If The Loan Honeymoon is Over, Will You Have To Sell Your Home?

The Honeymoon Could Be Over.  Will You Have to Sell Your Home?

The first thing I want to say is this article is not designed to be alarmist or offer specific financial advice.

More than anything it is designed to prepare those of you, or anyone you may know, for what is in store when ‘The Banks’ stop their loan honeymoon period, which commenced at the time of the CoVid lockdowns.

In short, and you probably already have a grip on the subject, Banks allowed borrowers who were about to face some financial hardship as a result of Government re-action to ‘the virus’, to defer their repayments for 6 months. A honeymoon away from financial pressure of sorts.

That was back in March/April, and now we are headed into September/October – the 6 months have passed.

According to a couple of recent articles (see below) around 900,000 loan holders, mortgage and business, took up the deferrals and, very soon, the banks are going to start contacting around half of these people to discuss resuming payments and other ‘options’.

Deferrals over – Economic Crisis

Time’s Up…

For those of you who may be affected, or know someone that is, here is a cautionary tale regarding a property I was called in to sell a few years back, where the bank was ‘knocking’ and the owner was in a bit of pickle.

Mary (not her real name), had been involved in a marriage break up and she secured the family home after an agreement with her ex-husband to pay him out based on a valuation of $530,000 in August of 2008.

Why is the date significant?

It was around that time that the market ‘peaked’ and a month later began the slide punctuated by the collapse of Lehmann Bros Bank in the US – the GFC. Australian Govt stimulus for the property market finished on the 1/1/2010.

From that moment until early-mid 2013, the Australian property market felt the credit squeeze fallout, and in some regions, prices fell 20%+.

Mary was, sadly, under financial pressure, and had to sell.  The bank had been in ‘discussions’ with her and they were well aware she was trying to sell it.

This was early 2011 and the market was still sliding, with high stock levels and low buyer numbers.  Property prices were under pretty heavy pressure.

Mary had been with another agent who thought the market was still rosy and appeared not to have the where-with-all to give Mary and honest assessment of how the market was faring and how that applied to her home, and its price.

I was referred to Mary and I laid out the exact landscape of the market and how that applied to her place.

She had been trying to achieve $580,000 for a few months with no takers.

One of the trickiest things to do is price a property when the market is literally rolling down a hill – you have to get in front of the growing snowball before it runs you over.

We started a fresh campaign with an Auction guide of mid to high $400,000’s which drew feedback from potential buyers of ‘$450,000ish’ but no takers or bidders.

With $500k+ still on her radar we then went to a price of ‘Mid $400,000’s Buyers’ – no takers – feedback still $450ish.

It was here I asked Mary if she was open to having a serious conversation.

She agreed. This was around mid 2011.

I said, “Mary, the bank is on your hammer. It seems they may only be a few weeks away from taking it off you. I implore you to listen to the market and take control of the sale yourself.  If the bank steps in, they will sell it for whatever they can get, and they will come after you for any shortfall.”

“I want to get $500k. It owes me that.”

“I hear you clearly, Mary, but this market is on the slide and buyers are not willing to match your expectations. Let’s put it at buyers from $450,000 and see what the best offer is from the market.”

She agreed, but I knew I was pushing sh*t up hill because she was fixated on the $500k or ‘near to’ price.

She had been on the market for over 6 months with zilch result.

The price was changed to Buyers From $450,000 (legal in Qld) and pretty quickly we had three offers come in, with highest maxing out at $450,000. Strong finance, short settlement period.

Mary said, “No.” Her situation was becoming desperate and I actually held her hand and almost begged to her accept it, for her own good.  She refused and she instructed me to put the price up to $499,000.

I knew from that moment she was cooked.

The repossession notice from the bank came in and I had to step away as I was not on that Bank’s list of local agents.

The property went to a Mortgagee in Possession Sale and the property was eventually sold for…$390,000!

The lesson is this for those who may be confronted with a decision with the closure of the current loan deferment/honeymoon period – take control of your own destiny.

If your circumstances are that you can no longer afford to service your loan or reach a new agreement, favourable to you, with your bank – sell it before they do! The costs and stress could be enormous.

The one advantage homeowners have who are faced with that choice, right now, is that property prices are steady and still rising in some part of Australia. You may not have to take a ‘haircut’ if you decide to sell your home. But if a glut of properties come to the market – this could change.

Also, if you have any equity in your home (its worth more than what you owe the bank) you are way ahead.

Sadly, Mary was underwater, she owed more than what she sold for.

This is not financial advice. This is experience from the real world of real estate and banking.

My closing tip is, if you think you will be affected by the removal of the ‘honeymoon’ loan period, seek financial advice and keep talking to your bank – ignoring them is a fatal mistake.

Stay well, stay afloat, stay safe.

Craig

PS. It is well worth considering selling your own home, and save thousands, should your circumstances head that way.

PPS. And to help current and intended members with better exposure for your properties; we are offering 15% off 30 Day Feature Listings on realestate.com.au until 6pm on the 30/9/2020. First 10 to respond will get the advantage of this great offer.  Call us or see the pop-up on our home page.

 

 

 

 

 

Will We Continue Buying and Selling Homes?

I have no doubt your inbox has been groaning under the weight of ‘virus’ do’s and don’ts; tips on how to ‘stay safe’, how to build an online business, what the world will look like in six months…

The opinions on who is to blame, why it happened and how it can be sorted are enough to make your head explode.

Couple that with the fear that our friends in the mainstream media can effortlessly instil, and you have the cocktail not just for confusion, but physical and mental breakdowns that are far less easier to measure than the stats that engorge the media landscape in relation to how the ‘virus’ is doing.

You’ll notice I don’t, and won’t, use any of the terms or anachronyms that identify this event, because each day they are used thousands of times over on MSM and social media to keep your fear and uncertainty redlining.

No, this is not going to turn into an opinion peace, but all I can say is that during this ‘lockdown’ (a term exclusively used to describe keeping gaol prisoners under control during a ‘dangerous’ event) I have dug very deep into the ‘Why?’ and ‘Who does it benefit?’

I am always looking for the upside.

This event has polarised the public unlike any other in recent history.

You either believe the danger, have some gut-feel doubts or you are part of a growing number who believe it is being orchestrated to benefit a privileged few.

The one thing I find extremely hard to accept is the “we are all in this together” mantra.

No, we aren’t.

The martial law that has been so swiftly imposed limits human interaction apart from who you may be ‘locked away’ with…

Ok, I’ll stop there, I think it’s time to dive over to some observations and predictions (and BOY, there are plenty to choose from) for what might be in store for the property market.

I am always looking for the upside.

It’s not the strongest who survive, but those who embrace and recognise change is coming, then adapt to it.

After working for others for the previous six years, I started my first real estate business three months before the GFC hit in 2008. It survived and thrived, so I know how to help clients in tough times.

At that time, I knew the property and economic landscape would change, and that change was the tsunami of online business and trade.

And by learning about and embracing that massive shift, I was able to innovate and roll with the punches. It’s not the strongest who survive, but those who embrace and recognise change is coming, then adapt to it.

Fast forward to April 2020 and its on again!

Common sense! And remember – no Open Homes.

The real estate world is already adapting by utilising the tools that already exist and tweaking them to work efficiently within the current agenda.

Video tours, 3D imaging, online visual meeting platforms like ZOOM, online auctions…

Serious Sellers Always Attract Serious Buyers.

But you can still physically show another human (or two) through your property as long as you keep a safe distance – we always have – ask the potential buyer not to touch anything (you can open doors, cupboards for them) and have some sanitiser available for all parties to use before and after.

Common sense! And remember – no Open Homes.

Nearly four weeks into our ‘lockdown’ and buyer enquiries continue to roll in. Sure, numbers are down around 30-40%, in March we assisted with the sale of almost $10m worth of property, and already in April we are seeing reports from our members of deals being done.

Prices will come under pressure, but the advantage to that is, if your property has softened in value, so has the property you want to buy!

This confirms what I learned during the four-year downturn after the GFC: Serious Sellers Always Attract Serious Buyers.

Did you say four years?!

Yes, I did.  However, research based on cycles over the last 220 years (check out Phillip J Anderson) and my experience during the GFC, I would hope this event is part of the mid cycle blip that befalls the property/stock market.  It is not the end of the world, but to some it feels like it.

Prices will come under pressure, but the advantage to that is, if your property has softened in value, so has the property you want to buy!

People still have to, want to or need to move no matter what the current situation is.

Here are 7 Tips for getting through this event if you are selling or thinking about it:

  1. As soon as an MSM news bulletin appears on your screen, switch it off.
  2. Have faith that we will get back to some sort of normality quicker than you are being led to believe.
  3. Be patient and keep your property placed as a competitively priced option for buyers.
  4. When you get a buyer enquiry – engage that buyer. Talk to them, ask meaningful questions, do your best to relate to them and their situation.
  5. If a proposed deal doesn’t feel right, don’t allow the current situation to pressure/influence your decision.
  6. If you need to clear the clutter in your mind and re-focus, contact us – we are really good at helping with the right mindset.
  7. As soon as an MSM news bulletin appears on your screen, switch it off.

I sincerely hope you, and your families, are coping and keeping your eyes on the prize (an end to this ‘thing’).

It WILL pass, but in the meantime, start scratching below the surface by asking ‘Why?’ and “Who benefits?” so you might be able to better understand the situation we have been presented with.

Happy Easter, stay well and be well informed.

AIAB

CoVid-19 and The Real Estate Market Update

As of 25 March, 2020

To all current and future members of Agent in a Box,

You are no doubt being barraged with information regarding the current situation with the virus outbreak. Recognising this, we would like to keep this brief, yet as informative as possible.

We hope you are all safe, well and adhering to health guidelines.

As far as the real estate market is concerned, yes, it will soften in the short term with some buyers retreating until their circumstances and confidence return.

However, we continue to take and pass on buyer and tenant enquiry.  The market remains active.

As per the ‘recommendations’ of the Australian Government, you, as a property seller or landlord cannot, for the time being:

  • Conduct Open for Inspections
  • Conduct Auctions

One off/personal inspections with prospective buyers are allowable.

To help you engage buyers:

  • Take the time to talk as much as you can via phone (preferably) or email to prospective buyers/tenants to determine their interest and motivation prior to making arrangements for them to inspect your property.
  • Ask that prospective buyers/tenants attend personal inspections with no more than 3-4 persons in their group.
  • Practice the distancing recommendations and avoid contact such as hand-shakes.
  • Ask prospective buyers/tenants to keep touching of interior surfaces to a minimum or refrain. If they want to look in a cupboard, wardrobe or drawer, open it for them.

We are confident this event will pass sooner than later, and we remain confident the property market will return to ‘full speed ahead’ before you know it.

In the meantime, adhere to Government guidelines and practice patience, along with a good dose of common sense.

Please contact us if you have any questions. We are all in this together and look forward to this event passing so we can all get on with our lives.

Stay well and be well informed.

Team AIAB

 

Selling your own home? Kiss a couple of frogs to find ‘The One’!

One of the unavoidable tasks that go with selling your own home is engaging with buyers.

Once one of them cuts from the heard, and makes a B-line for your property, this is the person who is likely to write the cheque and take your property off your hands so you can move on with the next phase of your life.

Pretty much sums it up?

If this is the case, THEN DON’T MAKE IT HARD FOR THEM TO BUY YOUR PLACE!

Life, love, relationships, career, selling a lawnmower on gumtree- you name it – is, at times, all about kissing a few frogs to find the prince or princess.

You want to engage as many potential buyers as possible to work toward a scenario of buyers competing against each other, not competing with you, to buy your property.

Finding THAT buyer is no different.

But trying to weed them out, and avoid puckering up, before you’ve even laid eyes on them or had a cursory conversation, can quite easily leave you empty handed – where are the buyers?

Sadly, some sellers go to great lengths to avoid attracting and meeting buyers with repellents in their property descriptions such as:

INSPECTIONS BY APPOINTMENT ONLY

INSPECTIONS STRICTLY BY APPOINTMENT

BUYERS REQUIRED TO PROVIDE SUITABLE ID BEFORE ANY VIEWING

OPEN FOR INSPECTION BY APPOINTMENT (What does that mean?)

GENUINE BUYERS ONLY THAT HAVE THE FINANCE AND ABILITY TO BUY…

Sure, we want to avoid tyre-kickers and ugly frogs, but written ‘demands’ can put even the most qualified buyer off and stop them from picking up the phone or sending an email as an initial enquiry.

Imagine if Harvey Norman dropped a qualifying condition at the end of one of their TV ads, “And don’t come to our stores if your credit card is maxed out!” Revenue would plummet based on the attitude that message conveys.

When you act on the thought, “I’ll sell my own home” and embark on the process, think of it this way:

You want to engage as many potential buyers as possible to work toward a scenario of buyers competing against each other, not competing with you, to buy your property.

Talking to them, and having a brief conversation can tell you very quickly if they are fair dinkum or kicking tyres and licking ice cream.

Simply put, if you make it hard for people to buy, they won’t.

 

 

 

Thinking Of Selling Your Own Home? Read This 3 Minute Guide First

For many people the thought of selling their home without the use of an agent is daunting.

They have concerns that only agents can get buyers, that selling a home is somehow illegal or that they’ll be unable to command the right price.

Follow this three-minute guide and learn the tips and tricks used by thousands of others to sell their homes and avoid paying hefty commission fees.
 

Can you sell your own home?

Despite what they might like you to believe, traditional Agents DO NOT have exclusive access to buyers.

Buyers follow properties NOT agents which means you have as much chance of selling your home as they do.

And, because you’re legally entitled to sell your home, all you need do is prepare your home and retain a lawyer/conveyancer to handle the legal/contractual side of things.
 

Finding the right price for your home

DIY sellers also worry that they will under-price their home (in fact, 80% of sellers using an agent overprice their home which hinders the sale).

To find the right price for your home, ignore advice from those well-meaning folks who have watched The Block and think they’re a property expert and instead, look to online platforms and research recent and local (within a 3-5km radius) sales.

When it comes to pricing, avoid underquoting or employing clickbait techniques. Price your home using research and tell buyers what you are expecting to obtain.
 

Do you know your property inside and out?

Don’t leave any information you ‘think’ you know about your property to chance (I know of one seller who mistakenly advertised her land as being three acres larger than it was).

Know your block sizes, know if any easements exist, know the approximate size of dwellings/houses on the block, know the approximate age and be upfront about any improvements.

And lastly, it’s sometimes what you don’t say that can get a buyer offside. For example; you have extensive shelving in your garage that you plan to take with you, but you don’t tell the buyer until they are just about to move in.

Providing transparent, accurate and verifiable knowledge about your property will satisfy even the most suspicious buyer and avoid any nasty repercussions.
 

How much money will you save and what work will you need to do to sell your home?

Despite the commission charged by agents (on average 2.6% of the sale price) and additionally whatever advertising costs the agent recommends, a staggering 97% of sellers still hire an agent to market their property and help negotiate a sale.

If you use a service like Agent in a Box, selling your home can save 90% on traditional commission rates. It’s a no-brainer.

Really, the only consideration is whether you’re prepared to do the preparation to ensure your ‘home is in order’.
 

Ask yourself if you’re willing…

 

Agent in a Box’s top tips for a quick sale at the right price

If you’ve looked through the list above and are willing to do all the tasks you’re already well on your way. Use the tips below to ensure a smooth and successful sale:

  • Present your home or property like the Queen is about to visit. Complete all your repairs and tidy: poor presentation will affect both price and potential sales. Pop a sign out the front to advertise and create a ‘buzz’.
  • List your property on the internet by using big websites such as REA and Domain. Why? They receive around 15 million unique views per month.
  • With 90%+ of property buyers searching for their next place online, high-quality photos generate interest in your property. Ask a pro to take 12-15 great shots in landscape format, showing off the best features…and don’t forget a floor plan.
  • Use a benefit-centric headline and a captivating description. Write an intro with the benefits of owning the property, list the property’s main features, then finish with a location snapshot and a call to action.
    When potential buyers visit, remember to listen (it’s twice as important than it is to talk).
  • Don’t follow buyers around your home like an eager puppy. Let them know you’re available if they need you and then leave them alone.
  • If a potential buyer asks you, ‘How much will you take for it?’ Never answer with a price. Instead, respond with, “Make me an offer and I’ll let you know.”
  • If the nibbles are non-existent or few and far between, act within the first four weeks and make a noticeable, yet smart price adjustment.

Although only 3% of Australian Home Owners are currently taking the calculated plunge into private sales, the number of money-savvy sellers is expected to increase as online marketing, sales, knowledge and support services such as Agent in a Box grow in popularity and strength.

Owner Selling a House? Here’s what the market is up to September 2019.

Before we put the property market under the microscope, it always pays to take a look at the wider news ‘cycle’; because, ultimately, it can have an effect on the sentiments of home sellers and buyers.

If you listen to BIG media, and their predominant ‘doom and gloom’ they will have you believe that, once again, the sky is about to fall.

Impending punch-ups in the Persian Gulf, US/China trade tiffs, looming recessions, sinking Pacific Islands, the dangers of farting cows and, of course, The Climate ‘Emergency’.

But it’s the underlying ‘good’ news that we don’t hear much about, that keeps things chugging along.

Cheap money (low interest rates), solid employment numbers (95% of those who want to work are!), massive infrastructure spending by Governments, and most importantly, we are only half way through the property ‘up cycle’ (understanding this cycle alone, is one of the most powerful tools a property owner or investor can possess).

Despite the media’s penchant for ‘eek, horror, scream shows’ on the hour, every hour, the property market, in general, is turning the corner from the mid-cycle dip that usually has everyone running for the exits.

If I had to describe what the property market is doing today, I would say, “It’s becoming a sellers’ market, where sellers are reluctant to play.”

In other words, buyers are massing at the border, with confidence and money to spend, and sellers are only allowing a few to cross as they are reluctant to offer their properties to the market.

The numbers and anecdotal evidence paint a very clear picture.

The Sydney and Melbourne markets are turning the corner with Auction Clearance Rates up toward 75% over the last 3-4 weeks.

As you will see in Michael Yardney’s State by State Update (mid August 2019) there are signs that the price slide has halted, and some small rises have been recorded.

However, with buyers keen to hop back it in, it is sellers who appear to be dragging the chain.  There are 10% less listings Australia wide as at this same time last year and one of the top Agents I talk to in Sydney’s south, reports listing numbers have almost halved from the corresponding period in 2018.

With less stock and more buyers, this is quickly moving toward a sellers’ market, most noticeably up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

What a time to save/make even more money and sell your own home!

Another indicator I have seen that shows things are improving is the higher enquiry levels for regional areas; they are generally dependent upon healthy capital markets as city dwellers look to retire or take on that sea/green change.

Yet, could it be the case that home-owners might not realise their advantage because the negative BIG news ‘cycle’ is influencing their decisions?

Or are potential sellers waiting on the sidelines hoping for bigger spikes in price growth? I believe that major price growth is unlikely in the short to mid-term. ‘Steady as she goes’ is more like it.

If you have any questions or comments about your take on the market, I would love to answer or hear them.

 

 

 

 

Open Homes for Dummies: Read it before you sell your own home.

We’ve seen them almost everywhere.

Those self-help books that help us gain knowledge, master a certain skill or field of endeavour.

You name it, and there has probably been a ‘Dummies’ book written about something you were interested in or wanted to be better at.

Divorce for Dummies, P.C.’s for Dummies, Marketing for Dummies – even Politics for Dummies (and there are definitely some people in that field who should read it).

I’ve often thought about writing a Real Estate for Dummies book but that may have already been done. Maybe my 8 Insider Secrets/ Myths of Real Estate eBook might count.

Anyway, I thought I might dive a little deeper and concentrate on one important facet of Real Estate, that owners who are selling their own home ignore or get just plain wrong.

Conducting open homes.

Instead of writing a whole ‘Dummies’ book here and now.  I’ll give you a few of the most important Do’s and Don’ts that owners undertaking private house sales continue to ignore.

Don’t: Believe that you will get nosey neighbours as your main attendees. This is an old wife’s tale. In my experience (about 7,000ish open homes) around 1 in 10 might be a neighbour, and generally they were there to see the cut of my jib because they were thinking of selling.

Do: This might sound like, “yeah, as if someone would do that…” but… YOU MUST display your address on all marketing sources when you want to run an open home.

There is a bit of a trend, at the moment, where some owners selling their houses are choosing not to display their address (straight from the ‘How to p*ss off a buyer’ handbook). However, there are cases where ‘secretive’ seller actually advertise an Open Home – but potential buyers don’t know where to turn up to!

Display your bloody address! You can then avoid having to wonder, “Why didn’t anyone turn up?”

Don’t: Not be there! If you set a time and advertise an open home, the least you can do is be there to greet potential buyers. Always be there and ready 10-15 minutes before the scheduled start time.

Do: Get name, rank and serial number from every viewer who comes to your door at an open home. If it appears a group is looking together, ask who is the person interested in buying the property and get their details. No-one walks in without at least supplying their name and a contact number.

Don’t: Follow buyers around like a love-sick puppy. Let them look without distraction or pressure, and watch their body language etc. Sure, keep an eye on them and be at a reasonable distance in case they have any specific questions. Let them know you are there to help, but don’t bug them by waffling on.

Do: Ask them “what do you think?” as they are winding up or leaving.  If there are multiple groups, call them later that day, or next, and ask that question; then follow up with, “I need your help.  What do you think it will sell for?” That’s THE most important feedback you need to hear.

Basically, don’t be afraid to run open homes and conduct them with confidence. They are an important piece of your marketing armoury and can be a great indicator of whether, or not, you are offering an attractive proposition to property buyers.

 

3 Ridiculously Simple Tips To Presenting Your Home For Sale

If you’re going to sell your home, you need to be savvy. While it’s one thing to make sure your house looks immaculate and attractive to would-be buyers, you’ve got to make them want to look in the first place.

So, how do you get buyers through the doors? And, once they’re through, how do you ensure that they’ll be impressed? It’s all in the presentation.

Presenting your home

Here are my top three tips for presentation that sells.

    1. Show them you’re serious

      This sounds silly because if you’ve put your home on the market, you want to sell it.

      However, I do find that some house sellers are a little bit half-hearted in their efforts. For example, they take photos, but the quality is terrible and, many of them don’t bother with essential yet straightforward features such as floorplans and videos.

      Images are so important when selling a home.

      You may have written a beautiful description of your home, but by nature, humans like to ‘see’ what’s on offer. This is why I am a little shocked when I see some of the poor-quality images that people use when they’re selling their home. I mean, some are so terrible you wouldn’t post them on your own social media page, let alone use them for marketing a property that could cost hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars.

      Typically, I see images that are poorly lit, that fail to capture selling points of a home, that only show a few rooms (which leaves the viewer to wonder what isn’t being shown). I suggest you photograph the house from front to back and put them in order of how the property flows. Finally, remove images that show the reflection of the owner in mirrors or windows.

      Now, I’m not expecting home sellers to be professional photographers, but some basic photography skills aren’t that difficult to acquire. Use a wide-angle and set the images to landscape to capture the full size of a room, do yourself a favour and open curtains and allow as much natural light into the room as possible.
      However, with that said, hiring a professional property photographer is one of the best investments you can make in maximizing the return (price) on your home.

      I know it sounds obvious (but really, I’ve seen it all) make the beds, put clothes away and pick shoes, toys and general chaos off the floor. Show the house off to its best so that it is inviting and encourages the viewer to want to see more.

      Floorplans are also a vital visual tool when it comes to a buyer imagining themselves living in your home. I know that many would-be-buyers skip straight to the floorplan as they have definite ideas about what layouts work for them. For instance, a family with young children might not like a house that has the main bedroom upstairs and the kids’ rooms downstairs (others might love that idea). A floorplan lets them see the layout, and they can then make an informed decision on whether it’s something they’d like to pursue.

      Videos are also a great tool when it comes to selling a home. Again, they give insight into the layout and flow of a house. You don’t need any fancy equipment for this, just a mobile phone and a steady hand.

    2. Open up and be ready for inspection

      Many sellers ask me if an open home is a good idea or if a by appointment viewing is best.

      My answer? Both.

      Open Homes are a great way of getting a large number of people through the doors without major inconvenience, and the other benefit of large groups, is that when you get lots of people together in one place, it creates a sense of demand that will hopefully spur those interested into action.

      I advise vendors to have at least two Open Homes per week in the first four-six weeks of listing so that buyers, regardless of their schedules, have the opportunity to choose a day and a time that suits. You only need to run your open home for 45 minutes maximum, so it’s not majorly inconvenient. Weekends and evenings work well for most people.

      Open Homes are easy to arrange, and you can inform buyers through your website listing, promoting the date and time at least four days in advance. Don’t forget to use a board outside the home and put the details on there too. Just the time and date and the words ‘Open Home’ are all that is needed.

      By appointment viewings are useful for soaking the extras who can’t make the Open Homes for whatever reason. If a buyer contacts you to arrange an appointment, you can wheedle out the time-wasters by asking a few questions about their position and then offer a few times. For instance, ‘We can do Monday at 5.30pm, or Friday at 9.30am.’

      I always advise buyers to contact viewers a few hours before the appointment to confirm that they are coming. Make sure that you are ready at least 15 minutes before the inspection time as buyers have a habit of turning up early – I’m not sure if they want to catch you off guard stuffing the mouse traps in the cupboard under the stairs, or worse, but be prepared.

    3. Clean and de-clutter and then clean again

      Given the choice of two identical homes, are you going to want to buy the immaculate one that smells as fresh as a summer meadow after a rain shower? Or, the one that has clothes all over the floor, is covered in dust and has a bathroom that smells like … let’s just leave that image there.

      I am regularly dismayed and distressed by how some buyers present their homes to would-be owners. I’ve seen mess, I’ve seen dirt, and I’ve even seen porn (I’ll tell you more in a minute).

      Selling your home is an ideal time to get rid of the clutter that has filled the back of your wardrobe, drawers and garage. It’s the perfect driver for giving away the things that you no longer need to charity. Your junk could well be someone else’s treasure, but one thing is for sure, it will not help you to sell your home.

      When my sisters and I were selling my Mum’s house, they asked me for my biggest tip to ensure a quick and fair-priced sale. I told them outright – get rid of all the ‘stuff’. They did and, guess what? It worked. We sold quickly because the house looked amazing. By getting rid of the stuff that wasn’t needed we opened up the house and created space. People who were looking could imagine where their possessions would fit, where they could place their large sofa and how much room they would have – so much that they could never imagine filling it (although that’s a fallacy as somehow we always manage to fill space).

      When it comes to cleaning, you want to present your home in a way that means a buyer could move in tomorrow. There’d be no having to lift the toilet seat with a gloved hand or, running a finger along a windowsill.

      Think it all through. Clean everything so it looks as good as it possibly can, and that includes windows, ovens, countertops and bathrooms. Big sellers like kitchens and bathrooms need to look showroom worthy – or, as good as they possibly can be. Sounds like too big a task? Then call in the professionals and get them to do a thorough once over that you can keep on top of when it comes to Open Homes and by appointment viewings.

      And the porn? Well, I don’t recommend you display that when you’re showing your home or taking photographs. Who would be so crazy to leave a blue magazine laying around when people are looking around your house? It happens, honestly.

      I photographed a house once and thought it was looking pretty decent. Then a day or so later, I received an irate message from a buyer who called into question my professionalism and honour due to a particular magazine they had seen on display in the online images. After much scurrying around and asking my assistant to check, we couldn’t see anything amiss and so I asked. The reply told me that on top of a wardrobe was the offending material; so tucked away that they must have used a microscope to find it. However, find it they did. We had to take another set of pictures and apologise for any offence caused.

      Of course, it’s unlikely that this will happen to you but think carefully about the personal items that you have on display. This even goes so far as to family photographs filling the shelves in your living spaces. Maybe take a few down so that people can imagine seeing theirs on the shelf?

Interacting With Home Buyers: 3 Rules To Sell Your Home For More

If only selling a house was as easy as this: buyer likes house, buyer buys house, you move out. End.

Unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as that, but there are ways to make the entire process a whole lot easier. It’s called interacting with your potential buyers and involves manners, mindset and measure.

Why you need the 3 Ms to interact with buyers

Manners

I’m sure that when you were growing up, you were told to ‘mind your manners’. It’s these little pleasantries in life that can go a long way when it comes to getting on with people and, in the case of selling a home, making a person part with a HUGE amount of money.

First impressions count (and that works both ways).

It is to your benefit to make a potential buyer feel at home, and there’s no better way to do that than by welcoming them into their ‘new’ home.

If you are holding an Open Home, it’s imperative that you have a person at the door to greet and invite people inside. There’s no need for a marching band or letting off party poppers, a warm and friendly ‘hello’ and handing them the property details will suffice. If you feel that you’re going to be too busy to do this, ask a friend, a neighbour or colleague to do it for you.

Once the buyers are through the door, make sure to introduce yourself to all members of the party. And, be warned, from my experience, despite lurking at the back of the group and appearing as if they’re a passive viewer, that background figure is usually very important to proceedings, so make sure you say hello to him/her. I call him an Uncle Barry. Who is Uncle Barry? He’s an expert, that’s what. Uncle Barry (delete and amend name as appropriate) is one talented man/woman. They are a ‘fault finder’ extraordinaire based on their time in the military or, when they spent six months selling one house back in 1969; they’ve just bought a new home themselves, they’re handy with a screwdriver, they are an astronaut freshly home from a stint on the International Space Station – you name it. Uncle Barry has seen it all, and when in doubt, his opinion counts.

It’s therefore crucial that you acknowledge everyone in the group at all times. If there’s a question, answer it by speaking to all involved. An issue? Again, talk to the whole group, I’d even go so far as to say that when you’ve pinpointed an ‘Uncle Barry’ in the group refer to him/her. Get them in on the conversation and onside.

For example, if there’s a bit of rotten decking, bring Uncle Barry in on the conversation. ‘Yes, the decking is a bit rotten in places, but it’s an easy fix, don’t you agree Barry?’

It might seem like you have to go to extremes to please everyone here, but it’s essential, and it will pay in the long term. Believe me.

Mindset

A prizefighter would never enter the ring without a plan and you shouldn’t either. If you want to sell your house, you need to be organised and carefully think through your plan of action. And that involves mindset.

When it comes to selling your home, it can be all too easy to focus on the house and not the buyer. Yes, you want it to appear at its best, you’ve even had a word with ‘him upstairs’ and asked for the sun to shine on your Open Home. But let’s not forget, that as glorious as your home might look, you still need to sell the home to the buyer.

All too often, I’m told how a seller has the ‘gift of the gab’. On hearing this alarm bells tend to go off inside my head because the ‘gab’ is not always a gift. I imagine the seller dropping puns and ‘Dad/Mum jokes’ while the buyer shrinks into the corner of the room. Don’t get me wrong, I admire folk who want to sell their own home, and I have every faith that they can do it (that, after all, is one of the reasons why Agent In A Box exists), but you need to approach interaction with buyers with grace and nowse.

When it comes to showing people around your home, you need to give them space. While they might want to ask you questions about the exterior wall or when you laid the wood flooring, you do not have to follow them around as if you’re attached to them by Velcro.

Likewise, give them mental space too. I suggest you don’t spend an hour telling would-be-buyers all about your beautiful home and the fantastic times you’ve had in it, including the one time when your Auntie Joan visited from Sydney…. and spent three weeks sleeping on the spare room…. and one night got up and went sleepwalking …and accidentally walked into the wrong room… SNORE.

You don’t want to make your buyers feel like they’re a rabbit trapped in the headlights. Instead, let them walk around and create their narrative about the house – let them imagine themselves living there and inviting their Auntie Joan to come and stay.

Finally, when it comes to mindset, you need to play the long game. You’ve met the potential buyers, they seem to like the place, but it doesn’t end there. You need to follow up. Time and time again, I’m surprised to learn that sellers don’t chase up viewers. If someone looks interested, give them a call. If they didn’t seem interested, still give them a call. And note the word ‘call’.

I believe we rely too much on emails and text messaging and that real interaction gets pushed to the wayside. It pays to pick up the phone and ring a viewer. Ask them if they liked the house and would they like to come back and take another look. Pick their minds, for instance, they might like the house but are wondering about local schools or whether there are good traffic links closeby. You know the answers to these questions and can save them time spent searching. Be helpful, be productive – and for the love of all things cute and furry, have an ‘I want to sell’ mindset!

Measure

Now, let’s be clear. I’m not talking about a tape measure (although they’re very handy). I’m talking about being measured, which means not letting emotions get in the way of your ideal conclusion – which is, in this case, selling your home for a great price.

If a buyer comes to your home, it’s fair to expect buyers to ask questions and, like it or not, some of these might push your buttons. Typical questions you can expect are:

  • How long has the property been on the market?
  • Why are you selling?
  • How old is it/when was it extended/renovated?
  • Are you negotiable on the price? How much will you accept?
  • Have you had any interest? Any offers?
  • Are the neighbours decent?
  • Has anyone had a building inspection?

How you answer these can make a big difference; it’s the wording that can sway an outcome, not necessarily the answers themselves.

Here is how I suggest you answer them.

  • How long has the property been on the market? Answer the ‘how long’ question with the truth. Buyers have the right to know, and in most cases, your house has just gone on the market, and there’s nothing dark or mysterious to reveal. When you’ve told them, zip up. Don’t start making excuses or spelling out the history of the universe. Answer, then move on.
  • Why are you selling? Again, be open and transparent. Unless you are moving because the house is about to collapse (and, in which case you’ll need to tell the buyer) explain in simple terms. ‘It’s time for us to move on’ or, ‘we are ready for a change of location’ or, ‘we’ve just built a new house, and it’s ready.’
  • How old is it/when was it extended/renovated? This should be pretty straightforward to answer. Tell the viewers when it was built, when you had it extended or renovated.
  • Are you negotiable on the price? How much will you accept? Now, this is the question that can cost you dearly. It’s the question that you need to be the most measured about. Don’t rush in with a ‘we’d be happy to accept $X…’ Instead, remember to answer any question about negotiating or accepting offers with a question NOT AN ANSWER. This, will prevent you from blurting out the wrong thing. So an, ‘Are you willing to negotiate?’ question can be answered with ‘The best way I can answer that is for you to make an offer and we take it from there. What do you say?’ No more. Leave it at that while you’re still in control.
  • Have you had any interest? Any offers? Play this one truthfully but do not go into the whole business of how many offers, how much interest and, who said what and when and why. Instead, say it like it is and move on. If you haven’t had any offers say so but again, don’t say why you think that’s the case or start elaborating.
  • Are the neighbours decent? Answer truthfully. It’s rare for your neighbours to be the cause of you moving home. Please keep it short and straightforward. If these people move in, they’ll meet the neighbours soon enough.
  • Has anyone had a building inspection? If a buyer has already had a building inspection carried out, say so. If they did find an issue, you are obliged to tell any potential buyers, so don’t hide something that will come out in the woodwork at a later date. Be honest.

Remember my 3 Ms – manners, mindset and measure – for great interaction with potential buyers.

Negotiating Your House Sale: 5 Proven Tips For Success

There’s so much advice on getting the right price for your home but what’s lacking, is the nitty-gritty on negotiation and an honest and truthful representation of what is likely to happen when negotiating the sale of your home.

Whether you want to hear this or not, the truth is that when it comes to your price, you need to be prepared to negotiate.

Dig your heels in too hard, and buyers will walk away and, guess what? Yes, you’ll be stuck living in the house that you were desperately trying to sell.
 

Power play: 5 ways to negotiate your house sale

Follow these five rules to negotiate the sale of your home and start the journey to your new one.

    1. Don’t write off an offer – think of it as a whole

      If you’ve set your price at $457,000 and a buyer offers you something that starts with a 3, you’re likely to be upset, offended even and want to turn around and immediately tell them that you’re not interested.

      My advice?

      Don’t.

      Firstly, that offer shows that the buyer is interested in your property. They’ve made an offer and usually where there’s one offer, there’s another. Consider how you would approach buying a house, you’re not going to put in your best offer first, are you?

      Secondly, consider other factors that come with the price. For example, can they settle quickly? Or, take a bit of time? Have they already sold their home? Can they arrange a building inspection straight away? Are they flexible?

      Research suggests that often the first offer is the best. Over 71% of respondents stated that their first offer was the best.

      As the adage goes, time is money, so if you kick an offer in the butt that might work well for you in all other aspects, think carefully. Do you want your buyer to disappear and look elsewhere? While achieving the right price is paramount to selling your home, it is not the be-all and end-all.

    2. Keep all potential buyers in the loop

      So, you’ve got a buyer. That’s great news. However, is every aspect of ‘sealing the deal’ complete?

      For instance, has the buyer had their finance approved and, have they carried out a building inspection? If the answer to either of these two questions is ‘no’ you need to keep any other potential buyers in the loop.

      While you want this sale to go through, you’d be mad to turn away anyone else who might be interested before everything is signed off.

      Just like in a game of rugby, football or hockey, you need to have a ‘bench’ where the reserves can sit until it is time (or not) for them to have a go. It’s the same with any interested parties.

      How can you make the members of your ‘bench’ comfortable? By keeping them in the loop. Let them know you have an interested party with an offer and that at the moment you’re going ahead pending contracts. If any aspect of the ‘conditional’ deal falls through, you’ll be in touch and, if everything goes well, you also let them know so they can continue their search.

      In short, don’t write off other parties until the deal is signed. Sometimes the ‘star player’ is on the bench at the start of the game.

    3. Don’t let pride stand in the way of negotiating a deal

      Your house was your pride and joy at one time.

      Remember how excited you were when you first moved in? Think back to all those memories that you made within those four walls and how on moving day, you’ll have a little tear in your eye as you drive away for the last time.

      However, you now want to sell that home.

      You want to move on.

      And, to do so, you need to sell.

      So, don’t let a silly thing like pride stand in the way of your dreams.

      I met a house hunter recently who told me a story. She had her heart set on a property and had an offer accepted. It was her dream home, perfect in every way except… when she had a building inspection carried out, they discovered termites. Now, while termites are a pain, they’re also not the end of the world. Moreover, in this case, the inspector recommended only asking for a $2,000 discount. Guess what the vendor said? He said ‘no’.I had to ram my fist into my mouth because turning down a sale for the sake of knocking $2,000 off the price of a house is madness for two reasons, firstly, that the vendor allowed pride to get in the way of his sale. $2K must have been around a 0.4% discount on the entire sale price, and he had allowed it to fall through. Secondly, and importantly, because the deal had crumbled due to a building inspection, the agent would need to declare this information to any future buyers, which could affect the price even more.

      My final piece of advice? Pack your emotions in your pocket, lock them up and only let them out when you’ve drawn the curtains and, there are no buyers around!

    4. Create room to negotiate

      I’ve seen this a hundred times; the opportunity to negotiate gets nipped in the bud immediately – in one of three ways.The first is when an interested buyer asks a vendor if they’re prepared to negotiate, and the vendor responds by saying ‘yes, of course’.- The second is when the buyer asks, ‘how much are you looking for?’ and, in response, the eager vendor says, ‘we’ll accept $545,000,’ which happens to be $50,000 less than the advertised price.

      – The last is when there’s an offer, and the vendor says ‘no’ outright and walks off in a grump.

      All three of these put you in a weak position.

      As always with selling a home, it pays to put yourself in the position of your buyer (which just happens to be useful practise if you’re buying a new property yourself). Both parties want the best price – for themselves. You want to sell your home for $Z, and the buyer wants to buy it for $X. In the middle of these two is $Y. Of course, sometimes the first offer is way off, and more like $P but don’t be put off. Negotiation is the name of the game.

      If an offer comes in too low, don’t walk away. Instead, tell the buyer that you’re looking for more. Keep the lines of communication open by either saying:

      ‘Thanks for your offer, however, it’s not acceptable. Can you improve it and then we can discuss?’ Or,

      ‘Thanks for your offer, it’s a little too low. Would you offer $Y?’

      Negotiation doesn’t need to happen in the space of five seconds. Take your time. Ensure everyone is comfortable and that there’s room to breathe, reflect and think smartly.

    5. Know when to shut up!

      Selling your home is exciting, especially when a potential buyer is about to put an offer on the table. However, what you don’t want to do is blow the negotiating by saying too much at the wrong time.It’s simple when a buyer makes an offer, or you are making a counteroffer. Keep quiet. Zip up your mouth or stuff your fist into it if you need to.

      For example, your buyer asks you if you will accept $X and you say ‘Thanks for the offer, but I’m afraid that’s too low. Can you make another one?’ Then, you shut up. You do not offer a price; you do not try to justify, explain or backtrack. SILENCE.

      Or, the buyer makes an offer, and you give a reasonable counteroffer. ‘Thanks for your offer of $X but I’m afraid it’s too low. Can you offer $Y?’ Back off. Zip up and wait. Again, do not start rambling or adding ‘but’ or ‘because’ or ‘if only’.

      Those moments when you are quiet are the ones in which your buyer is making an important decision, possibly the most significant one they’ve ever made in their entire lives. If you start clouding their mind with your rambling, they will feel confused, backed into a corner, and you risk them walking away.