Posted: Apr 5, 2016
My best advice: in this month’s column, 16 property pros from around the world reveal their ideas and inspiration to sell your property faster.
The spring selling season is almost upon us. It is the busiest time of the year for property listings. Maybe it is the warmer weather, the desire to move during the summer months or that elemental feeling that spring is in the air. It’s that moment when homeowners take a deep breath, and put their properties on the market.
But how can you sell your home quickly, at the best price and make it standout in a competitive landscape? We asked property professionals from around the globe for their best advice. Here they share home-staging, pricing and selling tips.
1. Less is more
“Our message is to act now to stay one step ahead of the competition. Look at ways to get your property ‘sale-ready’ before the spring rush.
Clutter control: the real crux of a spring clean is de-cluttering. In preparation for viewings, pack away any items that may make your home look crowded, including toys. Potential buyers will want to imagine themselves in the property with their belongings. Ensure any drying laundry is hidden from view, and if you use part of your home as an office, clear away any paperwork.
Look good – inside and out: consider a neutral interior to freshen up the walls and the woodwork if it is looking tired. Clear any wet towels from the bathroom and make sure all the beds are made and clothes packed away.
When it comes to the outside of your property, check and repair any garden gates or fences, paint window frames and clean window panes. You should also clear weeds from paths and make the entrance to your home inviting with some freshly planted pot plants. Giving your home kerb appeal is the first step to creating a great first impression.
Keep it simple: less is more and you don’t have to spend a fortune when it comes to interiors. A few strategically placed throws and rugs to tone down any patterned sofas or carpets will bring older interiors up to date. Create some optical illusions by placing furniture at angles around the room and the use of mirrors can also have a positive effect.
Make the most of your space: if you have a small kitchen, every inch of space counts. Clear worktops as much as possible to maximise the space. When it comes to the dining room, consider setting the table to show off the space and add appeal to buyers. Show the dining room as a useable, family-friendly space.
Garage storage: If you use your garage for storing everything apart from the car, keep it clutter free during viewings to emphasis the sense of space. They may have their own ideas for garage use – so keep tools, Christmas decorations and other items stored in boxes or hooked on the wall. Don’t hide this vital space under a pile of ‘junk’.
Outdoor areas: gardens and patios can seem a bit dull at this time of year, but you can still make the most of what space you have with a tidy-up and simple repairs. Plant containers of late winter or early spring flowers and make the most of the view by cleaning the windows inside and out. A few bird feeders will attract wildlife and create a lovely outside picture.”
2. Modern makeover
“In a booming market, even a property with blights will get swept up in the frenzy, so if it is not selling then the vendor can be almost sure that either the price or the agent is wrong.
In a slower market, an impaired property can be hard to shift even at a much-reduced price. Doubt sets in the mind of interested buyers, undermining their confidence in making an offer. Aesthetically, a cramped, dark space is a certain killer. Reconfigure the space by removing a wall, adding a window or installing a large mirrored panel on a dull wall.
The lingering smell of tobacco is also instantly off-putting. A cheap “finish” with curtains hanging off the rails or missing light bulbs will deter buyers, too. If the sound of passing trains is a problem, a change of flooring can help to insulate against the noise pollution. Always question and analyse an agent’s activity rather than just accepting what they say. And do not be afraid to demand statistics. Portal coverage is so much more important than print marketing these days, so vendors should ensure the agent has a good presence on the property portals and a good Google page ranking.”
3. Talking tactics
“When entering spring, it’s always a good idea to renew photographs to freshen up the property, so it does not look out of season. It is our busiest time, with prospective buyers arranging viewing trips around their holidays, dreaming of some summer sun. Sometimes it can be good to withdraw an international property from the market, get new photographs taken, then re-launch in spring.
I always encourage buyers to get to know an area before deciding to buy. I would never expect them to find a property on their first trip. A second home is a luxury, and the buyers’ market in places such as Italy and Spain is a strong one – so they can afford to take their time. When dealing with the sales process in an area you are unsure of, and a language you are unfamiliar with, it’s always better to gather all the information you need before rushing to purchase a property.”
4. New horizons
“Set the guide price to sell, which is probably lower than you’re hoping to achieve. This will attract viewings, and help buyers who are factoring-in tax increases. One well-known selling agency was successful when selling properties in a stagnant market last autumn, by guiding just below a fair market price. Buyers then congregated in the absence of seeing value elsewhere. The bidding on nearly every occasion took the price paid well beyond expectations.
Photographs: for anything with a decent garden or land, a buyer will want to see an aerial view to get a feel for where the house sits in the plot. Ask your agent to take a picture, or shoot video footage with a drone, where possible.
Extras: information on running costs is useful, and will help if a buyer is choosing between two or more properties. The EPC [Energy Performance Certificate] is ok, but a statement on annual cost of oil, water and electricity from the vendor will help buyers compare accurately.”
5. Hit the slopes
“Although letting your property during ski season is obvious, don’t forget the growing appeal of the Alps hold during the summer months. Maximise your rental income and research dual-seasonal resorts to widen your audience. Aim to buy within a 90-minute drive of major airports. If you are going to earn rental income from tourists, then it helps to be close to an airport. Find out which major cities fly regularly to these locations. Some established ski resorts even have their own train station – a great way to arrive for a holiday.
If you buy in a dual-season resort, your property can generate a year-round income, rather than just during ski season. Latest figures by the Austrian National Tourist Office (ANTO) also show that the summer season is slightly more popular with 51% of overall visitors enjoying the mountains for hiking, golfing, mountain-biking and other outdoor activities.”
6. Heaven scent
Smell must be one of the most important factors when selling your property. But it can easily be forgotten. Are the rooms filled with spring flowers (daffodils, hyacinth) or yesterday’s TV dinner? Landon Tyler has launched a home fragrance range. There are 12 scents, including ‘Citrus Grove’, which contain uplifting tones of lemon, grapefruit and bergamot. Remember, create a positive atmosphere when prospective buyers walk into your home.
7. Virtually perfect
“Get ahead: web portals are probably the most popular tools used by Brits who are hunting for a second home overseas, according to our recent survey. Here you can find a wide range of housing solutions and sellers on one site. You can select your favourite properties, ask for more info and eventually go for a tour in spring. So that's the place to be if you're considering selling your house.
Photos are one of the crucial ingredients that will affect your success. They're so important many decide to arrange a professional photoshoot. You can do it yourself. It is very easy with this simple trick: choose a clear day without clouds in the sky. Spring hours capture the best colours, with bright lights and intense hues.”
8. Family matters
“Spring remains a popular property time for a number of reasons. Firstly, the days are warmer and longer, giving buyers more daylight hours for viewing, improving the chances of finding an interested buyer. Add in some cabin fever post-winter, and viewings start to peak.
Many families are looking to move before the summer is out, and since they will be so busy in the season with holidays, parents often prefer viewing without the younger ones, meaning spring is the key time to start looking for property. Towards winter, people are busy with Christmas, so budgets are often tighter and the weather is bleak.
With the warmer weather, more daylight, and the impetus to get a new house in order before the next school year begins, buyers are keener during this time of year. Unlike other purchases, where increased demand can result in lower prices, the housing market works the opposite way. Prices tend to be highest in spring when there are more buyers. Relative to demand, the supply of homes is tighter in spring, causing a natural spike in prices. But make sure your property is ready for the market, in its best condition, and stage your viewings to highlight the best features.
Now is most certainly the time to leap into action if you are considering listing your property in spring. It’s not just buyers that can make the most of the longer days. Now is the time to crack on with any post-winter repairs.”
9. Stay ahead of the game
“Sellers should fully understand all the logistics of their local market, so they can optimise the price of their home and close deals quickly. I would also advise buyers to start their hunt early, with many choosing to start their property search in spring / summer. But if they begin searching a couple of weeks earlier than the norm, it can make a substantial difference.”
10. Time to slope off
“This year, we have noticed an increase in late-season enquires across the Alps, thanks to promising snow in spring. There has been a definitive change in the weeks that our clients are choosing to travel to the Alps. Skiing during the later spring weeks, was traditionally considered low season. However, investors are now looking at high altitude resorts which offer quality snow later into the year.”
11. Sun, sea and sales
“Spring is often the busiest time of the year in property markets across the globe and this is especially prevalent in Andorra. We see an increase in the number of homes coming to the market as the country is flooded with winter sports enthusiasts during the ski season. This leads to an increase in competition for both buying and selling.
I would recommend that buyers, ensure all their finances are in place before searching for a property, so they can move quickly on transactions. It’s also important to work closely with your agent to think of a unique way to propel yourself above other buyers, whether this is offering a seller an extra day to move out or highlighting you are chain free.”
12. Tried and tested
"Even in a seller’s market, where property is in short supply and buyers far outstrip the number of properties available, it is important to ask a sensible price for your property. Overpricing can lead to inactivity and make your property appear unattractive. It is crucial to get many people through the door quickly and create some competition. Sensible pricing often leads to multiple interest. If you have a realistic asking price, it can attract multiple bids, especially for the most sought-after properties. You have to be in the sea to catch the wave!"
David Lee, Head of Sales, Pastor Real Estate (www.pastor-realestate.com)
13. Speed is of the essence
“If the speed and security of your sale is important to you, it is worth considering a reputable home buying company. A genuine home buying company should be able to purchase your property in as little as seven days, or on a date to fit with your onward move. The value of the company you choose, lies in the speed and certainty being offered – with no worry about the sale falling through. There should be certainty regarding the date of the sale and the price you’ll receive. Selling to a home buying company should significantly reduce the stress usually associated with the process of buying and selling a property.”
“During the winter months, buyers do not look closely at gardens, but as soon as the weather starts to improve, their focus changes.
Don’t neglect to tidy outside space and ensure roof terraces are in good order, with well-maintained garden furniture on display and planters filled with fresh bulbs or seasonal plants.
Spend a bit of time on any paths, windows and doors, then paint or freshen up if needed. In early spring, invest time and money in showing your garden, terrace or any outside space to their best advantage.
Paintwork may need retouching inside and children’s clutter may have invaded the rest of the house. Invest in new storage, clearing out anything that is gathering dust. Examine scuffed skirting boards, grubby light switches plus electrical sockets. Ensure that bathroom taps and plugs are repaired or replaced if dripping, or if they look worn.
It’s worth undertaking a thorough spring clean and hiring a professional company, who can steam clean grubby carpets, particularly in hallways and stairs. These are often the buyer’s first impression after seeing the exterior of the property.
Pay attention to the windows inside and out; on a spring day sunlight will reveal smeary, dirty glass. Clean the windows to make your property lighter and brighter.
Ideally, a viewing works best when the vendor isn’t present as it tends to be an unwelcome distraction for both the selling agent and buyer. The buyer may worry that they are inconveniencing the vendor, so the selling agent has two people to focus on rather than just the buyer.
Consider how you currently use your interior space. If a spare bedroom has morphed into a dumping ground or laundry room; or a study has become a space for newspapers and plastic toys, this needs attention. It is important to show off rooms for the purpose that they originally had. Try to make your rooms look dressed for their real purpose. If you have used a bedroom as a study, try to put back in a bed and make it look like a bedroom; if a room is used as a dining room, make sure there is a dining table there and it looks practical and attractive.”
15. Spring into action
“Ensure that the property is tidy, clean and smells good. Aroma can make all the difference – a light touch of perfume (slight fragrance – being the key), baking or coffee scents can make your property feel like home.
It may sound obvious, but ensure that gardens, patios, terraces and balconies are tidy. If possible plant in keeping with the season, brightly coloured flowers are always cheerful, giving the impression that you care about your home.
Perhaps include some soft background music playing gently in the background, especially when showing off an audio/visual system and turn the television on (ideally without sound). If the day is overcast, switch on the lights in every room.”
16. A place in the sun
“When we talk about spring in Barcelona, a property’s garden or terrace are key. A well-maintained garden with colourful flowers or an apartment’s terrace will give the right impression. Linked to that, introduce some home-staging. It helps potential buyers to understand the rooms better and project more positive feelings about the property.”
17. And one for luck… a top tip from us
If you have planning permission approved for an extension or side-return, then leave the architect’s drawings on a table. Your agent can refer to the plans or show them to prospective buyers. Most people want to add value and space to their new homes. This is a simple way to tick both boxes.