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7 features buyers look for when house hunting

by ShelMarkblog In Uncategorized

26 April 2019

To capture the attention of the right buyers for your property when selling you have to think like one of them. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself, “What is on my wish list for my new home?” Understanding this will help you recognise which features you need to accentuate when preparing your home for sale.

Interestingly, what most buyers actually want isn’t just the big ticket items you would expect.

Here are 7 features in a home that matter most to buyers:

1. More than one living area – while it may not be practical to add an extra living room to your home in the lead up to a sale if you have a small space, it is worth highlighting any extra living space (even if it’s only a sunroom) in your marketing. This also applies to open plan living, which is especially appealing to families. Often open plan areas can be worked into 2 living spaces (e.g. a lounge area for the parents and a play area for the kids) with some clever space planning.

2. Renovated or modernised wet areas – kitchen and bathroom renovations are big ticket items that feature prominently on the wish list of most buyers. If you haven’t done a full renovation, it’s worth highlighting any modernisations you have done. For instance, upgrading handles and tapware can do wonders to lift an older kitchen or bathroom.

3. Alfresco living – today’s modern, fast-paced lifestyle calls for a relaxing outdoor space at home. An alfresco area, particularly a covered, all-weather space that is readily accessible from the main internal living area, is high on most buyers’ wish lists.

4. Natural light – the more you can enhance and highlight your home’s natural light when selling, the more appealing it will be to buyers. Open your blinds and curtains and let the light in on home open days and inspections. There’s nothing less inviting than a buyer entering a dark home with all the lights on in the middle of the day.

5. A backyard – it doesn’t have to be big. Even a small yard with a lawn just big enough to kick a ball or play with the family pet is appealing to buyers with kids and/or fur babies. If your home is more suited to the downsizer market, the lower the maintenance of the backyard, the more appealing it will be.

6. Storage – Everyone loves a home with plenty of storage because it makes it so much easier to keep the place tidy. So make sure all the storage spaces in your home, from linen closets and built-in robes to workshops and garden sheds, are prominently featured in your marketing.

7. Generously sized bedrooms – If your home’s bedrooms are all large enough to fit double or queen sized beds, ensure your marketing says so. Better still, if your home is to be professionally styled, put a double bed in at least one of the minor bedrooms so buyers can see this for themselves.

As long established local real estate professionals we know what buyers want and work hard to showcase those features in your professional photographs and marketing copy.

Contact us to learn more.

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Live mode versus sell mode

by ShelMarkblog In Uncategorized

18 April 2019

One of the most common mistakes people make when they put their property on the market is to put it on too quickly.

The time it takes to prepare a home for sale depends on the state of the property, the motivation of the owners and the time and money they have to spend on it. The duration between ‘live mode’ and ‘sell mode’ hinges on two key things – the preparation required and the owner’s end goal. So what do we mean when we say, ‘live mode’ and ‘sell mode’?

When an owner is enjoying and living in their property, they are in ‘live mode’. However, when an owner decides to sell, a shift in mindset has to occur.

It is important to prepare the home correctly and turn it from a home they enjoy living in, to a home that buyers could imagine themselves living in – a marketable property that is ready to be advertised, showcased and sold.

Tips to transition your home from live mode to sell mode

• Start the move now by packing away any items you don’t absolutely need while the property is on the market.
• De-clutter. This doesn’t mean removing everything to the point where the home looks bare and uninviting. It simply means creating space so a potential new owner can imagine moving their possessions into each room. De-cluttering will also give the illusion of extra space in more compact homes.
• Depersonalise. Take down your family photos, Grandma’s tapestry and your children’s artwork. Let the property breathe.

Buyers coming through a property want to visualise themselves living there. They can only do that if the property presents not as the owner’s home but as their potential new home. A professional agent will help you showcase the property’s best features and how the potential purchaser could live there.

Transitioning from live mode to sell mode generates the emotional connection needed to drive a successful sale.

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The profit in your garden

by ShelMarkblog In Uncategorized

11 April 2019

When preparing their home for sale, most people pay close attention to the house itself, but often neglect to consider the state of their garden. And yet the garden can have a massive impact on the profit of a sale.

In real estate, we refer to the front shot of a property as the ‘dollar shot’. A purchaser’s expectations are established from the moment they set eyes on a property. Most will do a drive-by to determine whether or not to inspect a property. If a buyer drives by and sees rubbish piled high at the side of the house and an unkempt garden they will think, “Not this one. The owners don’t look after it”. Then they will cross that property off their open home list and move on to the next one.

An inviting garden creates a very important first impression
If the front garden is well maintained, the lawns are mowed and neatly edged, the shrubs and trees pruned and the garden beds weeded and filled with vibrant colour or lush greenery, buyers get an impression of a very well-maintained and loved property. It encourages them to feel an emotional connection to the property and imagine themselves living there. This is crucial because, without an emotional connection, a buyer is very unlikely to make an offer. Think of your garden as a marketing tool and a means to enhance the property and ensure it creates an impact. There’s profit in a well-maintained, landscaped garden.

Start early and think ‘less is more’
If you are preparing your home for the market, start as early as possible and adopt a ‘less is more’ approach. Ruthlessly cutting back and pruning your garden over a single weekend just before listing gives the impression that the home has been rushed to market. A better approach would be to take the time to tend to your well-established garden in the months and weeks leading up to the sale.

Consider investing in some beautiful pot plants to strategically place in and around your home. Not only will you be able to take them with you when you move, but well placed pot plants create atmosphere and a stunning visual impact, especially in the marketing photography.

To complement your well-maintained garden, gurney the driveway and have the exterior of your house professionally washed, including the windows. For a few hundred dollars, a professional exterior clean will remove cobwebs, invite the sunshine in, and leave the exterior of your home looking fresh and clean. In most cases, a professional exterior clean and gurney will have your home looking so good that it won’t need repainting.

Don’t underestimate the impact of a garden. Not only does it create a great first impression, but there’s also the potential to make serious profit from it. Look after it and it will look after you.

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What are the greatest energy guzzlers at home?

by ShelMarkblog In Uncategorized

05 April 2019

We’ve all been there. You receive your quarterly energy bill, gasp at the figure and wonder where on earth all the energy goes in your home.

Are certain appliances greater energy guzzlers than others? Or are the occupants of your home solely the reason why the graph on your bill indicates that you are consuming the energy for a household of five when there are only three of you?

Where does all the energy go?
According to recent federal government research, heating and cooling are the biggest contributing factor to high energy bills. The research showed that heating and cooling accounts for 30% of the energy bills in Australian households (add 10% to that for the cooler parts of the country).

This is followed by hot water (20%), refrigerators and freezers (12%) and IT and home entertainment (8%). You may have expected the last one to be up higher.

How to reduce your energy consumption
A great place to start reducing your energy consumption is to focus on the number one contributor – heating and cooling. For instance, if you have a tendency to leave the air conditioner on overnight, stop. Use an extra blanket in winter or open windows in summer instead. It’s also better for your health.

So what about individual appliances? Are some greater culprits than others?

Yes. It all comes down to the energy rating. The more stars, the more energy-efficient the product is compared to other models in its category.

Appliances with a higher star rating may cost more at the outset but they’ll probably save you more in the long run.

Let’s take a look at an example. Based on an estimated energy price of $0.3 per kWh, a television with a seven-star label would cost you approximately $30 per year to run. Whereas a television with a three-star rating would cost $120 a year. Imagine doing the calculations with all the main appliances in your home. The savings can be significant.

Here are a few other tips to reduce your energy bills at home.

In the kitchen:
• Keep a good gap between the wall and your fridge for air flow, ensure the seal is tight and don’t overfill it.
• Wait until the dishwasher is full before running it.
• Cover pots and pans to reduce cooking time.
• Turn appliances like kettles and toasters off at the wall.

In your living areas:
• If you have a/c, set it to a lower temp in winter (e.g. 18-20 degrees) – also applies to central heating – and a higher temp in summer (e.g. 24-26 degrees). Then dress for the weather.
• Prevent drafts in winter by checking seals around windows and doors.
• Close curtains and blinds at night in winter when the heating is on as a lot of heat is lost through glass.
• Replace traditional lights with LED lights and switch them off when leaving the room.

In the laundry:
• Use the cold wash cycle.
• If you do use hot water, set it to 60°C.
• Use a clothesline instead of a dryer.
• Wait until you have a full load before washing.

In the bathroom:
• Install low-flow showerheads.
• Have shorter showers (four minutes or less). Good luck enforcing that if you have teens at home!

For more ideas on ways to save energy, visit www.poweringforward.energy.gov.au

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Tips to keep your home inspection ready

by ShelMarkblog In Uncategorized

29 March 2019

You’ve prepared your home beautifully to go to market. It’s been freshly painted and de-cluttered, new carpets have been laid, the timber floors have been polished and it presents beautifully inside and out.

Now for the real challenge – how to keep it that way for the duration of the sales campaign?

Here are some tips to keep your home inspection ready.

1. Use your campaign photos as a template
Properties look at their absolute best when the professional photos are taken. If the agent or photographer has styled your home in a certain way on photo day, you can be confident that they have done so for good reason. Reference the photos to see which lights have been switched on for effect and how your cushions and throw rugs have been placed etc. Then copy what was done on the morning of your open home or before a buyer inspection.

2. Clean and tidy as you go
Let’s face it. Unless you move out, life goes on as normal in your home. And we all know what that means, especially if you’ve got kids and pets! Mess is part of life. But if you keep personal effects and clutter to a minimum during the campaign, you’ll find there is less ‘stuff’ to create a mess with.

Simple things like making the beds every morning, keeping on top of the dishes, wiping over the kitchen and bathroom benches at the end of each day, and hanging, folding and putting away clothes will help keep your home inspection ready without the overwhelm factor at the end of the week. Get your kids to help (a small reward can work a treat).

3. Move out
Moving out may not be possible for everyone but it is a growing trend for sellers, especially those with kids where both parents work full time. It’s the easiest way to keep your home looking like a show room for the entire campaign. Some people are opting to move in with family for a few weeks or into an Airbnb. If you can pull it off, moving out is worth considering.

4. Relocating the family pet
We talked about this in our blog last week but it’s equally relevant here. If your dog or cat is shedding or they are at home alone a lot while you’re at work, it could be worth investigating if they can stay at a family or friend’s place or at a boarding kennel while your home is on show.

5. Be disciplined
It’s not uncommon for sellers to be super motivated and organised in the first two weeks on the market. But come week 3 or 4 and things can become a bit lax. It’s important that you stay the course. Remember, the greater the effort you put in while your home is on show, the better the outcome.

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Selling tips for pet owners

by ShelMarkblog In Uncategorized

22 March 2019

When selling your home, keeping it inspection-ready at all times is hard enough without having pets to contend with as well. While we love them dearly, pets do add an additional challenge to the table when selling. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

Here are some tips when selling with one or more pets.

Remove your pet from the property during Open Homes
You could ask a close friend or neighbour to look after your pet while your home is on show. Or perhaps you could consider doggy day care. Check online for services available near you.

Let your pet have a holiday away from home during the sales campaign
While it may not be practical to remove your pet from your property for a number of weeks, it is a great idea if you feel comfortable leaving your pet in someone else’s care during that period. It will make keeping your property inspection ready much easier and less stressful.

Remove pet hair
Anyone who owns a dog or a cat, depending on the breed, knows how much hair they can shed, especially in the warmer months. Pet hair all over the carpet and furnishings is a turn-off for prospective buyers, as is constant sneezing for someone allergic to dogs or cats.

When selling, it’s important to ensure the experience for buyers coming through is a positive one.

Paying a professional to clean your carpets and other hair-heavy areas before the campaign starts is money well spent.

Remove signs of your pet & their odour
There is no point removing your cat from the home during inspections if you leave the litter tray in the laundry. The same is true for your dog’s bed, toys, bones and droppings in the back yard.

Once removed, pay attention to any lingering pet odours. Most people find that removing the evidence will also remove the odours. But just to be sure, create a subtle (but not overpowering) aroma in the home. Freshly baked bread, muffins or freshly ground coffee are still popular choices. These days the choice of quality plug-ins, essential oils and fragrant candles are also excellent choices to enhance the mood in the home and remove any lingering doggy or feline odours.

Don’t stress
Last but not least, remember you’re not the only one who loves their four-legged friend. Many potential buyers specifically look for a home that is pet friendly – a home that is fully fenced with some lawn in the back yard, a home that may have a doggy or cat door installed, a home that is close to parks and trails for walks with their best friend etc.

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The right story sells houses

by ShelMarkblog In Uncategorized

15 March 2019

They say a picture tells a thousand words and we couldn’t agree more when it comes to selling property. What many people fail to put enough emphasis on though is the story that accompanies the photos – the copywriting.

Here’s why professional copywriting is just as important as professional shots when selling a property.

1. It tells (and sells) the story
Great copy takes prospective buyers on a journey. It enables them to imagine themselves in the picture – living in the home and in that location, making new and wonderful memories there.

2. It focuses on the benefits
Rather than simply listing the features of a property, well-written copy highlights the benefits to the specific target markets for the property. For instance, if the target market is families with teenage children, it will highlight things like the games room, the two living areas and that the master bedroom is separate to the ‘kids wing’; in other words, all the features that give parents and teens the space they need to come together and spend time apart (anyone with teens will know the benefit in that)!

If it is a property targeting families with young children, on the other hand, it would highlight things like the benefits of having a lawn area large enough to kick a ball, the pool that is in full view of the kitchen and the fact that children can walk to school safely without having to cross a busy road.

3. It is well-written and polished
Copy that is riddled with spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and incomplete sentences tarnishes a property marketing campaign and can turn buyers away. Well-written, error-free and succinct copywriting conveys professionalism and entices buyers to want to know more.

At the end of the day, buyers don’t buy unless there is emotional engagement. By selling the story and the benefits, professionally written property marketing (copy and photos) encourages buyers to become emotionally engaged and fall in love with the dream. After all, a home is far more than just bricks and mortar.

For all these reasons we always use a professional copywriter as well as a professional photographer for all our property marketing campaigns.

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Make an offer or risk losing your ideal home

by ShelMarkblog In Uncategorized

07 March 2019

As real estate professionals, it is frustrating when we are faced with a disappointed buyer who failed to secure their ideal home simply because they hesitated to put forward an offer.

This is made even more frustrating for them when they see the property sold for a price they would have been prepared to pay.

The times we see this happen most often is during a soft market, such as the market we have been experiencing in Perth over the past couple of years.

So we thought we would share a few common traps to avoid when buying property.

Assuming the market will keep going down
If you wait until you think the market can’t go any lower, you can almost be guaranteed that it will rise and you’ll end up paying more. You have a window of opportunity when the market is calm so this is a good time to make offers. The only sign we will get if the market is at its lowest point is when it starts to improve. By then it’s too late, as the market will have begun escalating.

Waiting for a price reduction
This is a very common mistake. Many properties are sold before they have an advertised price reduction because somebody made an offer and the owner accepted it. The offer is usually below the asking price, but you won’t see it or get a chance to put your offer in. The bottom line is, if you are interested in a property, submit an offer. Otherwise you will miss out to the person who steps forward. Homes are sold to people who act decisively.

Waiting until you’ve found the perfect home before you list your own home on the market for sale.
It is important to be ready to buy if you’re serious about securing the perfect home. This means having your own home sold or listed on the market for sale so you will have ready access to funds for a deposit on your new home.

If you love it, make an offer. Don’t be concerned that there could be something better. In our experience, many buyers who like to shop around in case they find a better home end up back at the first home they looked at, only to find it has sold in the meantime.

Failing to secure finance
Shopping around for finance and obtaining finance approval takes time. To avoid disappointment and know, with certainty, how much you have to spend, our best advice is to secure your finance early (or at least approval in principle) if you’re serious about buying.

Failing to register your details
Some homes these days are listed for sale without being advertised at all (we talked about the Silent Sale method in last week’s newsletter). Registering your details with us, including what you are looking for in a property, allows us to alert you to all the properties (advertised and non-advertised) that match what you’re looking for.

Remember, you could be competing with many other buyers for the same property, especially when the marketplace is moving quickly. Being prepared allows you to act decisively. If you love it, make an offer.

If you’re thinking about moving, contact us so we can help ensure you don’t lose the home you love to someone else.

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Why overpricing your home is a bad idea

by ShelMarkblog In Uncategorized

01 March 2019

It may seem logical to think that setting the price of your home above market value when selling might be a good idea to give buyers room for negotiation. You may also think that doing so would allow you to pay the agent their commission without compromising what you receive from the sale proceeds. If you think this sounds like a win/win, you’re not alone.

The reality however is that overpricing your home could actually do more harm than good. Why? Because an overpriced property is likely to take longer to sell.

Overpriced homes attract fewer buyers at open homes and fewer clicks online. This then causes buyers to lose interest and perhaps even wonder if there is something wrong with the property. And the longer a property lingers on the market, the lower the price when it eventually sells.

Properties that are realistically priced from the get-go, on the other hand, are more likely to sell within the higher end of its value scale in a shorter timeframe.

Of course, there are a number of things that contribute to the time a house spends on the market. However, the initial pricing structure has proven to be one of the most influential factors in determining the time to closing.

There is a common misconception that real estate agents have a tendency to undervalue properties in order to get them sold as quickly as possible. However a professional real estate agent is more concerned with ensuring their client’s property is accurately priced in line with current market conditions.

With this in mind, it is important to be receptive to your agent’s advice on the price point and also on how to prepare your property for sale so that it attracts the market you are going for. A well-presented, competitively priced and professionally marketed new listing attracts a lot of attention, increasing the prospect for a favourable sale price without the need for a price reduction. It’s about taking advantage of the early momentum. As they say, first impressions count, not only with the look of your home, but also in terms of its price point.

Contact us if you would like a current marketplace appraisal of your home.

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How an offset account can help pay your home off faster

by ShelMarkblog In Uncategorized

22 February 2019

Anyone with a mortgage will know that the goal is to pay it off as early as possible in order to pay as little interest as possible.

There are many ways you can reduce your debt, including depositing lump sums when you can. One of the best ways however is to open an offset account.

What is an offset account?

An offset account works like a normal transaction account except that it is linked to your home loan account. This means it allows you to reduce your loan account more quickly because any money in your offset account is offset against the balance of your home loan. This reduces the amount on which interest is calculated.

Because interest on your home loan is calculated daily, the more money you can keep in your offset account, the more interest you will reduce.

Here are some tips to make the most of an offset account:

1. Have your salary paid straight into your offset account if you can.
2. Refrain from dipping into your offset account as much as possible.
3. Pay day to pay expenses using another transaction account or a credit card. If using a credit card, ensure you pay it off in full before the due date to avoid paying interest.
4. Consider setting up more than one offset account. Doing so gives you options for managing your finances the way you want to. For instance, you could have separate offset accounts for savings, bills, holidays etc. to help make budgeting and saving for different things easier.
5. Check the conditions of your home loan with your lender as some financial institutions or loan types only permit you to have some of your offset account’s balance offset against your loan. Some financial institutions also charge a monthly fee for offset accounts, while others are free of charge.

At the end of the day, anything you can do to reduce the amount of interest you pay on your mortgage will benefit you in the long term.

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