Selling at a Premium

Sometimes, a vendor can spend a small amount on their property for a huge return at sale time. Charyn Youngson from Houses to Impress talks about some of the improvements you can suggest to help your vendors get a premium price for their property.

All sellers want to know what their return on investment will be when they prepare their house for sale. Staging a home for sale is a sure-fire ay to give any property the competitive edge over other homes on the market. It improves the chances for a quick, and therefore more profitable, sale in any market. I don’t know any other way that people can invest a small sum of money in a short period of time and manage to get a return, sometimes 100 per cent, 200 per cent or, for some of my past clients, 1,000 per cent.

One of my clients invested $4,000 on some very minor repairs, plus we completely furnished his property (all in one day). His home was appraised by six (yes, I did say six) different real estate agents for $360,000 before he went to market with a four-week auction campaign. Twenty minutes into the first open and he had an offer for $400,000, which he promptly accepted! So an eight-hour makeover turned his $4,000 investment into a $40,000 return.

Cost Does Not Equal Value
In my book, cost does not equal value. Cost is what you pay for something, and value is what the market says the item is worth. The value of a pre-sale makeover is the desirability it creates for potential buyers, and is established by what other similar upgrades have added to the price of homes recently sold in a comparable area.

While some vendors can be put off by the thought of having to spend extra money before they sell, some of the simplest strategies I recommend are no cost or low cost in the big scheme of things.

Number 1 No Cost Strategy – Declutter!
As a home stager, I have often run into the treasured collection of decorative plates, figurines, or stuffed animals during a home staging consultation. This is the stuff your home staging client loves (or believes they can’t live without) but you know will look like clutter to potential buyers.

Then there are the collections of half-filled shampoo bottles, old toothbrushes, clothes they’ve grown out of and crafts projects. And if you’re at my grandmother’s house (or anyone else who was born or lived through the Great Depression), you’ll likely find dozens of bags of empty bags, strings, elastics and more!

The trouble with all this ‘stuff’ is that it distracts others from appreciating the house itself, and can easily cause a potential buyer to reject the property because they believe it’s too small. In any home staging project, we’re trying to portray the ideal lifestyle that could be had in this house. We want potential buyers to fall in love with the dream and aspire to live there.

Let’s face it, many people move because they feel over-crowded in their current homes. Looking at properties where almost every horizontal surface is covered with piles of stuff simply reminds them that they’ll be just as crowded in this property.

Believe me, space sells! Try motivating your client to live temporarily without some of their favourite things by pointing out that small ‘treasures’ may be stolen during an open house or showing. For their protection, it’s better to have these items safely stored away. And if they need help, recommend a professional organiser.

Number 2 No Cost Strategy – Clean
Some people put more effort into selling their car than their home, so I advise my clients to detail their home just like they would detail their car. Absolute deep cleaning throughout the house inside and out) is essential. There is nothing more off-putting to buyers than a dirty house!

Of course professional cleaners can be engaged to do a detailed clean if the vendors are just too busy, but honestly a bucket of warm water, some good quality cleaning products and cloths, a solid scrubbing brush and some elbow grease will ensure every surface in the house can  be tackled.

You can make it easy for your vendors by providing a checklist of interior and exterior surfaces that should be addressed. Here are a few to get you going:

  • Ceilings, lights and fans – great dust and cobweb magnets
  • Walls (interior) – a good clean with sugar soap sometimes prevents a paint job
  • Walls (exterior), paths, fences – use a pressure cleaner to ‘wash’ the outside of the home
  • Appliances – clean all major appliances on display: oven, cook top, microwave and especially the greasy range hood
  • Wet areas – mouldy tiles and dirty grout need to go.

Number 3 Low Cost Strategy – Repair, Replace, Renew
A purchaser doesn’t want to buy someone else’s repair jobs. They want their prospective dream home to be ‘move-in ready’. Most buyers are sellers who are trading their existing house for a new lifestyle, a bigger house, a better suburb and a ready-made standard of living. They are prepared to pay a premium to find a home that meets that expectation.

Maintenance and repairs are a must-do for every vendor. Some of the most common repairs are leaky taps, sticking doors, flaking paint, cracks in walls and ceilings, broken tiles, threadbare carpets, broken screens, broken roof tiles, rusty gutters. Sometimes there are bigger, hidden problems like water leaks or termite damage. I always recommend to clients that they inspect their home like a building inspector would (and is most likely to do once a contract is signed). Why give buyers the opportunity to haggle over asking price, or even pull out of a deal after an unfavourable report? Visible faults will convey a message of general neglect and set alarm bells ringing that the home hasn’t been well maintained.

For properties that show some obvious signs of neglect, I often recommend my clients invest in their own building inspection, which then acts as an action plan of jobs for them to carry out. It also means no nasty surprises when a buyer signs a contract and gets an inspection done during the cooling-off period.

Higher Perceived Value = Higher Selling Price
Making a home more attractive and appear well cared for does not mean having to spend a large sum of money. The perceived value of a makeover will always outweigh the actual cost in giving a home a general tidy up. Sold For Top Dollar – Low Cost Home Improvements to Maximise your Saleis full of highly effective and simple strategies that vendors can implement.

As a real estate agent, it is your number one job to achieve the highest possible price for your vendors. You can educate and empower them to take responsibility for improving their largest asset without fear of losing a listing.

Show More


To contact the editorial team at Elite Agent email editor@eliteagent.com.