As an Estate Agent, I’m often asked how to add value to a property and improve the saleability of the home. One of the best ways is to look at the landscaping as this is the first impression the Buyer will get of your home. Here are a few landscape design secrets that are very effective and simple to implement. They will help to ensure your garden looks a million dollars come sale time.
The number one tip to an effective and profitable garden design is to ensure that you create a garden that is low maintenance and well presented. Most people don’t want to be mowing a huge lawn or pruning a hedge on the weekend.
Buyers want to visualise themselves enjoying their garden space. The key to a great result with your outside space is the same as inside; tick the emotional boxes.
A well designed garden not only adds value to the property, but also makes the property more saleable. Everyone wants to enjoy their outdoor space. Creating an appealing garden makes buyers imagine living in that garden space, it adds to the emotional pull.
As with any renovation, you need to start with the end in mind. That involves working out who your target market is. Your target market and your property value will most likely determine your budget, what elements you add to your garden and how much you spend on each element.
Dave Limburg from Online Garden Design has put together an awesome list of some effective value-adding elements for landscaping on a budget, this will help you.
1. Paving – An outside seating area is a necessity for a garden in Australia. People love to use the outdoor space as much as possible including dinning and entertaining. Recycled pavers are a cheap and effective way of creating an appealing outdoor seating area without overspending. Your paved area only needs to be large enough for a table and chairs – 4m x 4m should do. Pavers for this size area can be purchased for under $300.
2. Turf – Turf is relatively inexpensive. Couch grass roll can be purchased for about $6 per m2 from most landscaping yards. A small lawn area is almost a necessity for kids, it is certainly a garden element that families will be looking for when assessing a property to purchase – 30sqm would be plenty of lawn to roll around on, set up some outdoor games, or have a splash under a sprinkler.
3. Screening plants around the perimeter of the garden are a great way of softening an outdoor space and making the garden look bigger. The following plants will grow well in most Australian conditions, require minimal care and pruning, grow to roughly fence height and look great all year round; Orange Jessamine, Lilly Pilly and Sweet Viburnum. These plants can be purchased from your local nursery for approximately $20 each in 200mm pots, this pot size should be approximately one and half metre high plants.
4. Garden plants to fill the garden beds should be selected to look great, hardy and of course low maintenance. The following achieve all of these requirements; Flax, Star Jasmine, Giant Mondo Grass, Varigated Liriopes and Cordyline varieties.
5. Mulch – Garden beds always look a lot tidier and more presentable with a layer of mulch on top.
If you are thinking about selling soon, consider going to your nursery and selecting some shrubs that are flowering and looking good now. Something that is flowering with scented flowers is a little touch that can help boost the overall look of the garden and add to the appeal.
So for a little effort and some creative sourcing of materials you can add plenty of value to your property and increase the saleability without breaking the bank. You can design and build a garden that is both aesthetically pleasing and low maintenance.
If you need any further help, don’t hesitate to contact me.
If you’re hoping to sell your home quickly and for as much money as possible, try to avoid bare rooms in your house.
We have just sold a home in Chelmer that was completely empty. Although we have always promoted the benefit of furnishing a home, we respect that sometimes this can’t happen. This sale has highlighted the main reasons why furniture is a good idea, so here they are - The 4 reasons why it’s harder to sell a bare house.
1. People don’t buy houses, they buy homes.
When you sell a house, you aren’t selling a commodity, you are selling a home. A place where a family will raise their children, invite friends over for dinner parties, have loads of good memories. Even if you’re selling a unit, you’re selling it to someone who will bring their hopes and dreams into this new space.
Walking through empty rooms, or an empty house, is usually pretty depressing. It makes it very hard for us as agents to build an emotional connection between the buyer and the home.
2. It’s hard to gauge how big a room is when there’s nothing in it as a reference point.
Humans can’t tell the difference between a 3x4m room and a 4x5m room if it’s empty. It looks about the same even though one is 40% bigger.
When you’re dealing with an unfurnished space, a potential buyer has no idea what they can fit in it. They might think it’s just big enough for a couch, 2 chairs and a coffee table, yet there’s room for so much more.
3. When a room is empty prospective buyers focus on the negative details.
Rather than falling in love with the overall space and looking at the flow of the room, buyers get bogged down in details like:
This room looks dirty
There’s only 1 power plug in this room
The walls aren’t smooth
There are bumps in the carpet
That’s an odd place to have a light switch
That moulding doesn’t fit perfectly
4. An empty house (or even empty rooms) creates unwanted questions.
Instead of focusing on whether this is the home for them, they may be busy wondering ‘Is this a divorce?’ or ‘Have they left town?’ or ‘Are they selling because they have money problems?’
This train of thought may take them where you, as a Seller, don’t want them to go! They might start thinking, ‘maybe I can put in a low offer since the Seller is desperate’.
An empty house, or even a few empty rooms is not the ideal situation to get the best result for your home. For a relatively minimal investment in home staging, you are able to make a big difference to both the saleability and the price.
Don’t hesitate to drop me a line if you want more info about the pros and cons of trying to sell an empty home.
So you’ve decided to buy your first home, congratulations, that’s awesome. The idea of this blog is to give you a few tips to help you through the process and save you time and money.
If this is your first home, chances are that you may be a little overwhelmed by all the information that is out there. Hopefully you’ll find this list easy to follow.
1. Secure pre-approval
One of the first things you should do once you decide you're going to buy your first home is to get pre-qualified for a loan, so you’ll know in advance how much you can afford and what the lender will loan to you. You'll also be ready to act once you spot your dream home.
Make sure the pre-approval from your lender is put in writing, giving you the confidence and means to make an offer on a home or bid at auction.
I recommend seeing a finance broker for that. Your bank may give you the best that they can offer but a finance broker will look at what all the banks offer. They will then find you the loan that suits your needs the best. This can save you thousands and generally their service is free, they get paid by the banks directly.
2. Do your research
Failing to understand the market and exactly what properties are worth could be your downfall in securing a property at the right price. There are lots of places where you can research property prices. Look at auction results in newspapers or on the Internet, speak to local real estate agents regarding recent sales, purchase a professional sales report for the suburb you are interested in. Such reports give a detailed analysis of sales on a street-by-street basis.
3. Being familiar with the sales process
Before you start your search, be aware of the practicalities of buying a home. Read up on how auctions work (HERE is a great blog on buying at auction), the best way to go about making an offer, what to look for when buying property. Speak to friends and family about their experiences.
I hear a lot of people saying “it's best not to let your emotions get in the way”. Personally, I think this is rubbish. This is your first home, you should love it. This is where you are going to live, come home to every day, you could be there for the next 5, 10, 15, 20 years. Don’t settle for something you don’t love just because someone told you “don’t let your emotions get in the way”.
5. Looking at all aspects of the property
When searching for your dream first home, it's not just about inspecting the rooms and outdoors areas, you need to take many other issues into consideration, such as neighbours, noise levels, parking availability, and any developments planned nearby.
6. Choosing the right area
The suburb you move into will become a big part of your life so it's important you make the right decision. When compiling your list of suitable areas, you might consider transport facilities, whether you'll have to commute, and what the surrounding area has to offer.
7. Act quickly
Once you see your ideal home, you may have to move quickly. Whether it's the first house/apartment or the 100th one you see, if it feels right and it's within your budget (and you've looked at all the aspects above), don't leave it too late before making an offer. Someone might just beat you to it. That said, don't be talked into buying any property you're not sure about.
8. Put your offer in Writing
Just because you've made an offer and it's been verbally accepted, don't be fooled into believing the property is yours. Until you and the owner sign a legally binding contract nothing is set in stone. My advice is to always make your offer in writing, yes it may take a little more time than simply giving a verbal offer but the advantages of making your offer correctly outweigh the disadvantages.
9. Saving money on Stamp Duty
Here in Queensland, if you are a first home buyer and you pay $500,000 or less for your first home, you don’t have to pay any stamp duty. Between $500,001 - $550,000 there is a sliding scale between discounted and full stamp duty. If your first home is between $500,000 - $550,000, a $50 discount on your contract price can save you $877 on stamp duty.
What I mean by that is if your contract price is $505,000 your stamp duty is $1050, however, if your contract price is $504,950, your stamp duty is $173 saving you $877. That works all the way up to $550,000 where your stamp duty would be $10,600 however if your contract price is $549,950 your stamp duty would be $9723 saving you the $877. Keep this in mind when negotiating your purchase price.
10. Your budget
Despite step 4, about emotions, as a first home buyer (or in fact anyone buying property), you should never go above your budget and financial means. This goes back to the very first step in this list and secure your pre approval. Work out how much you can afford, don’t bite off more than you can chew.
11. Get a building and pest inspection
We've all heard horror stories about those who've purchased a new home only to find it riddled with termites. While you might think this will never happen to you, just remember that buying a property will be one of the biggest financial commitments you'll ever make. And it could prove an even more costly one if you don't get an independent pest and building inspection done prior to purchase.
12. Setting up your payments
Make fortnightly payments, not monthly, thereby saving thousands on the mortgage.
13. What’s included
If you are looking at buying a new home, carry out due diligence and confirm what is included in the total price.
Presentation is such an important element to get right if you are going to sell your home. It could mean the difference between achieving a premium price, an OK price or selling yourself short.
In this week’s blog, I’ve given you a few things to consider if you are looking to sell your home in 2013.
Buyers want to buy your house, not your ‘to do list’
The first point is that buyers want to buy a house, not your ‘to do list’. In most cases, when they see broken or unloved items around your house they overestimate both the time it will take to mend this themselves and the cost of the repairs. When you leave any part of the work undone you leave the price open for discussion and negotiation resulting in lost equity. You wouldn’t want to buy a house that required repairs (unless you were looking for a bargain) so bear this in mind when preparing your own house to sell.
A good place to start is to call your local building and pest inspector. Having a building and pest inspection done on the home will ensure you are fully informed on the current state of the home and reduce the chance of any surprises down the track. It also gives you an opportunity to fix any little issues before a buyer finds out about them.
Most of us live in houses that need a bit of TLC and we’re probably not even aware of all the repairs required. Now is the time to be objective, ask friends to help. Go around the home, both inside and out with a notebook and pen. Write down everything that needs attention. Be specific. Also write down exactly how you are going to solve the problem eg: re-caulk around sink with white caulk.
Once you have your list, gather together everything you need and make 1 trip to the hardware store to buy additional items. (not 2 or 3 trips like my Dad, he seems to love his trips to Bunnings) Set aside time to make all the repairs, ticking them off as you go.
If you don’t have the time, inclination or skills, call a handyman and give them the complete job list. It’s easier and more efficient if they are given all the jobs in one go.
Checklist of potential repairs:
Bathrooms: replace broken toilet seats or toilets, shower screens or curtains and cabinets including handles, replace taps if required. Re-caulk and re-grout the tiles
Walls and trim: Touch up flaking paint, paint untreated or primed wood. Repair cracks or picture hanging holes
Countertops, cabinets and cupboards: Replace damaged counter tops, repair cabinets, replace handles if required (gives a more modern look for a small cost)
Floors: Replace or repair any flooring that is loose, broken or has a piece missing.
Light fixtures: Replace if old fashioned, make sure every light bulb works and is a high voltage, replace electric sockets if broken.
Windows and window panes: Make sure they operate properly. Repair or replace as required.
Doorbells, doors and door hardware: Oil anything that squeaks. Repaint doors, especially front door if required. Make sure your doorbell works. Replace any tired hardware for the all important first impression. Replace any torn or ripped flyscreens.
Appliances: If you are selling an appliance with the house make sure that it works. Repair or replace if not
Stairs: If any stair treads are worn, damaged or creaking, get them repaired
Driveway and garage: Clean up any oil spills and give a good wash
External: A complete house wash, fix any broken gutters and missing downpipes.
All of this will help remove any barriers that buyers put up with relation to your home and of course will help to sell your home for the most amount of money in the least amount of time.
If you would like some personalised advice, please drop me a line. I'm here to help you achieve the best possible result with the sale of your home.
So as a real estate agent, you’d think I may know a thing or two about real estate and you’d be right. Here’s the thing, when your job is dealing with people that are moving (either into their new home, or out of their old one) you pick up a few hints on the best way to move. So here it is, the complete A – Z list of getting ready to move house.
Moving doesn't have to be a massive ordeal. This checklist, done in a timeline fashion, should help you plan the move from two months out.
It starts by establishing the date you need to move, from there you work backwards.
Below is my eight week check list. I hope you find it helpful for your big day and if there is anything you think I've missed, please leave a comment below.
Eight weeks out
- Set the date of your move
- Decide whether you will use professional movers, or do the move yourself – remember this could still be costly (eg, hiring trucks) and will definitely take more time than you initially think. If you're planning to rely on friends or relatives, don't assume; check their availability and get their commitments well in advance.
- Get quotes from a couple of removal companies, I’ve personally used minimovers a couple of times, and they’ve been great both times.
- Think about the floorplan of the place you’re moving to and start allocating your furniture
- Once you get a sense of where your things go, look at what items you may want to get rid of before the move and make plans to give them to charity, have a garage sale or get to work on eBay (to sell your unwanted stuff, not to buy more!!)
Six weeks out
- Discussing moving details with the moving company. Have a list of specifics and questions ready when you call or meet.
- Create an inventory of your possessions – this will help for insurance purposes. Take photos and store them somewhere safe; emailing them to yourself will ensure they'll still be there if something happens to your computer.
- Scan and store copies of any other important documents you'll be transporting, like wills, deeds or financial papers.
- Notify others – especially the Post Office – about your upcoming move. You can register your mail redirection here.
Four weeks to go
- Arrange for the telephone and internet to be working at your new home
- Contact your utility providers to ensure they will be connected when you arrive
- Get rid of those excess belongings! You started planning this 8 weeks out, it’s not time to do it.
Three weeks to go
- Purchase or lay your hands on packaging materials - string, tape, labels, markers, boxes, notepad. Check to see if you can reuse anything from your last move, and ask friends. Check with local supermarkets to see if you can use boxes they're otherwise throwing away (Yes, I’m a fan of recycling).
- Arrange with any friends or relatives if you need their help unpacking once you're in your new place.
Two weeks to go
- Contact your new council to learn about rubbish collection days and other regulations that might impact your household (like pet registrations)
One week to go
- Defrost the freezer at your current residence
- Finalise all the packing
- Pack bags of clothing and toiletries to take with you rather than send with the mover
- Finalise any cleaning requirements for the place you're leaving (like steaming cleaning the carpets)
- Turn off all services, including the mains switch and taps
- Double check each room in the house before you leave
- Give yourself a moment in your empty place to say goodbye and pat yourself on the back
- Ensure all utilities and appliances are working at your new home
- Check off each box as it comes off the moving truck
- Commit to unpacking sooner rather than later!
- Pop the Champaign and celebrate life in your new abode
This week I wanted to share an article from Michael Matusik. Michael is a respected property analyst and he recently wrote this article on spending money marketing your home.
I personally believe that the more people that know your home is for sale, the more people you will get through the front door, therefore the more people you will find that like you home. In turn, this gives the agent more people to deal with and helps them to get the highest possible price.
The great thing is that Michael agrees with me. I hope you find the below article helpful.
“The spring selling season is traditionally when we see the greatest number of properties come on to the market.
And for those owners who want to sell quickly and for the best possible price, the adage that "you have to spend money to make money'' definitely applies.
Marketing is an additional expenditure in which owners are sometimes reluctant to invest. In fact, most sellers want to commit as little as possible to the marketing cost of their property. It's completely understandable - why would we spend anything if we don't have to?
The standard "bare bones'' marketing package consists of photos, a signboard, internet advertising, and strategic print advertisements.
This is the basic package that is most often proposed by agents at a listing presentation. And depending on variables such as quality and the type of marketing package it can cost up to several thousand dollars.
But the question as to whether a basic, no-frills package really is in their best interests is something that sellers must consider.
Often, those agents who propose an upgraded campaign and a higher spend, have to work harder to win the business of prospective clients. Sellers need to be convinced that additional expenditure will be worthwhile.
Recently, JA Group auctioneers undertook a random sample of 365 auctions and split them into two categories. The first consisted of properties where owners spend less than $5000 in total on their marketing campaign. There were 282 properties in this group; and over a five-week period, they received 13.3 groups of inspections on average.
The second category contained 82 properties, and the marketing spend was greater than $5000. The average number of groups inspecting these properties sky-rocketed to 32.2 over the same period.
So essentially, where the marketing spend was higher, there were almost 2.5 times the average numbers of inspections.
Now, that's not to say that the JA study provides a firm rule of thumb calculation, but it does support a broad equation behind achieving the best possible sales outcome.
Simply, the wider a marketing campaign, the greater the number of potential buyers that are reached. More inspections lead to greater levels of buyer competition and potentially a better sales result.
Also, keep in mind that the quality of a marketing campaign also plays a vital role in the selling process. Good-quality marketing can make thousands of dollars of difference to the price.
The best agents will demonstrate this to sellers with clear evidence and supporting data. And smart sellers will be able to see that spending more to make more on the sale of what is likely to be their most valuable asset, is a worthwhile investment.” - Michael Matusik
We often get invited into homes that have been on the market for a while with a different agent. The Seller is lost and doesn’t understand why their home hasn’t sold. So in light of this, I’ve put together a list of a few things to think about if your home simply isn’t selling.
I can’t stress enough the importance of getting your home sold within the first 30 days. If you are looking to sell, speak to your agent about putting a plan together that will achieve a result quickly, that’s where all the energy & great results sit. I’ve only seen a handful of great prices achieved after that time period has passed. Many homes after that timeframe seem to attract the ‘hard to sell’ label which changes the energy & makes it near impossible to even get the right price let alone a premium.
However, if you are in that unfortunate position where your home has been on the market for a while, here are a few tips that will help you move past ‘stale’ to sold.
Step 1. Ask your agent directly “What is preventing my home from selling today?” As strange as it sounds, a lot of people avoid such direct conversation as they are afraid of the answer. Don’t avoid it, it’s important to know the answer to this simple question.
Step 2. Review & renew. Treat it as a new launch, start over. Consider new photos, new ad copy etc whatever you can do to re-energise the property.
Step 3. Increase your internet presence. The internet is a key media channel for Buyers. But when was the last time you looked past page 2 of a Google search? Make sure your property is featured as prominently as possible on the key property websites. Here is an interesting stat from realestate.com.au. Only 51% of buyers look past the first page in a set of search results so if you’re on page 2 you’ve lost half your buyers!
Step 4. Promotion, yes a lot of Sellers seem to hate this word but you can’t sell a secret. The reason why we recommend it is because it works. The more Buyers that know you’re for sale, the more Buyers you will have through your front door. Despite popular belief, print media does an exceptional job of attracting new Buyers to your property.
Step 5. Look at the price. A lot of the time when we are called into advise on homes that are struggling to sell, one of the key issues is it’s pricing strategy. “Price on Application”, “for sale by negotiation”, “expressions of interest” or simply over pricing your home doesn’t work in this market.
Step 6. Get a fresh set of eyes & an objective view. Sometimes you need someone that you haven't built a close relationship with to give you a new perspective. This may mean a property stylist, a new agent inside the company who is representing you, or even an agent from another company. The point is sometimes the answer can be right in front of us, but if we are to close to the project, we need someone else to give us a new perspective.
Step 7. This one may sound a little ‘out there’ and it may simply be a placebo effect however every time we’ve recommended it in the past, it simply seems to work and that is to consider a Feng Shui expert. If you’re not sold on a Feng Shui expert, call in a property stylist who may also have a view on the flow of energy. It may have nothing to do with energy and more to do with arranging furniture within a room so that flows better, but either way, what’s the harm in giving it a go?
Imogen Brown from Home Staging Brisbane recently wrote this blog and it is very relevant with a lot of the Sellers I meet. I hope you enjoy Imogens blog as much as I did.
"How you live in your home and how you prepare your house to sell are two different things." This Barb Schwartz quote is at the core of home staging. Some of my home staging clients understand the need to think about the most likely buyer of their property, then merchandise their property to attract that buyer. They are happy to pack away family photos or change the craft room back into a bedroom so that prospective buyers can see themselves living in the house.
But for many, these simple actions are difficult, as they're still emotionally tethered to their home and find it hard to unpack themselves from the property.
Emotionally detaching from your house before you list it the first step to getting it sold. If you still see your property as your home and not as a product to be packaged, you won’t see what needs to be done, or be willing to make the changes necessary. Everything will seem harder until you realise that your house is now a property. Your next property is your home.
Tips to ease your exit
If you're about to list your house and are finding it difficult to emotionally detach, these tips will help:
• Take your time. If you don’t have to move quickly, don’t. If your agent is pushing you to list by next Friday, that’s his or her agenda not yours. Work to your own plan and only list when you and your house are ready.
• Get help from family and friends. When my Mum died my Dad asked my Aunty and sister to pack up her clothes. Some things are too painful to do alone.
• Get outside help. A home stager is a great place to start. They can provide an objective pair of eyes and practical help and advice. They will keep you on track and support you through the process. They might tell you some 'home truths', but they will do it with love.
• Accept that moving on doesn’t negate the past. Take pictures of your house, rooms and special possessions. Write down your memories of the house too. Put everything in a memory box and pack it away for your next home.
• Ask yourself "What will the house sale give me or enable me to do?" Hold onto these positive images or feelings. Affirm them regularly.
• Think and talk in chapters. This property was one chapter. There have been many, and there'll be more. Look forward to the next chapter of your life.
I tell my clients there are 10 principles to preparing a house to sell. Emotionally detaching from the house is number one. Once this is done, the other principals - your objective, choosing your target audience, organising and purchasing furnishings for staging, and more, will be easier. Without letting go, they'll be impossible.
Read more of Imogens insights at www.homestagingbrisbane.wordpress.com
With temperatures consistently sitting above the 20 degree mark, some would argue that spring has sprung early this year. Gone are the cold winter days and now we welcome the warm spring weather with open arms. Traditionally spring brings a fresh influx of Buyers and Sellers to the market.
So what strategies and tactics should vendors consider when placing their property on the market?
Spring is the time when buyers begin taking note of the garden again. We start to reappear from the bleakness of winter and people naturally start looking for happy colours. Everything looks better in spring; with more light in the afternoons and spring gardens in bloom, it’s best to maximise your garden views by opening blinds and curtains during open-for-inspection sessions.
Apart from the more pleasant change of climate, both Buyers and Sellers can complete a property transaction knowing that settlement will be finalised before the Christmas/New Year period.
As always with selling, the same rules apply; concentrate on price, presentation and promotion in your selling campaign. Getting a strong emotional response from potential buyers is vital, this is how we achieve the best possible result.
If you’re thinking of making a spring change, we’d love to hear from you.
I’ve found that savvy investors are always on the lookout for ways to maximize returns from their rental properties. In the current rental climate where vacancies are limited, particularly in our region, it may appear easy for landlords to sit back and watch the rent roll in. But what if I was to tell you that greater returns are attainable by following five simple steps.
1. Keep it neutral
Everyone has different tastes when it comes to home decoration and gardening. So I suggest that you use neutral colours so you don’t alienate any potential tenants. Keep the atmosphere fresh. Also easy-care gardens attract the widest range of people – a simple garden will appeal to most tenants.
2. Don’t underestimate the importance of maintenance
Too often, I see owners that let their property deteriorate and don’t do any ongoing maintenance. This significantly limits the return you receive in terms of the rent. Attention to detail is important when hoping to get the best possible tenant. A fresh coat of paint and a professional clean of all floors, bathrooms and carpets gives your property the edge over other rentals. Freshly cut grass and maintained gardens will also attract the type of tenant who appreciates a clean home and will look after the property.
3. Make sure everything functions properly
No matter how great the presentation, your attention to detail will be a waste of time if basic facilities don’t work. It’s important to ensure all light fittings, bathroom and kitchen fixtures are functioning properly. A broken door handle or a leaking tap will immediately ring alarm bells. This is particularly relevant for older properties, as quality tenants will view broken fixtures as indicative of greater problems in the future. Keeping on top of small repairs also means you will avoid greater and more costly works down the track.
4. Look after your tenants
As the saying goes “don’t bite the hand that feeds you”. It seems simple that you would look after reliable long-term tenants. However, a lot of landlords make the mistake of neglecting tenants once they are locked into a lease. Don’t give the tenants a reason to relocate if they are reliable! If things need fixing, get onto maintenance swiftly. A happy tenant means a happy landlord.
5. Is your property manager up to the job?
Ensuring you have an active property manager is essential to happy leasing experiences and regular rental income. After all, a property manager is the gel that keeps the tenant – landlord relationship strong, so it’s important that your property manager is in constant communication and is regularly scheduling routine inspections as legislation allows. Making sure annual rental reviews are executed is also essential to ensuring your tenants are paying an appropriate amount of rent.