It’s an age old problem: you want your sellers to do everything they can to make their property stand out, but you don’t want them to overcapitalise and risk losing money. Getting the answer right is even more important in a slowing market.
With that in mind, we chatted to three leading experts, each from a different area of the property industry, to get their take on what you should be telling your sellers to do.
Selling agent Christine Rudolph at Ray White New Farm, in Brisbane, said that simple fixes that affect a property’s street presence should be high on the list of priorities.
A good, budget-friendly thing to do is fixing and painting fences,” she said.
“One thing that really lifts a house is painting a wooden fence in a lovely neutral colour like Monument, which is big at the moment.”
Engaging in some basic garden maintenance could also transform a property, Ms Rudolph said.
“Another thing I would recommend is to take the time to do some hedging, especially if you have neighbours that are close,” she said.
“This is a great opportunity to start buying hedging like lilly pillies, which are fast growing, evergreen Australian natives with glossy leaves that bush up nicely.”
Another easy hack could be painting concrete areas to help them stand out.
“You could also get some concrete paint for that area under the house that is bare or the driveway – that’s very cost effective and it’s about $70 for paint and brushes and will only take a day,” she said.
“It’s something that really lifts the whole front of the house.”
For those with green thumbs, taking the time to establish a vegetable patch could also help appeal to buyer’s emotional side.
“Another thing people are emotional about when it comes to selling a house are vegetable patches, it’s a lovely way to spend this time, creating a veggie patch and putting in some fresh herbs,” Ms Rudolph said.
“It smells good with some lovely fresh rosemary, thyme and mint.”
Start with cleaning
Buyer’s agent Cate Bakos, founder of Cate Bakos Property, said that starting with simple cleaning tasks might be a better idea than any structural changes.
“The most cost effective start for any vendor is to heed the advice of their selling agent in regard to decluttering,” she said.
“Taking the time to clear out surplus furniture, personal items and clutter is vital.
“Not only does it create a freeing of space, but it helps a potential buyer visualise themselves in the home, as opposed to the current owners.”
If your sellers have the means, spending money on a staging company could also offer a strong return on investment, Ms Bakos said.
“Spending a few thousand dollars on good, specialist advice can produce an outcome ten-fold in terms of the resultant sale price,” she said.
It was important to take steps that would help the property make a good first impression with prospective sellers and appeal to all of their senses.
“Eradicating any smells, whether they be damp smells, cigarette smells, pet smells or other smells, is vital,” Ms Bakos said.
“This may involve steam cleaning carpets and utilising fans, and sometimes it requires new carpets, curtains and paint.
“Whatever the cost, bad smells are to be avoided… The only exception to this rule is if it’s abundantly obvious that the dwelling is to be demolished.”
In terms of more cost and time-intensive projects, tackling the kitchen and bathroom areas was the smartest move, Ms Bakos said.
“For some properties, a new kitchen and/or bathroom can be a great investment but this will be determined by considering the target audience,” she explained.
“There is little point spending $100,000, however on something that may not be a crowd-pleaser.
“If a house is original throughout, my best tip is to leave the creativity to the next owner, because overcapitalisation is the biggest risk to a seller.”
She said that vendors needed to avoid tailoring spaces to their unique tastes, she advised.
“The worst mistake I see sellers make is investing in quirky styling and/or renovations,” she said.
“Quirky risks polarising buyers and can ultimately reduce the buyer pool.”
Making it move-in ready
Justine Wilson, Director of Vault Interiors, said that good properties would continue to stand out in the current market, especially if they’d had minor work done to bring them up to scratch.
That could be as simple as a new coat of paint inside, she said.
“You can also steam clean the carpets, regrout tiles, fix any small scuffs or marks with sugar soap,” Ms Wilson explained.
“(Your sellers should) consider, where possible, resanding or polishing floors so they look their best.”
Vendors should aim to present the home as if it were move-in ready.
“Clean the curtains, deep clean the full home, especially focusing on kitchens and bathrooms, and ensure all light globes work as it’s the little details that count,” she said.
“The goal is to make the home feel like it’s ready to move into, and will be less maintenance for the new buyer, which is enticing for them.”