Mercury (Hobart) - Property
ATTRACT TOP DOLLAR
There are key things sellers can do to take advantage of the boom, writes Kirsten Craze.
IF first impressions are everything, grabbing the right buyer’s attention could come down to a couple of click-worthy photos online.
Househunters know they are not actually buying the coveted couch or dreamy daybed they see in an ad. But in the age of Instagram, they are still more likely to stop scrolling and click on a wellpresented home than an empty (or ugly) room.
Making a memorable listing, however, need not be an expensive or overwhelming undertaking, according to property stylist Justine Wilson.
“If buyers are going through dozens of thumbnails of similar homes in similar areas, you’ve got to have something eyecatching – and it could be as simple as adding colour to make your online marketing jump out,” Ms Wilson said.
“Having pops of colour can be something a vendor can do themselves.
“If it’s a bit of a bland bedroom, make sure the bed is made, put in an inexpensive artwork above the bed versus a family photo, and have a couple of bright scatter cushions.”
A switched-on agent and their photographer should know how to make online magic happen. But Ms Wilson, the founder of Vault Interiors, said sellers could help the process with preparation.
“Move furniture out of the way so the photographer can make the room look larger. They’ll know all the right angles, but it’s helpful if you’ve thought of that, too,” she said.
“Furniture layout itself is super important. If the online marketing looks great, people are more likely to go to that open home. If it’s an empty room, they can’t visualise how they would use the space and often they’ll discredit that property and not even go to the open.”
A 2019 LJ Hooker agent survey found 87 per cent of agents believed styling would lead to a higher price, and 70 per cent said a home would sell faster styled than empty.
“Some staging is better than no staging.
An empty house is an absolute no-no if you’re trying to get a premium,” Ms Wilson said.
May 2021 data from realestate.com.au revealed “pool”, “garage”, “outdoor area” and “ensuite” were among the top five search terms for buyers on the portal.
Buyer’s Domain director Nick Viner said he had seen a shift in what buyers wanted over the past 12 months.
“I see people wanting more internal space,” the buyer’s agent said.
“The biggest change has definitely been study spaces and extra bedrooms, which has come down to the work-from-home movement. So if a seller has an empty space, then I’d suggest they fill it out with a desk and chair. If they can identify what a buyer wants, it takes it to the next level.”
Ms Wilson agreed showing the possibilities was essential when preparing to sell.
“If you’ve got a stairwell that’s just got shoes in it, take the shoe cabinet out and make a study nook,” she said. “You want to create extra zones that will add value (and) give every area a function.”
Despite the popularity of renovation television, most buyers are not in the market for a fixer-upper. So the more liveable a property is, the better.
“Do obvious things like paint touch ups, go through and clean the carpet, if you’ve got floorboards with big scratches then fix those,” Ms Wilson said.
“Even though it’s a seller’s market, the more move-in ready a home is, the more desirable it is.
“Overwhelmingly, buyers don’t want to have to do a massive amount of work.
“You don’t have to spend a fortune in order to capitalise on what’s already there.
“You can update the kitchen and bathroom by swapping out handles and hardware that might be scrappy, and change light fittings or placement.”
Mr Viner said buyers’ prerogatives had changed, so sellers should pay attention.
“Maybe it’s Covid, maybe not, but I think the novelty (of renovations) has gone somewhat,” he said.
“Perhaps people are busier and the cost of renovations has gone up, too, so more buyers are thinking they might as well get a property that is done.”
Ms Wilson said sellers needed to detach themselves from their home because although buyers may be seeking a new lifestyle, they were not after yours.
“Jewellery boxes, family photos, kids’ drawings on the fridge – all those little things need to be put away,” she said.
“You’ve got to think about it like a hotel or an Airbnb listing, really depersonalised but neat and tidy.”
Vendors should also remember it was not only a property that was for sale, but an idea.
“You’re selling the lifestyle, not just the bricks and mortar,” Ms Wilson said.
“If you’re by the water, you want blue accents for that coastal feel. If you’re in the city, you want funky furniture to appeal to that buyer demographic.
“Do everything within your power to get the best price because if you’re going to go through the stress of selling, you may as well get the best outcome, right?
“Take your agent’s advice, take your stylist’s advice, because they’re all just trying to help you get the best price.”
Make sure the property is clean and clutter-free. Remove any excess furniture and decorative items, such as photo frames and trinkets. Carry out any repairs and touch up painting.
Set the scene and present the lifestyle on offer. Introduce style and detail through cushions, throws, accessories and artwork.
Help buyers visualise how the home will function for them, or their tenant. The most common styling error is selecting furniture that does not fit the room properly.
Convert unused or awkward areas into usable spaces that add extra value. For example, study spaces are becoming a must-have for buyers and can be incorporated into most homes.
First impressions count. A fresh coat of paint can be money well spent. Repair any outside damage, such as broken fencing, guttering or outdoor lights, and create a pathway.
Show the home in its best light and be organised. Ensure the property is spotless on open days with no trace of pets or scent.
There are financial solutions available for sellers with limited funds to pay for styling.