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?

Your home hasn’t sold? The REAL reasons properties don’t sell & what to do about it

How many reasons or excuses can your rattle off as to why your home didn’t or took an eternity to sell?

Phil Spencer, the likable Pom real estate ‘guru’ says in the trailer of his show, “There’s a thousand reasons why a home doesn’t sell.” Sorry Phil, you’ve overshot the truth by about 997 reasons.

You’ve heard it here ladies and gentlemen, there are actually only THREE, well three and a half, reasons a home or property languishes on the market or frustration gets the better of the sellers and they take it off the market.

Whether you are selling your home privately or through an agent, these are the immutable laws of whether or not you are going to be slapping that SOLD sticker up or, like a beaten favourite, dragging the ‘For Sale’ sign in and using the backside of it to advertise the upcoming school fete.

The best thing about these immutable laws is that they are controlled by one person or group of people – the sellers, the owners of the home or property being sold. Yep – you have total control over these laws and can fix or adjust them at any time. And to make it easy to remember, they all start with the letter ‘P’.

PROMOTION: Reaching and attracting buyers

You can’t sell a secret. Always think of promotion (advertising) like this –

Who is the likely buyer(s) for my home? Where will I find them?

A hint for part one is, they are likely to be just like you were at the time you bought the home, and part two – it’s nearly ALL online baby!

Buyers follow property, not agents and 95{5be8b5650852dcf96a34828ba5a88d9285f6c7439f02c8133f6b05e7d943eaff} of those buyers are searching, researching and shopping online. The advertising resources you need to promote your property are almost identical if you decide to sell your own home or hire the services of an agent.

Always think BIG online as it costs a fraction of print media which now only accounts for less than 5{5be8b5650852dcf96a34828ba5a88d9285f6c7439f02c8133f6b05e7d943eaff} of total buyer enquiry.

PRESENTATION: Impressing buyers

Is the home or property Clean, Uncluttered, Tidy, and Smelling nice? – C.U.T.S.

There is no quicker way to repel a buyer than to present an untidy, cluttered, unloved home. If you don’t show that you love it, the buyer won’t either.

If it doesn’t CUTS it, you are definitely handicapping the chance of a quick, well priced sale.

Inside and out, it needs to look its absolute best.

PORTRAYAL: Attracting and meeting the expectation of buyers

Portrayal is the half a reason – extending on both presentation and promotion.

Do the images (photos) and description match what you have to offer?

Did your 16 year old niece who studied photography at TAFE for three months take six brilliant shots of the birdbath? Is the washing up still on the sink of that ‘Chef’s kitchen’ that you had installed a year ago?

One of the biggest repellents for buyers is too few photos, or poorly taken images. Four is NOT enough and thirty four is too many. The optimum number to show online (where ever buyer looks) is around 12-15 shots.

I strongly recommend hiring pro- property photographers and make sure they don’t ‘overstate’ your home. Buyers hate turning up to what they believe is the Taj Mahal and finding the Taj Mahole. Be honest and accurate with your portrayal.

Do you want to hear the biggest and often the most ignored reason why properties take ages to sell or simply don’t?!

PRICE!: Attracting and providing value for buyers

No matter if a market is hot or cold. If you over price your home or property, based on the informative power of the web, buyers will give your home a wide berth and continue to look for better value amongst your competition. And always remember this – you will always have competition.

This has been proven time and time again. Price can stop a train.

This one law would account for over 90{5be8b5650852dcf96a34828ba5a88d9285f6c7439f02c8133f6b05e7d943eaff} of stagnant or unsold properties.

A lovely client of mine called just a few days ago and asked the $64,000 question, “Craig, why hasn’t my home sold? I haven’t had anyone come to see it?”

We agreed that the other 2.5 laws had been satisfied, however, it was bleedingly obvious that the seller had overshot the runway on price, although she did try to reach for some of Phil Spencer’s imaginary 996.5 reasons why a home doesn’t sell.

She was priced at $640,000 and we agreed that a change to ‘Buyers from $600,000’ might help things along. We made the change. Within 24 hours she had her first genuine enquiry.

That horrible term ‘Drop the Price’ does not need to be used – ever. Adjusting the pricing strategy is what it’s all about. In most cases an adjustment of 2-3{5be8b5650852dcf96a34828ba5a88d9285f6c7439f02c8133f6b05e7d943eaff} and a change of how you express the price is all it takes to get buyers moving.

I have written so much about this very subject, and this hugely important law can have significant impacts on the expectations and psyche of sellers everywhere. For Agent in a Box members, you will find a video on the subject in the members area.

So there you have it, 3.5 reasons why a home or property doesn’t sell. These laws won’t change. Observe them and your next real estate selling experience will be much happier and smoother.

How important are photos when I sell my house?

Maybe that question should read, “How important are great photos when I sell my house?”

On a scale of 1 – 10, the answer is 20!

Any images portraying your home or property for sale need to be a true representation of the property and be attractive to buyers.

Clear, crisp, uncluttered… however home sellers and some agents, are still uploading photos that just don’t cut it and turn buyers off.

Now that almost all buyer research is done online, photos, videos and floorplans are what buyers look for first.

A picture tells a thousand words – and you want those words to get buyers interested, not scrolling to the next property.

Recently a client who had made the decision to sell her own home asked me why, after 12 months, she could not sell the property.

It took me only 3 .7 seconds to find out why.

Her photos were dark. The home was untidy. Humans found their way into every second photo (including the cardinal sin of the ‘photographer’ being seen in the bathroom mirror).

“Does your home look like the photos you have used in the marketing?”


“I rest my case – tidy the place up and get a pro to do them.”

Sadly, she has not seen fit not to take this advice onboard and the property remains for sale.

I say it time and time again – prepare, clean, tidy and unclutter your home then HIRE A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER!

Simply Google ‘Property Photographers (your town/suburb)’. For about $200-$250 you should get around 12-15 professional shots and possibly a floor plan.

A small investment for a bigger reward wouldn’t you agree?

Or, if you feel that you or your 17 year old niece, who is studying photography at TAFE, are capable of getting the job done, here are a few tips to ensure your images are ‘buyer friendly’.

  • Let there be light. Open all blinds and curtains, turn on the lights to any room you may consider as dull. Buyers are attracted to light filled homes.
  • You may have already ‘presented the home’ as best you can, but make sure it looks not good, but great. The more pristine it looks, the more buyers will like it.
  • Use a camera with a good wide-angle lens. A picture tells a thousand words and buyers like to see space and depth and study a photo more closely if they are getting more interested in your property as they look.
  • Make sure the images are in landscape format NOT portrait.
  • Photograph your home front to back. Start with shots of the front (that is the first thing that buyers see when they come for an inspection).
  • Photograph each individual room aiming for the best depiction of light and space.
  • Kitchens, bathrooms and living spaces are the real visual ‘attractors’ of any home. Not the birdbath next to the gardenia bush.
  • Take multiple shots of each room and angles and pick the best. Ask the opinion of your family or trusted friends and do not be offended if your favourite is not theirs. You are photographing your home to attract buyers, not to please yourself!
  • Always pick your top 3 or 4. These are the shots that buyers will see first up on any of the major websites. If they like the look and value of your home, they will search deeper on your listing and see the rest.
  • Get the ‘money shot’ right. This is your main photo. The one that buyers see as they are scrolling on a page. This is the one you want to make them stop and look at. ALWAYS REMEMBER, you have got about 4-7 seconds to make a buyer consider and look further into your home.

In short, DO NOT leave your photos/images to chance.

You get one opportunity to make a good first impression!