By Allison Tait, ninemsn Finance
When the sun shines, the flowers open and the air heats up, you know spring is in the air. In the real estate game, the sun shines, the doors open and the market heats up as sellers put their properties on the market. But is spring really the best time to sell?
"Spring is a fantastic time for buyers, because people are motivated," says Philip Thomas, managing director of Montek and author of Profit from Property (Wiley).
"But it may not work well for all sellers. It depends on the property. Sometimes putting your property on the market at a less-optimal time works better because there's not a lot of competition, which can work for you."
Adam Guthrie, principal of Adam Guthrie Lifestyle Property (www.adamguthrie.com.au), believes that prospective sellers need to research their markets.
"If you ask me the best time to sell a property in our area [south coast of NSW], I'd say June-July," he says. "Our statistics show this to be a time of high transaction rates, with the least competition."
Other spikes occur around February and September-October which is why Guthrie recommends asking potential agents if they have that information for your area as local knowledge goes a long way.
Thomas agrees but adds that the keys for creating value in the market are:
- quality; and
"If you have a property that's really appealing and there's not a lot of competition, you'll do well regardless of when you sell," Guthrie says.
Maximising your sale
Guthrie and Thomas agree that presentation is everything when it comes to selling property. A professional clean, to ensure everything is glossy, gleaming and shining, from the skirting boards to the windows, is essential. How much you do after that is up to you and your budget.
Thomas suggests focusing initially on decluttering minimum furniture makes a big difference and kerbside appeal.
"First impressions are important," he says. "Give the front fence a quick coat of paint or replace it if it's a wreck. Add planting around it, and give paths, pavers, driveway and front walls a water blast to clean them. It's a simple thing but it can really lift the outside of a property."
When it comes to deciding whether you need to go the whole hog and hire furniture to dress your home, Thomas suggests doing some market research.
"Look at the presentation of other properties that you're competing with," he says. "How are they presenting? It doesn't have to cost a lot, but you'll be amazed at how much difference small changes can make."
The trouble is, that buyers are much savvier when it comes to the tricks used to sell houses. Baking bread and playing soft music no longer have quite the same effect. Or do they?
"Buyers will still fall in love," Guthrie says. "That's what it's all about. People ideally want the lifestyle that the see in magazines. They want a property that looks like that, and the ones that do well are presented like they're in a magazine."
Whether your home is a candidate for House & Garden or not, presenting a clean, uncluttered, coordinated space will allow potential buyers to fall in love.
He also recommends that you ensure that any additions are council approved, to make the transaction simpler, and getting a building and pest inspection done.
"There are two reasons for this," Guthrie says. "First, if there's something wrong, you can fix it. If you don't want to fix it, you can let buyers know and there are no surprises. Most sales fall over at the building and pest inspection stage, and that's bad news. Know what's there."
How to choose an agent
For Thomas, they key is not to choose your agent on price. "At the end of the day, choosing the cheapest agent might save you $1000 or $2000, but by not choosing the best agent for your property, you might lose $5000 or more on the sale," he says. "Negotiate fees after you've decided who'll do the best job for your properties."
Thomas suggests looking to see which agents have sold the most properties in your area over a 12-month period (easily done by researching sold properties on the real estate websites). "Make sure you meet three agents and work out which one connects with you best," he says. "If they connect with you really well, they'll connect with others well."
Guthrie believes that marketing is key so find out how a potential agent will handle it.
"Photography is vital," he says. "You must have a good photographer who understands light and styling and how to capture the feel of a property. So many enquiries come through a website or print advertising and if the photographs aren't attractive and high quality, people will skip your property and go to the next."
Guthrie says good photography might cost a bit extra, but will be worth it.
"The other thing to ask your agent is how they track enquiries," he says. "How do they know which source has drawn the enquiry? Is it print, internet? Where's it coming from? If ads are not working, you need to change your tack."
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