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by Naomi Findlay

Though your house may look and feel good to you, it won’t necessarily to others, regardless of what your friends tell you. Here’s 10 of the most common blunders people make when presenting their home for the market. Sometimes it’s the details that let you down, other times, it’s so obvious you simply can’t see it yourself.

Remember it’s essential to appeal to the widest possible cross-section of your target market, and don’t fall into these simple, very common traps.

1. No house number

This seems like such a minor detail, but it’s essential!

Not only should you make sure you have a house number, it should be easily visible, in good repair and in keeping with the feel of the home. The last thing you want is a buyer’s experience of your property starting in frustration because they were unable to locate it.

2. Polarising linen

In a bedroom, the bed is generally the largest piece of furniture and the focal point of the space. Hence the linen and the dressing of the bed can have a huge impact on the way people feel about that room. Make sure that your linen is neutral and mainstream.

3. Too much furniture

It is essential to remember that when a home is open for inspection, in many case there are multiple parties viewing the property at any one time. Too much furniture will make a room feel smaller than it is. Space furniture out, and remove it temporarily if you have to. Allow for lots of foot traffic, good flow through the house for potential buyers, and walk common paths to check for obstacles.

4. Pet smells

Research tells us that one of the biggest factors that impact negatively on a potential buyer are pet smells and mess. Many property owners do work very hard on removing all smells and evidence of furry friends, however it is difficult to completely eradicate when you are accustomed to the smell on a daily basis. Ideally you need to get a friend who does not own pets to inspect your property and be brutally honest with you!

5. Heavy window coverings

Heavy window coverage can turn buyers off. Leaving heavy window coverings in place can make a room feel dark and cluttered. I often see older homes with multiple heavy drapes that contribute directly to making the room feel small, dark and cold. In these cases they have to go, if the window condition and outlook permits. Getting the balance right between privacy, style, mood and light is important.

6. Cleanliness

Another huge mistake by sellers is assuming that the buyers can look past an unswept floor or dirty bathroom. When the mess and dirt is not their own, many buyers find it to be an extreme turn-off. Remember you’re used to the way your property looks, but others will be seeing it for the very first time. You may have long since stopped seeing how much dirt is around. Get someone other than yourself to give it a once over.

7. Selling a house empty

Empty rooms appear smaller and are uninviting to the potential buyer. The only thing you want to leave for the buyer to imagine is themselves in the home. Take control over how your property is viewed and perceived and add thought starters to help buyers see themselves there, living the life they want.

8. Over-decluttering

There is a fine line between a well staged home and a home that has been decluttered to the point of being vast and empty. Once the line has been crossed, the space is no longer inviting and appealing, instead it is cold and sterile. We’re all working so hard to declutter, that sometimes we can take it too far. Again, get a hand from someone who can cast an objective eye. You want your property to portray an ideal lifestyle that a buyer aspires to, and that includes a bit of heart and soul.

9. Setting the table

Setting the table with a full dinner setting passes over that fine line of styled and goes into the overstaged look! It runs the risk of turning the buyer off and the table setting being the most memorable aspect of the property; certainly not what a successfully staged home wants! There are so many more subtle ways to create a welcoming and “lived in” feel. Potential buyers shouldn’t feel pressure to take their seats.

10. Roadside collections and rubbish runs

Roadside collections are a wonderful service and really come in handy when you are cleaning up and preparing your property for sale, however it is essential that the roadside collection period does not overlap in any way with the property going on the market. The last thing potential buyers should have to see or navigate is mountains of rubbish on your footpath or near to your property. Organise it well clear of inspections and manage rubbish disposal so the smell or sight never hits a newcomer.

Preparing to sell your home is a stressful and complicated process. From making the decision to sell to actually listing that property for sale can take weeks, months or even years, and then there’s the sales process itself to get through before you’ll see that SOLD sticker across the sales board.

We’ve tried to take some of the pain away with this checklist of what you need to think about when preparing to sell your property.

1. Make the decision to sell

Anything can prompt a sale – from needing a change of scenery to upsizing, downsizing, financial worries, or changing your investment strategy. While some months are more popular for sales than others, there is no one size fits all “right” time to sell a property.

Consider what is happening in the broader market and what is best for your particular situation. For example, if you’re an owner occupier you need to decide if you are better off buying a new home before or after you sell your current home.

2. Prepare your property

Have a big tidy up and complete any outstanding maintenance and repairs. Make sure your property is looking its best inside and out. Maybe you just need to clean and declutter. Make sure to consult a property expert before making any major changes to ensure they will pay off in any sale and that you’re not over capitalising.

3. Choose an agent

Your agent will be in charge of marketing, advertising and showing the property and completing the legal requirements of selling your property, so choose carefully.

Prospective agents will usually appraise your property and provide you with a comparative market analysis (CMA). Interview several agents who have experience in your local area before making a decision, and don’t be swayed by personal relationships – selling your house is strictly business.

Once all the details have been finalised you’ll sign a legally binding contract with your agent that will outline any commissions, the estimated sale price, duration of the agreement, advertising costs etc.

4. How to sell

You need to decide what sales process – auction or private treaty – is going to be best for your property. Your agent can advise you on the current market and area trends.

You and your agent will need to work out a plan for listing and selling your property. For instance, do you want to have week and weekend open homes or by appointment only? Will you go to auction, issue a price range guide, or ask for offers?

5. Determine your selling price

You may have your property valued by an expert, who will assess its location, size, age and any extra features it has, and your agent can guide you on similar sales in the area and market conditions.

6. Prepare the contract of sale

Your lawyer or conveyancer will need to prepare a contract of sale for the property. This will include all of the details prospective purchasers will need including details of the owners, title, settlement dates, all conditions of the sale and what is included in it (for example, carpet, furnishings), as well as zoning certificate and sewer diagrams.

7. Marketing your property

Marketing your property includes online and offline promotion and advertising. This involves photographing your property, drawing up floor plans and agreeing your marketing schedule. You can choose from a range of online ads to help drive more enquiries and spread the word. Offline you might want print ads, a sales board outside the property, flyers, and an ad in the real estate window.

8. Going on the market

Prospective buyers will contact your agent and arrange times to view your property, or attend the open homes at the times you have agreed with your agent.

9. Negotiation or auction

Your agent will mediate between you and any buyer to reach a mutually acceptable price. Once you have accepted an offer or sold at auction, your conveyancer will begin preparing the final contract documents and the buyer will pay a deposit.

10. Under contract

Before settlement, both seller’s and buyer’s lawyers and banks will work out the details of the sale to ensure both parties meet all legal and financial requirements.

11. Settlement day

All going to plan, on settlement day you’ll relinquish the keys and legal rights to your property in exchange for the balance of payment from the buyer or their bank. You will have then sold your home.

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