The right time to sell your home is when you don't have to
There’s always hype around the property market. Property prices make for great conversation and everyone seems to hold a view of the real estate landscape. It’s either a buyer’s market; a seller’s market; a price hike or low clearance rates and bottoming out prices! The truth is, if you’re planning to sell your home to buy into the same market, or downsize as part of your retirement plan – it doesn’t really matter what the headlines say. Waiting for the market to improve is no guarantee of a better bank balance on settlement. Selling up your family home can be a very emotionally challenging experience. Ideally, you should be looking at making significant life decisions such as moving house while your well-being, your life partner and your willingness to embrace a retirement lifestyle are all in excellent health.
Here are 5 simple, low cost and effective tips on how to best prepare your home for an optimal selling price while keeping stress to a minimum.
1. Jump in the shoes of a potential buyer
Next time you’re heading home in your car, pretend that you are a potential buyer of the home you are thinking of selling. As you drive up to your home, take note of what you love about the location, what appeals to you as you approach the front of your house and what stands out as needing some care and attention. Write down the highlights and create a checklist for what you can improve upon. Pick up a local real estate brochure or take a browse on-line. Take a look at properties similar in size and location – how are they presented, what features are drawing you in to go and inspect the property further? Which real estate agents are presenting and marketing local houses for sale well?
2. Create a facade that draws potential buyers through the front door
Many browsers will want to drive by a property and take a peek before enquiring further with a real estate agent. You need to make sure that the front gardens, driveway, access paths, car accommodation, front facade and entrances are all in good shape. Call in some family or friends to help weed the garden, prune shrubs or trees, rake up tree litter, clear the paths, sweep off the cobwebs, clean the windows, dust the security screen, replace a mailbox in poor repair, put a fresh lick of paint on the window frames and eaves – whatever you can see that needs some . If you’d prefer not to call in favours from family or friends and your budget allows, it’s a worthwhile investment to pay a handy person, cleaner or gardener to give your property the detailed spring clean it deserves.
3. Make sure everything is in good repair
The last thing you want to do is risk creating cause for concern in a potential buyer that you’ve already succeeded in getting through your front door. If kitchen cabinet hinges need fixing, a cracked window pane needs to be replaced or a running toilet or dripping tap is creating a not-so-pleasant background noise, get onto it before the real estate agent starts bringing people through.
4. Lighten up!
Most people feel uncomfortable walking into the dark, stale air of closed in spaces. Open all window dressings and let fresh air circulate through the house (provided it’s not mid-winter!). Clean all the architraves around doorways, give doors a good wipe down and give those spaces around light switches that collect grubby fingermarks lots of attention. Spring clean the house from the ceiling down. Pack away, or better still if you’re downsizing sell up or give away any unnecessary clutter –absence of ‘stuff’ will open up the spaces in your home.
5. Don’t overspend
Potential buyers are called that for a reason. They’re often looking to buy potential, not what someone else has already put in place from their own style files. Unless your kitchen or bathroom is in really poor repair, there’s often little value in saying goodbye to $30,000 upwards in remodelling or updating. Seek the advice of a number of local real estate agents about what investment in your home is going to give you the most bangs for your buck.
Consumer Affairs Victoria provides a free publication on buying and selling homes for consumers. The better informed you are in what you need to do to sell your property, the more headspace you will have for drafting the next chapter of your life and planning your retirement.
Don’t wait until life throws you one of its confrontations to plan your next lifestyle move. Make the most of starting your retirement lifestyle as early as you can, you’ve worked hard for it. If you don’t feel desperate to sell, it’s probably a great time to do exactly that.