Property Advice

The Flip Side: How to market and sell your house for maximum profit

It’s time to reap the benefits of your hard work

Now that you’ve spent weeks, possibly months, transforming an underwhelming dwelling into an attractive home, how can you draw people inside to view the house? Can you reap the benefits of your hard work? Now it’s all about selling your house as quickly as possible for a high price by marketing it expertly.

Home staging

Some may wonder whether home staging your house is worth it – will it attract potential buyers? Couldn’t you stage it yourself? Christchurch house flipper Ami Muir believes in paying as much as possible for home staging, saying it’s the best bang for your buck when it comes to marketing your home.

You get what you pay for says Ami. “You can go with low-cost home stagers, but by using a more expensive stager, your whole house will look completely different – one hundred times better with the right furniture in it. It adds to the impression people get when they walk through the door. I always spend more on staging than less.”

Tyge Dellar from Demo to Reno stages every home he flips, knowing it looks better with furniture rather than sitting empty, and he uses different staging companies for each flip to cater for each house style. Each staging company has its selection of furniture and, with each house, he has an idea of what he wants to go for, whether it is a beachy or a Hamptons feel. “Depending on what we are trying to achieve, the result will determine the furniture,” says Tyge. “We make sure the staging matches the home.”

How to choose a real estate agent

Once your house is staged, how do you choose who will sell it? Ami tries various agents, often considering the buyer’s personality and needs to determine the best agent. “If I’m thinking of a family moving in, I choose an agent who works best with families.”

You may prefer an agent who simply knows the area well, as Wellington house flippers Ana Ochkas-Hulena and her husband Nigel Hulena do. Ana suggests finding an agent you trust, like to deal with and who knows the area you are selling and buying in thoroughly. “The agent we use sells the majority of the houses in our area. We always keep in touch, even when we aren’t actively buying or selling, to keep the relationship going. Ask friends and family for advice on who they use. It’s good to know who people have found good and who to steer clear of.”
Tyge shares Ana’s viewpoint, preferring to look for an agent in the area the house is in and see who is at the top of their game there. “We’ve made mistakes by using an agent from one area to market a house in another,” Tyge says. “It wasn’t beneficial, even though we had a good relationship with them.”

How much should I spend on marketing my home?

Ami sticks to the same-sized marketing budget for each property, opting to use Trade Me, and remarketing instead of an agent. “I also make sure I have a big sign on the section featuring internal photos rather than a small For Sale sign.”

Ana’s marketing is built into the real estate agent’s cost, she says, and she goes on the agent’s advice. Tyge’s marketing budget comes down to the agent, what they want to do and how urgently you want a sale. “For instance, will they put ads in the newspaper and magazines for you? There are several ways they can market it. If you want to go basic, then you can just cover Trade Me. Marketing with an agent can be around $3000-$5000, but in a good market, you don’t have to do too much.”

Do you need a strict time frame from on-sale to sold?

The shorter the time frame, the better, Ami says, because your house costs you every day you own it. “I use a very tight timeline. A quick renovation would be four weeks – I do everything fast.”

If it’s a seller’s market, Ana says, she and Nigel are happier to wait for a potentially better price, but in a buyer’s market, you can’t afford to muck around or you might potentially lose your buyer.  “Determine what you’re doing. If you run at auction or by negotiation, an auction can be a three to four-week campaign then, from that point go unconditional,” Tyge says. “It can be determined between vendor and purchaser, ideally two weeks. The time from going on the market to money in the bank should be five to six weeks.”

What are the best ways to sell – auction or deadline?

When there’s less certainty of the price you might get, perhaps it’s an increasing market and everything is going for prices nobody can understand, Ami says it’s best to go to auction. “In a quiet market, if you can price it competitively, that’s a good idea, then hope for multiple offers,” she says. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all formula.”

Ana agrees how you sell depends on the market: “In a hot market, we use tenders, and when it’s slow, price by negotiation or BEO (buyer enquiry over) is what seems to work best.” Tyge avoids selling by deadline, always choosing auctions, which can be done two ways. “You can have an auction on site, which we generally always have as we like the idea of people coming for a final look and a potential push from the purchaser, or you can do it from the agent’s offices.”

What your home doesn’t sell?

Should you rent it out or try again in a few months? Ami suggests dropping the price to when it will go and moving on to the next home.

Setting a price at the asking price and putting it out there for another month or so, and seeing what happens is what Tyge advises. “Generally, you get people coming to put in an offer, but it comes down to your cash flow. We hung onto one of our last properties for six months, but it did cost us a lot of interest in payment, but renting wasn’t an option. If it’s possible to tenant it out and wait, then it’s an option.” A lot of house flippers need to turn cash flow around, and sometimes you need to decide to take a loss and move on rather than being stuck, he says.

Ana and Nigel tend to make this decision before they start the renovation. “The last house we bought we have decided to hold until we see what happens with the market, so instead
of a full-on renovation, we just painted, added new carpet and got it up to Healthy Homes standard. Fortunately, we have sold our homes quickly and have not had to worry about this.”

Text Catherine Steel


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