A big chunk of your property’s value might be determined by location, location, location. And you can’t change that. But there are some proven, simple steps that will help you get more from the sale of your home. (There’s even one below that most real estate agents would prefer you didn’t know!)
1. Make it look like a million dollars – even if it’s not! Inner-Brisbane has had a tsunami of new apartments over the past 4 years so home buyers are often comparing your property to newer ones. You can no longer go to market with faded carpets. The bumps and patches on paintwork will turn buyers away in bigger numbers than ever before. If your place is a “renovator’s dream” and needs a full overhaul that’s okay as there’s a clear market for that. But we’re witnessing shrinking demand for homes that need work, buyers can be lazy, and if you don’t take care of the small jobs before listing they will discount the price heavily for the effort required. Ask your agent for a ‘to do’ list.
2. Dress it up! Staging or professionally decorating and furnishing a home used to be our recommendation only for the $800k plus market. Now we see an absolute return on investment in all price points, with the ability to engage a buyer emotionally easily earning more in sale price than the $3,000 to $6,000 expense. Developers’ show homes, TV programs and Instagram property porn have all raised the bar infinitely higher and that scruffy old couch, faded doona covers and quirky collection of Balinese wooden monkeys might not resonate with today’s home buyers! It is a bigger financial commitment up front, but many agents (yes us!) can help you access interest-free finance to get you through to settlement. It’s even become common for buyers to ask how much the furniture would be to include – it’s easier than choosing and shopping for their own stylish decor!
3. Set a price that’s at the top, but still in, a competitive range. Buyers today are better informed than ever, the web gives them full info on all your competitor listings, plus they have easy access to this wonderful tool called an Automated Valuation… Yes, a computer is going to tell them what your property is worth! It’s better you and your agent know this number before you start so if it’s too low (and it often is – algorithms aren’t clever or thorough) you’re prepared. There’s heaps on our blog about strategies for pricing your home but here’s one that’s often missed: property websites use search ranges for price. So if you list at $555,000 you won’t reach buyers who’ve searched $525,000 to $550,000. An asking price of $550,000 will double your audience, appearing in searches all the way from $525,000 to $575,000.
By the way, don’t auction an apartment, but do auction a house. There’s times we vary our advice but this is a fairly good guide to inner-Brisbane real estate. Unless we’re in a very strong market or it’s something unique we rarely auction apartments, and multiple offers on a priced listing are where we find premium results.
4. It’s obvious to say you need to choose a great agent who knows your neighbourhood inside out, so they can best sell your location. But the skills they need are changing. Marketing has evolved enormously in the past 5 years so they’ll need to be ahead of the pack with promotional tools to get you the best price. One mandatory trait: they need to be a ‘hunter’ who is very fast at responding. Buyers expect immediate response to enquiry (our agency’s first step is an automated 24/7 reply with lots of the info they want) or they’ll move on to another listing if your agent’s too slow. Similarly if they make an offer your buyer expects premium service and a reply in minutes, not hours. If your agent’s too busy and has too many clients and listings, their delays will cost you.
5. Make sure your agent spends enough time with every buyer. Open homes might suit salespeople but a private viewing is far better for buyers, giving them time to really get a feel for the home. And a great agent gets to know their needs in that longer conversation and matches those with your property. This is where you’ll maximise its value to them and earn more for you.
6. Broad and powerful promotion is a huge opportunity as it’s still done poorly and a few key tools can have you standing out of the crowded online world. Your photos are all they see in social media and the first search results, and more than half of views are now on mobile devices – so they better be great. Many buyers won’t read maps so drone photos (marked with key amenities) are taking over. The trend to 360 degree tours is huge, with buyers using them to short list and even skipping those that don’t have them. It’s a bit like shopping for cars – time is golden and home buyers want to do plenty of homework before they book inspections.
7. Is there a strong need to sell? Share it with the market! There’s a reason agents love headlines like “mortgagee in possession” or “deceased estate” – and it’s not because we’re unkind! Our phones light up with those words in an ad and buyers appear in incredible numbers. You might be too proud to admit that the bank wants your property sold, but if it’s true you will almost certainly sell for more if you make that part of the headline. Sellers like to keep secrets so most of your competitor listings will never do this. But we know buyers love to spend their time on listings where there’s a genuine reason for the sale.
8. Momentum is king and time on the market is critical if you’re really going to get the big bucks. The first month is your sweet spot. Home buyers are nervous of any listing that’s old and stale (“why hasn’t it sold?” = “should I want this if no one else does?”) and this time frame is getting shorter. The internet delivers fresh content to them daily and they crave new listings. So you need to hit the ground running and be presented, priced and promoted the best you can be. That means careful planning with your agent to maximise momentum, being quick to adjust the asking price if you aren’t competitive (you’ll know because enquiry will be slow with below average internet hits) and giving early offers serious consideration – they’re almost always the best. And critically, keep your agent enthusiastic, as buyers will feed off that sense of urgency, or lack of it!
9. And that tip many agents would prefer you didn’t know!? Listings on the web slowly slide down the search results as they get older and one way to jump straight back to the top is to change agents. If your appointment has expired and you switch then your next agent’s listing will be picked up by the websites as a new listing. Fresh and shiny, especially if there’s new photos. Of course if you’re happy with your agent there are ways to stick with them and upgrade the listings to get you up to the top as well, and this is often cheaper than starting again.
Please share your tips on selling for more. We’d love to hear your ideas!
Co-authored by two of Brisbane’s most experienced real estate agents, Rob Honeycombe and Rebecca Herbst. Rebecca joined the profession in 1997 and is the Chair of the REIQ’s Sales Chapter Committee. She’s the Sales Manager at Bees Nees City Realty and Rob is its Principal. Rob’s been an agent for over 28 years and is a former REIQ Board Chairman, REIQ Salesperson of the Year (Townsville) and has personally sold over 1000 residential homes.