Only a couple of years ago the nature of the Australian real estate landscape looked a little like this…
Buy a property.
Sell it. Make a fortune.
Buy another property.
Sell it. Make a fortune….
And so it would go on.
Just like the song, “Those were the days my friend. We thought they’d never end.”
Well, the good news is that real estate is still a wise investment; it’s just that now real estate buyers are in a position to be more selective than perhaps they were during those frenzied years.
So, dear seller, you need to know the secrets of selling wisely, otherwise you run the risk of offering what could be perceived as “just another listing” to an already battle-weary marketplace, no matter how special and unique your property is. And by “selling wisely” I mean selling fast and achieving the highest possible price. And that means appealing to the right people in the right way.
Selling your home is no walk in the park. It can be downright stressful.
Fortunately, the mere fact that you have this resource in your hands or on your screen means that you’re well on your way to a stress-free sale.
Let’s take the first of nine steps to selling wisely, shall we?
Step One: Ditch A Lazy, Lying Agent At Once. Immediately.
An average real estate agent can cost you thousands. A poorly performing agent can do untold damage.
So, you simply must choose an exceptional agent to negotiate an exceptional price. No ifs or buts.
How do you choose an exceptional agent? Well, reading and acting upon Peter Hutton’s “The Key – 21 Secrets to Selling your Property for more” is your best bet, for starters.
A switched-on, reputable agent will advise you on presentation; will structure a tailor made marketing strategy; will promote your home widely; will communicate with you every step of the way and won’t rest until he or she has found a buyer willing to offer you the highest price possible.
A high calibre agent is a strong ally and vital to your success.
Step Two: Set A Price Carefully Or Turn Buyers Away
It can’t be stated strongly enough. Tell the world your home is on the market for too high a price and it’ll sit there. And sit. And sit.
Eventually only an unacceptably low price will attract attention because it’ll have been on the market so long.
Offer your property for too low a price and there’s nowhere but down from there! And what of the market’s perception of your property? “There has to be something wrong with it for it to be that price!’ From there on in, it’s a set up for them to pick every flaw possible to negotiate downwards.
As we pointed out in Step One, a great agent is like gold, and here’s a very real example of why that’s so. The best agents have their finger on the pulse of the marketplace, so will be able to accurately provide you with a list price to go to the marketplace with, and if necessary select the optimum time for varying that price.
Of course, you’ll be able to get a glimpse of what is happening price-wise in your neighbourhood without the help of an agent. Just look through your local paper and search real estate websites for similar listings. It’ll give you an indication. However, it’ll only be a guide – and probably a fairly inaccurate guide at that. Knowing where to “position” your property in the marketplace is a skill that takes a combination of “in the trenches” daily involvement in the local real estate industry; closely listening to and observing buyers; “gut instinct” gained from experience and most importantly – hard and fast figures that can’t be argued against.
This brings us to our next step…
Step Three: A CMA Is A “Must Have” – No Excuses
A CMA or “Competitive Market Analysis” is a detailed document that outlines specifically what prices are being achieved by comparable homes in your neighbourhood. They’re not airy-fairy, plucked-from-the-sky figures and they’re not ‘advertised prices’ from this week’s local rag. Remember, advertised prices are set by experienced as well as inexperienced agents. And sometimes by overly optimistic, unrealistic owners! No, a CMA when compiled with expert care by your agent tells no lies. It demonstrates clearly the types of homes that have recently been purchased in your area, where they are in your neighbourhood, and how much they sold for.
Tell your agent that if they won’t, don’t or can’t provide you with a comprehensive CMA, you won’t list with them. Can’t be plainer than that.
Step Four: Don’t Go Near Most Interior Designers With A Barge Pole!
“What? Avoid interior designers? I thought I was supposed to “present my home like it was in some glossy “home and lifestyle” magazine? You’re crazy!”
Er… allow me to explain…
Those home and lifestyle shows on TV, and indeed many real estate agents today are advising sellers to appoint an interior designer/decorator to ‘spruce up’ the look and feel of their home prior to a marketing campaign.
That’s actually fantastic advice, but I have one word of caution.
You see, most interior designers and decorators are incredibly skilled at creating a look and feel a home or unit based on the existing property owner’s personality and lifestyle, yet are hopeless at understanding what appeals to real estate buyer’s tastes in specific properties. It’s a less tangible notion.
De-cluttering and styling your home – or “sprucing it up” – prior to putting it on the market cannot be recommended highly enough, but the person you need on your side is an experienced interior designer who is well versed in what “pushes the buttons” of buyers of property like yours.
You need someone who is fully qualified and an experienced interior designer and preferably is contracted to a real estate agency to service all of their exclusive listing clients.
Look for a property stylist who has an amazing talent and creative flair for maximising any property’s visual appeal (as of course, most people in the design industry have), but with the added advantage of being intimately involved in the real estate industry day in, day out.
This person should pick up on the subtle nuances in the language of buyers, is able to empathise with their desires, and is so in tune with the marketplace that design subtleties that are blatantly obvious them, given their experiences, may not be picked up by traditional interior designers.
Now, very few agencies offer an in-house service like this but your agent should feel a responsibility to ensure that every exclusive listing is not only presented magically – but in a way that will appeal directly to the passions burning within potential buyers for your property.
When selecting an agency, be sure to ask for such a service, as it can make you thousands.
Now, if you do decide to go it alone, or to engage a general interior designer and/or decorator, you’ll want to ensure your rooms are spotlessly clean, light, airy, odour free, free from pet hair and smells, and with everything within its place.
Mow lawns and trim hedges. Have your gardens and outdoor areas beckon for the company of the new owners and their lifestyle.
The final word in this step is this… a well presented home or unit that instantly appeals to a buyer’s instincts will easily make the difference between someone offering a premium price, and an unacceptably low one.
Step Five: Don’t Put Barriers In The Way Of A Buyer
Ever looked at an advertised property and wanted to know more about it, yet it’s obvious the ad was written sloppily with no thought put into it, and/or it was written with the blatant intention of enticing you to call a salesperson for more information?
Sadly, this lack of respect for both the seller and buyers is rife among agents in this country.
To an uneducated, unethical or just plain greedy agent, they’ll proudly announce that their advertising strategy is built on hiding information from the buyers in the belief that people remotely interested in your property will at least ring for more information. It’s an attitude base in some part on the old “numbers game” philosophy. They’ll say things like, “The more people, even if they’re tyre kickers, I can show through the property, the more chance someone will buy it, and if not, at least the vendor can see I’m doing something.
There are two laughable points here.
1. It’s a competitive, time poor marketplace. People are less likely ring around to “learn more” about a property that’s inadequately promoted, when with the turn of a page or the click of a mouse, there’s another property that offers comprehensive benefits and sensational photography that jumps out and captures their emotions through compelling copywriting.
2. Most real estate agents are viewed with some scepticism by the public. (Oh, really? I hear you say!) So most people will avoid talking to an agent in the early stages of researching property at all costs. And that’s particularly true when it’s obvious that an agent is withholding information just to ensure a phone call and subsequent inspection takes place.
The key is to capture and hold people’s attention from the moment they lay eyes on your property. Explain to readers all the many benefits of living there. What are the attributes that attracted you to buy it in the first place? Often times the new buyer will be buying for the very same reasons.
• Invest in a professional photographer to create stunning images of your home.
• Invest in a professional copywriter to write powerfully for you.
• Invest in a professional graphic designer to present your home in print.
• Invest in a real estate agency with an outstanding website that allows plenty of photography and information.
Generally the higher the price of any given product, the more information buyers seek. Real estate is the biggest investment anyone ever undertakes; yet some agents put less information into a property ad than a garage sale ad. Bizarre isn’t it. Don’t ever put up any barriers to buyers.
Step Six: LOVE the paperwork!
Buying property is a big undertaking, but for your part as the seller, it’s does carry some responsibility.
So, make sure you’re covered. Disclose any defects in your property so they don’t come back to haunt you later. Make sure all paperwork is in order and complete in its detail.
FOR EXAMPLE: if you’re selling an apartment make sure a Seller’s Disclosure Statement of the Body Corporate is prepared before the marketing starts as a buyer can’t sign a contract without one of these – it’s best that you use an independent body corporate records inspection company to prepare this document so the potential of the sale falling over is greatly reduced (incorrect or missing information in this disclosure may invalidate the contract).
An ethical and hard working real estate agent will assist you in completing all paperwork efficiently and comprehensively, but it must be stressed that it’s vital you are 100% comfortable with the details.
Always – always consult your solicitor on anything you’re uncertain about before you sign it.
Step Seven: Vacant Home – Vacant Wallet
Of course people buy vacant homes. But not nearly as easily, quickly or generally for maximum price.
Think about it. You’ve moved on to another neighbourhood, town, city, state, or even country and meanwhile, back “home” your property sits idly with a “For Sale” sign out the front. It’s then that you realise that homes have a warm, cosy, friendly personality when they’re lived in; and appear cold, uninviting, unloved even when they’re not. Unfortunately, this change in your home’s personality is bad news for its perceived value.
It can’t be stressed enough. Try to avoid selling a vacant home, otherwise you risk of alienating those “emotionally driven” buyers. They’re the ones you want, because they’re prepared to pay a premium price when they find their perfect, emotionally appealing home. A vacant property is far more likely to appeal to investors, who will offer you a much lower price.
Step Eight: Do Buyers Really Need To Know Why You’re Selling Your Home?
There you have it.
After all, a buyer’s one and only motivation for knowing this is to have the edge in negotiations. Why else would they want that information?
Think about it. You want a buyer to buy your property. You’re leaving it. They’ll move in.
Your well-presented, well-marketed property, will sell with the assistance of a great real estate agent, regardless of whether you’re selling because your family’s outgrown it or you’ve been moved interstate on a work transfer. The reason you’re selling won’t make a scrap of difference to a buyer who is passionate about buying your home.
The reason you’re selling your home is information buyers want to use against you in a negotiating sense, so it’d be best to keep it to yourself.
If your agent wants to advertise your property with the motivation as the headline – (For example, I’ve actually seen headlines that read along the lines of, “Broken Marriage – Owner Desperate To Sell Now!”) then run a million miles an hour from them. Then run some more.
Step Nine: Know What Makes Your Potential Buyer Tick
As we said in the previous step, knowledge is valuable in the negotiation process.
Ensure your agent is able to uncover what buyers’ motivations are.
This can be a critical point in ensuring that your property is sold in a short time-frame and for the maximum achievable price.
You and your agent will want to know things like:
• What is the buyer’s motivation for buying?
• Do they need to act fast?
• Are they able to pay you what you expect?
Discovering these kind of things will go a long way to ensuring you have an advantage in the process – your agent will know just how far to go with the prospect, in negotiating a successful sale on your behalf.
The 7 Dumbest Things You Can Do When You’re Trying To Sell Real Estate
1. Not taking time to realise why you’re selling in the first place; not considering the possibility of holding and becoming a landlord;
2. Not spending time nor money nor effort to present your home with the new buyer firmly in mind;
3. Setting an outrageously high or sadly low price to begin your marketing with;
4. Failing to understand that you are aiming not for 200 tyre-kickers; rather you need to capture the imagination of legitimately qualified, inspired buyers;
5. Not getting a Performance Guarantee in writing from your agent;
6. Building roadblocks. In other words, making potential buyers feel ill at ease with the process from the very beginning simply because inadequate information about the property is promoted on the internet or in print;
7. Listing your property with an agency that does not have a current Professional Indemnity Insurance policy with a minimum cover of $1,000,000 in place.