Selling a property is stressful especially if you’ve haven’t had much interest. Here are some things to consider if you want to put up that “Sold” sign
You watched with excitement when the real estate company put the “For Sale” sign up outside your home, and looked at the online photographs and video. You’ve kept everything immaculate for the open homes and yet … months later there have been only a few nibbles from buyers — or maybe you’ve had none at all.
It’s disheartening and very stressful to take a property to market and have it languish on the shelf, especially if you have already made plans for the next stage of your life.
It’s time for a reality check — the market has slowed in many parts of the country but there are still lots of successful sales and a shortage of good stock in many desirable areas. Here are some things you need to consider if you want to put up that “Sold” sign.
1. Look at the market
Sit down with your real estate agent and have an honest heart-to-heart about the feedback they are getting from buyers. Run through the complete sales campaign to date – how many groups have attended all the open homes, how many repeat views have you had, what has been the feedback on the property and, most important, buyers’ reaction to price indications.
Once you have analysed all this information do some solid research of your own. Check out other similar properties for sale in your area. Visit open homes and get a feel for your competition. How does your property compare in presentation, special features and price guides? Find out what is the average time properties are taking to sell in your area, and for how much.
You need to gather all this information and review every aspect of your campaign, assess how your agent has been performing and look at what you should adjust to appeal to the market.
2. Market expectations
Vendors often fall into the trap of saying, “I need X amount to sell my property and be able to move on.” You may very well have financial obligations that you need to fulfill, but they don’t necessarily have any bearing on what your property is actually worth in the current market.
Buyers will meet the market, but if your expectations are out of step with the prices similar houses are fetching you could be waiting for a sale for a long time. Have you been rejecting offers that your agent feels are reasonable?
Hanging out for a magic figure can be counterproductive, especially if the difference is not a large amount in a market that is currently generally down-gearing. Realistically review your price expectations and be prepared to make a compromise. If you can’t realise the figure you need to sell, you may have to assess whether selling at this time is the right decision to make.
3. Check your presentation
Did you put your house on the market in a hurry? Are there little cosmetic tweaks that can be made to smarten up the presentation? If you didn’t make a checklist before you put up the “For Sale” sign, now’s the time to take a hard look at the condition of your property. Often we get so used to our homes that we stop seeing little things that are immediately obvious to others and can affect how people react to your home. Tidy up the section, do some water blasting, paint the window sills, check the guttering, create an attractive outdoor entertaining area…there’s so much that can be done to smarten up an exterior.
Next move your attention inside. Ensure that all the positive features are highlighted and that the size of rooms and their use and flow to other areas are obvious. Maybe your de-clutter was not thorough enough. Review all the spaces with a critical eye and get a second opinion from someone you trust. Shabby curtains, oversized furniture, too many knick-knacks and family photos…they all need to go.
The popularity of home staging has really lifted buyers’ expectations of how a house should be presented. If you live in an area that offers these services, it may be time to consider this as an option. Even partial staging can make a huge difference and you have the benefit of an experienced and independent person looking over your property and making suggestions for other simple cosmetic tweaks that can enhance presentation.
4. Sales strategy
If you are happy with the way your agent has been handling the sale you need to get together and look at ways to refresh your property in the market. An auction or deadline sale can help to focus buyers if you have been selling by negotiation. Giving an “enquiries over” price guide can entice buyers to have a look if you have not given any price indication.
Review all your marketing material — if you’ve scrimped on quality photographs or don’t have a video, now’s the time to stump up for a really professional job that will do your property justice. Most buyers will spend significant time looking online before they go to an open home.
If you haven’t had a print campaign, look at doing some advertising in specialist property magazines and local newspapers. If you are in a desirable area a letterbox drop of a classy flyer may help — people may not be actively searching but may be considering up- or downsizing, or will let friends and family know who may be interested in moving to the area.
5. Review your options
You may decide that your real estate agent is not performing as well as you had expected. Make sure you review documents you signed on listing the property with an agent before you make any changes. Take time to thoroughly check out agencies before appointing a replacement. You may want to consider taking the property off the market for a while and relisting in another season.
Try to bear in mind that buying a property is a major transaction. Make it easy for buyers to see your home’s pluses, listen to feedback and be willing to reconsider your strategy. Most important of all try to stay positive and be willing to compromise where appropriate – things like a slightly reduced price, longer settlement dates, etc, can make a big difference to some buyers.
Photography by: Patrick Reynolds, Simon Devitt, Tom Hollow/Hollow Creative, Nicola Edmonds, Helen Bankers /bauersyndication.com.au