Selling houses is a bit of an art form. Actually, let me put that another way, selling houses successfully is an undeniable art!
Let’s face it, success for vendors when it comes to selling property means achieving the best possible price at the end of the day.
So we consulted expert real estate agent Steve Tickell from Hocking Stuart, to provide you with some invaluable tricks of the trade to make your home more sellable and ensure you get maximum bang for your buck.
Open for inspection or private appointment
Not surprisingly, many sellers find the prospect of perfect strangers walking through their house and sniffing through their inner most sanctums a little unnerving.
However, inviting potential buyers into your home is a necessary evil if you want to achieve a sale.
Steve says this is at the top of the list of frequently asked questions he experiences as an agent, along with the next obvious query – should we market the property through a private sale or auction campaign?
“The perennial answer when you ask the vendor what they would prefer,” says Steve, “is that they would like to sell by private appointment if they can. So they want people to come through on a one-to-one basis.”
Steve agrees that this approach can work particularly well at the upper end of the market where, generally speaking, there are less buyers and less availability of stock.
The reality in most instances though, is that potential buyers like to assess a property and its suitability for their requirements without having an agent breathing down their necks!
Hence, when he discusses the pros and cons with most vendors, they conclude that open for inspections are the best option.
Timing is key
Open for inspections must be executed carefully in order to achieve the maximum benefits. Obviously advertising an OFI on a weekday at 10am is not advisable, as many of your potential buyers will be settling in to work for the day.
Generally speaking, a number of OFI’s will be strategically planned for the duration of your property’s marketing campaign, with each one running for approximately 30 to 45 minutes to ensure as many people attend as possible. After all, selling real estate is pretty much a number’s game.
Steve says most homes will be open at least once, if not twice on weeknights, and more often than not it will be a Wednesday evening, when the twilight sky can add a seductive lure to a property that is dressed to impress.
“It’s great if you have a home that responds really well in the evening,” says Steve.
“If it has great internal lighting, and maybe a beautiful pool and gardens that are well lit, that type of home really benefits from a dusk inspection schedule. And again, that fits in for people who maybe can’t get there during the weekends due to other commitments.”
Likewise, says Steve, you also need to accommodate that segment of your market who may find it difficult getting out and about during the weeknights. In this case, it may be that a Saturday inspection at a set time is more suitable.
The “busy restaurant theory”
As a buyer, there’s nothing that makes you feel more confident in snaffling a great deal than rocking up to an otherwise empty property. Obviously for the vendor, this is a less than ideal scenario.
In order to avoid this perception, Steve says agents like to adopt what is referred to in the industry as the “busy restaurant theory”.
He explains, “If you’re going out for the evening and looking for a new restaurant in an area you may not be completely familiar with, chances are you’ll select a venue that’s busy, with lots of diners, over and above a place that’s doing no business at all, right?”
Steve says the same theory applies to perusing the market for a new home.
“When people walk into a property, they want to feel there’s a vibe; that there’s lots of perceived interest because a number of other potential buyers are there too. It’s very hard to create that impression when you’re conducting one-on-one inspections.”
Hence Steve says that as a rule, in order to generate initial interest from buyers and achieve the maximum possible price, it is far better to funnel prospects through your home during a well-executed OFI, thereby creating a sense of urgency around their decision-making and the subsequent transaction.
“It’s a bit like the Myer stocktake sales,” reasons Steve. “When you get there and see people in a buying frenzy, you want to join in, especially on Boxing Day!”
Steve says there are many advantages to marketing your home through a campaign of well-timed open for inspections.
To begin with, OFI’s mean less disruption to your family life, with one or two diarised inspections rather than a smattering of individual appointments at various times throughout the week.
Additionally, 30 minute open times allow more time for potential buyers to wander through your home and imagine how they would live in it, as opposed to a five-minute appointment where they might feel rushed while the agent “hovers over them”.
One thing Steve does advise vendors is that you should make yourselves scarce during OFI’s, regardless of how curious you might be to “listen in” to the opinions of potential buyers.
“If you’re there while people are coming through,” says Steve, “I can guarantee they won’t be prepared to ask questions or say what’s on their mind.
As agents, we need to extract as much information as we can from both parties – vendors and buyers – to make the deal work for everyone. It’s much better when people feel they have the freedom to say what they want to say.”
Planning equals profits
As with anything property related, it is important to get the planning of your marketing campaign right in order to derive maximum benefit from the sale of your home.
This is where a good agent with expert knowledge on your area is an invaluable ally.
Your real estate agent should be prepared to work with you to address the presentation of your home during the sales process, so it has far reaching appeal to the buyer segment most suited to the area and property itself.
Hocking Stuart have a section on their website for vendors, which provides invaluable advice on creating an atmosphere of competition during OFI’s and walks you through the process of marketing and eventually selling your home, be it through private treaty or auction.
Given that auctions are the preferred method for the majority of inner city property sales nowadays, Steve has a few tips to demystify this process for vendors and demonstrate that how you approach the big day, could mean the difference between a result that exceeds expectations or the disappointment of a pass-in.
Practical tips for auction day
- Mow your lawn and neaten up the garden a couple of days prior…and then offer to help your neighbours do the same! Presentation is key and every effort counts – especially those made on the day itself!
- Remove any weeds and rubbish on and immediately around your property and make sure there are no, err, animal droppings for people to stand in!
- Arrange for someone to look after your pets on the day.
- Invite friends along to create a bustling atmosphere and give the appearance of lots of interest in your property.
- Place mats at each external door to keep floors sparkling clean, rather than ask people to remove their shoes and cause a mountain of footwear to pile up at the front door!
- Ensure any valuables are stored safely away from view or take them off site if you want to be reassured of their security.
- Avoid having cars parked in the driveway or out the front of the property.
- In winter months, crank the heating up or have a nice wood fire burning to make the space cosy and inviting. On the flipside, make sure you have the cooling on for a nice reprieve from the heat of the day.
Ultimately, whether you decide to sell by private treaty or auction, the idea is to make your home as inviting as possible for potential buyers.
If you can dress the property and create an atmosphere whereby its easy for a stranger to walk in and imagine putting their feet up in your nice cosy lounge chair at the end of a hard day, you will be well on your way to sales success!