The new real estate reality How to make your mark on the market
Gone are the days when a house for sale didn't stay on the market very long.
Now, houses can remain listed for several months while a potential buy is sought. Price and location are two major factors in determining how quickly a house sells in today's buyer's market. Buyers have more choices but sellers can do relatively minor things to their homes to boost the chances of selling their property, real estate agents advise.
Larry Dunlop has been an agent for 18 years and opened his own company, Dunlop Realty, two years ago.
“De-clutter is top of the list and go with light, soft colours,” Mr Dunlop suggests. “Everyone is into this HGTV look now, so what a lot of people are doing is dressing each room to suit the furnishings in that particular room, giving it its own character.
“People have to have their house smelling nice a must, particularly for women. It has to be a nice, fresh scent, otherwise it can turn a woman off real quick. If you are going to sell a house then open the blinds and the curtains and let some light flow through. That's important.”
Usually newly built houses come with modern conveniences like granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances.
“Things like reverse cycle [air conditioners] are a part of what first-time buyers expect now,” said Mr Dunlop. “Travertine tile is the popular thing now and it is the 18-inch tile that people are going with.”
The exterior of the property is the first thing a potential buyer sees and it can leave a lasting impression. A nice garden and a well-cared for lawn adds curb appeal.
“Having a lawn manicured and trees pruned are vital,” Mr Dunlop believes.
“People are shopping around so those who have money are ensuring they can get value for money. They are in a position of strength. A buyer who has the money to buy a property can make an offer and try to beat the asking price.”
Mr Dunlop says different buyers look for different things inside the house, for example a person who does a great deal of cooking would look for a kitchen to match their needs.
“If a person is a chef-like person then a big kitchen is vital,” he pointed out. “A lot of the new developments have the open-plan concept now where you can entertain and see the guests right into the living room.”
Joy Jones of Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty offers tips on making your home more sellable in this tough economy.
“There's little doubt that the real estate marketplace is now in transition,” said the sales representative. “The cooling from overheated sales conditions is bringing inventory levels up to the point where buyers have more choices than they've seen in many years. The catch is that a softer marketplace means sellers will have to fight harder to get top prices and quick sales.”
Ms Jones offers the following suggestions to make a house more appealing:
l A fresh coat of paint will increase the value of a home. Using neutral-coloured paint and eliminating clutter or dark spaces can make a world of difference. Don't go overboard with home improvement projects that will push a house too much above the current average value of homes in your neighbourhood.
l “Curb appeal” or desirability of a home from the outside appearance can make or break a sale. In fact, beautifying your lawn can be one of the most inexpensive home improvements. Simple landscaping projects include trimming and edging the grass, manicuring the trees and hedges, removing any dead plants and planting flowers to brighten up the yard.
l Make sure everything works and nothing leaks. Expect buyers to ask for a home inspection and be prepared to make reasonable repairs if requested. Remember that it may be better to upgrade a ceiling fan than to look for a new buyer.
l Go for the junk and get rid of it. A house with less stuff looks bigger and roomier. If what you want to throw out can have value to others, see if you can help by donating goods to local charities.
l Use the best agent you can find. Experience, connections and reputation can be a real edge when marketing a property. Require your agent to have a marketing plan that makes sense for you and your property. The technique that sells one property may not be appropriate for another, so find the approach that's right for you.
“A home is arguably one of the largest financial investments a person will make in their lifetime,” said Ms Jones “While property values over time are determined by many variables, including the economy and local market conditions, the care and upkeep of a property is also a crucial element toward achieving a solid re-sell.”
Things to do
Roderick DeCouto Real Estate, has the following advice for sellers:
* Price the property right. Be realistic if you want it to sell.
* Make your property stand out amongst all others currently on the market.
* Make the property look as if it is loved/cared for.
* Clean and fix everything. This usually does not cost or costs very little, which goes a long way.
* Ensure that cleaning inside and out is done.
Interiorl Put away superfluous personal items such as children's toys. Clean out closets.
* Bathrooms and kitchens must be clean. Replace shower curtain if necessary. Make sure clean towels are folded on towel bars.
* De-clutter bathroom and kitchen counter tops. Put away bottles of food products and bathroom products.
* Address minor maintenance issues such as replacing dated, broken or rusting fixtures, hardware, etc.
Exteriorl Paint where necessary, particularly on any peeling or bad areas.
* Power wash walkways and patios if covered in mildew.
* Wash windows, window frames, shutters, exterior doors clean of mildew or dirt.
* Ensure gardens, lawns and hedges are frequently maintained and manicured.
* No rust, broken lights or broken fencing should be visible.
* Don't forget to clean out pump rooms and storage rooms, get rid of old rusty paint tins and broken items, bikes etc. This shows that the property is cared for.
* Property must be bright and cheerful. Open blinds and curtains before showings. Try to show on sunny days.
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