These steps will provide you with the best possible return on time and money invested when it comes time to sell:

1. Painting

You should paint bathroom ceilings if they need it, paint kitchen cupboards if the colours are dated. Consider changing the handles as well – a very inexpensive way to modernise your kitchen and most cupboard handles are a standard size so they are very easy to change (all you need is a screw-driver).

These are the ones I personally use: Sylvan Chelsea cabinet handles at Bunnings (only $4.38 each!)

sylvan door handle

Consider painting hallways and rooms if the existing colours are very dark. Use light, neutral colours at all times.

Resene “black white” is a safe colour choice for any interior walls.

Any of these should be fine as well: Top 20 Resene paint colours (July 2014). Go for lighter shades where possible though.

Paint your front doorway (and front door if required) to improve a buyer’s first impression. Go for a bold colour that fits the exterior colour scheme of your property – A dark red front door looks great next to grey weatherboards for example. Re-staining decks can also be a fairly simple job without too much prep work involved and can also make a big difference to the overall appeal of your home.

Be aware that re-painting entire exteriors can be expensive, especially when scaffolding is involved so call me for advice before going ahead with a total re-paint! We sometimes advise against this. Often small touch ups, or just painting window sills will be sufficient.

2. Gardening

1-19

You want your garden to appear as low maintenance as possible. If you present a section that is well maintained it will give buyers confidence that you have taken care of your property. Make sure any trees and hedges are not coming into contact with the house itself. Make sure paths are clear from over hanging branches of leaves and above all – trim anything that is blocking the sun! Be ruthless.

Note: Mulch / compost or bark chips can be your best friend to provide attractive ground cover over bland areas once you have cleared out tall grass and weeds.

3. House-Washing & Cleaning

cwb-slide-8

 

Sometimes all that is required to make a massive difference to the presentation of your property is a good, thorough house wash. When these are done professionally they can cost a bit more than you might think but they are worth every penny. Be sure to also wash gutters, paths and driveways too.

Tip: I personally use James Butler and his team at Clear Waterblasting: http://www.clearwaterblasting.co.nz/ They do a fantastic job and are a pleasure to work with. They also have a 20% off special running until Feb 26th 2016.

When you are just about to sell you need to clean as if the local health and safety inspector is coming for a visit. Buyers will poke around and inspect every nook and cranny so your usual Sunday afternoon whip-around really will not do. Hire some help if you need to and clean all those surfaces you don’t normally bother with – like the top of the rangehood, inside your pantry, behind toilets, in high corners were the cobwebs live and inside wardrobes. Wash curtains if required, or have them dry-cleaned – buyers love looking behind curtains to see if they can find spots of mould (and owners always forget to look there first). Clean as if your mother-in-law is coming to stay and you should be on the right track.

1-16    1-1

4. De-clutter

Firstly, take out everything you absolutely don’t need for daily life. Now take out some more. When you visit a show-home the first thing you notice is that they have a ridiculously small amount of furniture, but they do that on purpose. The more you take out of a room, the bigger it will feel to a prospective buyer. Leave prints and paintings on the wall (and a few personal photos to make it feel homely), but clear any surfaces like the tops of bookcases, the front of your fridge, the entire kitchen bench and dining tables, desks etc.

Hire a storage unit if you need to, and feel free to use your garage for storage. As long as buyers can walk into your garage and see how big it is, it’s ok to fill it with boxes and some furniture. A garage is a garage for most people.

Now you can dress for success! Borrow nice furniture from friends and family if you can, invest in new curtains if needed, and buy a new shower curtain if you have one. New duvet covers are essential – keep it simple and neutral.

If the property is empty, invest in the services of a home staging company to present your property at its absolute best.  With nicely presented, well placed furniture buyers find it easier to picture themselves living in your home.  That means they are more likely to develop an emotional connection to your property which will have a positive impact on the price they are prepared to pay.  Empty houses feel cold and un-welcoming.  If staging your home gets you just 1 extra offer, that added competition should help you re-coup your investment and a whole lot more.

5. Now that you are ready to move, decide which you will pursue first: Buying or Selling…

This is a biggie. Owners often can’t conceive of selling their first property without securing another home first. “We don’t want to be homeless!” This is completely understandable, especially for families with young kids and pets where renting would be less than ideal. The problem with this approach is it often means that when you find your dream home you need to make your offer subject to the sale of your existing property. This is a sure-fire way to lose out in a competitive situation.

Think about the market you are planning to buy in. Are you going to be competing with multiple cash buyers? Or is is a little slower, a little quieter, is it common for offers to be accepted ‘subject to sale’? As a general rule of thumb, the further you move out of a main City, the more likely you are to have success with ‘subject to sale’ offers.

In our area, attractive homes across all price ranges are selling with multiple offers. One property in Corlett Street, Johnsonville (pictured below) attracted 24 offers in 3 weeks during December.

1-8
1 Corlett Street, Johnsonville – 24 offers in 3 weeks. Sold more than $200k over RV.

If your offer is subject to the sale of another home you simply don’t have much of a chance when competing with cash buyers. If you do get your offer accepted in competition it is highly likely you have overpaid for your new home – since your offer would have to be way above the next highest cash offer for it to be considered by the owner.

To get around this there are 2 options:

Option 1: Secure bridging finance. Often a bank will approve you to own 2 homes for a short period of time. Thus you can be a cash buyer on your new home. Hopefully you can secure a long settlement when you buy, then sell your current home before you move in. If you are fortunate you may be able to get the settlement dates to align and never actually need to use the bridging finance. The key here is to get a long settlement on your new home so you have time up your sleeve. This may sound quite scary but it is more common than you might think.

Read: Bridging finance – What you need to know…

Option 2: Sell your home with a long settlement (eg 3- 4 months). This is actually the most common solution. It’s also the one that involves the least amount of stress. It is quite easy to find buyers who will settle in 3-4 months time, especially if your are selling a first home type property where your target market is likely currently renting or living with parents (meaning they can often be quite flexible on settlement date).

Yes it is daunting to sell your home without knowing where you are going to move to, but the benefits are huge. You can focus on getting the best price, you are under no pressure whatsoever to accept any offer that comes in and you have no impending pressure from the thought of having to potentially cover 2 mortgages. If it doesn’t feel right at all you simply don’t have to sell. This is a very powerful negotiating situation to be in! If you secure a 4 month settlement then you essentially have 3 months to find your new home, followed by another month to settle and arrange the move. Could you secure a new home in 3 months if you were a cash buyer?

In Conclusion:

When meeting with prospective sellers we usually don’t recommend more than painting, gardening, cleaning and de-cluttering. More extensive renovations like upgrading kitchens and bathrooms take time and energy and you will usually be doing well just to get your money back when you come to sell. The exception here would be if you have the skills to complete this work yourself, or have family members / friends who can do it on the cheap. If so, lucky you! Make sure you stick to as simple a plan as possible to keep a limit on costs and focus on the key areas, which are: Kitchens, bathrooms and ground-level decking.

The Wellington market traditionally picks up speed after Wellington Anniversary Weekend (22nd – 25th Jan 2016). If you are planning to go on the market this is an ideal time to aim for. For more advice on presentation, timing and marketing strategies. Get in touch with us via email, andrew.duncan@harcourts.co.nz.

For more info, check out:

23 cheap upgrades that will increase the value of your home

Should you be using a mortgage broker?

Negotiating tips for Sellers, part 1

Negotiating tips for Sellers, part 2

How to negotiate like a pro, what most agents don’t want you to know

5 things you should never say to a real estate agent

————————————————–

Best wishes for the year ahead!

Andrew Duncan

Andrew Duncan – Real Estate Blogger

————————————————–
NON REAL ESTATE THOUGHT OF THE WEEK:
Book I am enjoying right now:
– If you ever donate to charities (or plan to in the future) you should read this book. It has changed my outlook on which organisations to support, how sweatshops work and given me ideas on how to do my bit to help reduce global warming.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
“What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.”
—————————————————