system to a living area if there is inadequate heating or cooling.
  • Styling furniture and fittings. Start by removing excess furniture as this provides an illusion of space and a more free-flowing look for your home. For many of my clients, I provide items such as cushions, bedspreads, lamps and various decorations to improve the presentation of their property. Your agent should be able to advise minor changes to improve the furniture and fittings or recommend a professional stylist to fully or partially style the home.
  • Getting approvals done. Often the conveyancing lawyer will advise a buyer not to proceed with a purchase without approval of major items such as plumbing, removal of internal load-bearing walls and pool fencing. It is often worth getting this underway so there are no hold-ups once a buyer has been found, ensuring there are no delays to exchange.

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What lessens value

Apart from not completing the items listed above, another issue that will lessen the value of the home is setting the wrong asking price from the outset. It is stating the obvious that every seller is keen to get the best possible sale price but if you set an unrealistic asking price and leave it there for a prolonged period, prospective purchasers will think there is something wrong with the property, when in actual fact it is only that you are not meeting the market.

In a very buoyant market such as the one we are in at present in the ACT, you will know very quickly if your asking price is with the market by the number of people coming through the home and feedback from those that have visited the property.

It is especially important that your agent gets this feedback and you listen to the market. In less buoyant markets, don’t fixate on what you paid for the property and not selling at a loss. Buyers don’t care and will only offer what is best for themselves, so it often better to move on quickly and make a better investment next time around.

Needing to sell quickly can also lessen value. In this regard buying another property before selling your own can be very risky. You may not be able to immediately sell your property at the price you expected, so will have to choose between incurring additional finance fees or selling for less to avoid these fees. So be wary of buying before selling and leave a buffer in your finances in case your property does sell for less than you anticipated.

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When to sell

For obvious reasons, if possible, sell in a sellers’ market. That is when there are more buyers than sellers and positive sentiment.

Often the simplest thing is to counter the prevailing seasonal trends and sell in Winter when there are fewer properties for sale. Most people tend to put their property on the market in the Spring because there are more people out and about and gardens look better in the warmer months. Trouble with this is your garden may look better but so does that of everyone else. As a rule, about 30 percent more stock is on the market in the Spring and Summer months. We certainly have smaller numbers of buyers through open homes in the Winter months, but the quality of the buyer is better – who is going to go through open homes in Winter unless they are a serious buyer. Beat the Spring rush and consider selling in Winter.

Generally though, it is usually better to sell at a time that best suits your personal needs. Work, family and lifestyle issues will often dictate the most suitable time to sell, and it is difficult to accurately predict changes in property markets and how this will impact your financial return. This is particularly the case if you are purchasing in a significantly different market (area or property type). If you are purchasing in a similar market then the price impact on the property you are buying should also be similar, which reduces the need to try and time the market.

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Your real estate agent

Always my first piece of advice for a seller is to choose an agent you can work with and trust with your most valuable asset. I say to my vendors, it is a short but quite intense relationship and there is a lot of trust involved. You need to feel that whatever your agent advises you to do it is because it is in your best interest. Sellers need to heed to recent referrals, testimonials and major agent review websites and not be influenced to choose agents who quote the cheapest fee or quote the highest prospective sale price. It is important to remember it is the overall result that matters – sale price minus costs.

In assessing agents’ testimonials and reviews, consider comments on their personal characteristics around integrity and trust and on their professional skills around knowledge of property issues and sale processes. Of course, marketing is crucial to maximising the final sale price, so gain assurance that the agent has superior marketing approaches.

When choosing an agent, also test their conversation skills. Do they have personality, can they build rapport by finding common interests, do they seem likeable? Are they effective communicators who will be able to connect with buyers and negotiate the best sale price for you? Together with the testimonials and reviews, this will help you select an agent that you like and trust.

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What I can’t teach you here

There are so many things to consider when selling your home and every case is a little different. It is extremely important to remember that the end result will be determined by your understanding of what most prospective buyers are looking for and your capacity to present your property in a way that generates an immediate emotional connection for them. Your agent should be best placed to help with this.

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One last thing

In my view, the two most important factors in making sure you get the best price for your property are:

  • that you don’t have to spend a fortune in getting the home ready for market but by putting in a little effort you can dramatically increase the final selling price; and
  • being careful in choosing an agent. There is so much trust involved in the sale of a home and you want to make sure you are working with someone that is doing everything to get you the best possible sale price.

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