BY PAM WALKLEY
MONEY MAGAZINE, APRIL EDITION
If it looks great you’ll get a good price, says Pam Walkley
How important it is to present your home in its best light when you are selling was highlighted in a recent episode of LifeStyle Channel’s Selling Houses Australia, when a home attracted offers more than $200,000 above those made before it was cleaned up and repaired. When Roy tried to sell his two-bedroom semi on a decent-sized block in the inner-west Sydney suburb of Ashbury he got offers of only around $350,000 – low when the suburb median price is around $760,000.
But it’s not surprising if you saw footage of the interior of
the house showing it crammed floor to ceiling with “stuff” because Roy was a hoarder who found it hard to throw anything away. Not even a kitchen bench was visible.
A few weeks later buyers were willing to pay more than $570,000. This was after SHA host Andrew Winter and his crew dispatched five skiploads of rubbish to the tip and two removalist trucks full of boxes to a storage unit; overhauled the interior and garden; and furnished the home in minimalist style. It was not disclosed exactly how much was spent, but it would not have been anywhere near the $220,000 extra that buyers were willing to part with.
This is an extreme case but it illustrates the rewards for spending time, effort and money. This is especially important when buyers have the upper hand, as they have now in many areas.
Money reader Greg, who is selling his home in the inner-west Sydney suburb of Dulwich Hill, says presenting the house well is proving to be “worth a fortune”. He and his wife decluttered the house and hired a storage unit for the duration of their sales campaign. They painted the entire house white, put in a concrete driveway, repaired tiles and steps at the entrance and manicured the garden. All up this cost about $4800. About six months ago they spent about $5000 building a new retaining wall and front fence. Earlier they renovated the kitchen, sticking to a tight budget.
Has it been worth it? They certainly think so, as two weeks out from auction they have already received an offer at the top price they hoped to achieve, and there are several other potential buyers in the wings (and this is a tough market!). The offer is $200,000 more than a similar-sized house a street away sold for recently. It had been marketed empty of furniture and with a kitchen that needed updating.
“Furniture is important too; houses look terrible empty,” says Greg. “We did not use a stylist but our agent, who was excellent, was happy with our furniture and artwork.”
Of course, not everyone has the energy, so hiring a stylist can be worthwhile. If you go the DIY route, listen to your agent, as sometimes it’s hard to view your own home dispassionately. I was once told by a stylist that my house was not as clean as it should be. I felt a bit insulted but got over it when as a result of this advice – and a number of other pointers – my home sold before auction at above my reserve price.
Other good advice was to take pictures of all my rooms and objectively assess how they stacked up against the competition online. To make sure your home smells good, give it the sniff test. Enlist a friend and tell them to be brutally honest, particularly if you are a smoker or have animals. Try to style your house so it looks up-to-date. This can be done cheaply by just adding some accessories in current colours.
Property Focus With Lisa Montgomery
With so many natural disasters over the past 12 months, borrowers have reason to review levels of property insurance.
To determine if your insurance arrangements meet your needs, consider how you would cope financially if something happened to you or your property and to what extent you want to be covered for the impact of natural disasters and other events.
If your existing policy doesn’t appear adequate, it’s clearly time to put something better in place. Remember, one of the most common experiences around insurance is that you don’t find out exactly what you’re covered for until you need it.
All too often we hear about home owners not being aware of specific clauses in insurance contracts that preclude their property from being covered for damage.
The good news is it’s now relatively easy to shop around online and compare the range of insurances and their specific features. Home and contents, mortgage protection and landlords insurance are all designed to protect your property in different ways. It’s up to you to determine what you need to keep you financially protected in any event.
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