How to attract passionate family buyers when selling your home?

Families are often a very passionate buying group.  In many instances they are looking for their ‘for-ever home’ and when they find THE one and fall in love with it, emotionally they can become very attached.  They can visualize their children growing up there, they can see their kids playing with their friends in the garden, entertaining the neighbours and having family to stay.  This passion is great if you’re the seller, as passionate buyers reach further into their pocket which is good news.

So how can you appeal to this buyer group?  Are there features they look for when buying a home that you as a seller should look to incorporate or highlight in your home?

Chief value maker for buyers

To help answer this we spoke to Jarad Henry, Principal at LJ Hooker Glenelg who has had over 18 years’ experience attracting 100’s of buyers looking for a family home.  He believes the chief value maker for buyers is liveability.  How easy will it be live in the space.  What is the floor plan like, is there flexibility to grow as the family grows?

Whilst the WOW factor of a newly renovated or refreshed kitchen and bathroom is always a winner, some families are keen to buy a property that gives them the option of being able to put their own stamp on it.  However, to do this easily and economically, if your property has a good floor plan this can be very appealing to this group.

A second living area

Jarad also commented “there’s no real demand for a specific number of bedrooms – that’s really contingent on the size of the family, but there is demand for a second living space – somewhere separate from the general living area where you can keep the technology and devices”.

The size and the noise of teenagers can make for a chaotic and crowded home especially if they are all playing and chatting in the same room as the parents, so “having a second living room, or a separate area in an open plan room that can double as somewhere for the children to play X-Box, watch movies, read and hang out with their friends is a popular feature for this group of buyers.

With this in mind, if you’re trying to appeal to his audience and don’t currently have a separate space for the kids, can you convert a room, or possibly add a kids retreat to an existing space such as an office. You don’t need much, just a sofa and a TV but it can help family buyers visualize how they could use the space.  To give them more flexibility for living.

Even better, if you have space in your backyard you could add a kids retreat that is separate from the house.  This goes perfectly with the teenager’s desire for independence and can be appealing to family buyers who are looking into the future.  Of course consult a professional before you do this as the last thing you want to do is overcapitalize on the build of the kid’s hangout only to find you don’t recoup the costs in the sale.

Living space is paramount in the modern home so make sure your marketing highlights any extra living space, even if it is a small sunroom.

Outdoor entertaining space and backyard

Most family buyers would love a property that has an appealing outside area and one that flows well from the indoors.  This may be a deck, balcony or a garden.  Each offers an extra space for the family and an ability to enjoy the great outdoors – a common must have feature for family buyers.  So make the most of what you have.  Add a table chairs with soft furnishings such as waterproof cushions, perhaps a seating area and BBQ and feature it prominently in your marketing.

Interestingly, Jarad has also seen a movement toward healthy eating over recent years, so homes that that have established fruit trees in the backyard and space for an existing or future vegetable gardens are popular.  These attributes can support hobbies for older owners and allow parents to educate their children on healthy lifestyle habits.

If you are looking to sell I have lots of resources that can help you. Give me a call and we will send you the right resources for your needs.

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Why your first property purchase is the most important

How can your first property possibly be the most important I hear you ask, but funnily enough it is.

A first property is your entry into the market and the beginning of your property story. Getting this purchase right can directly impact your accumulated wealth, living situation and disposable income down the track and therefore your future buying power.

More often than not, your first property is not your final property goal. You will most likely have plans to buy something now with the hope that you’ll be able to sell it in a few years for a profit so you can go on and buy another possibly more expensive property. Therefore, getting your first purchase right has a big impact on your property story.

How can you choose the right first property?

The first step is to think like an investor.  Good investors are good at cutting through the sales hype, removing emotion and using facts to guide their decisions.  They are looking for properties that will grow in value and will deliver a strong return when they are sold down the track.  These too should be objectives of first home buyers.

Location is without doubt the most important element to consider.  Having three or more of these elements may increase the chances of making a good first property decision.
•    Proximity to the city or beaches
•    Inner city with trendy cafes, restaurants and shopping centres
•    Nearby facilities like good schools, hospitals, parks and transport
•    Has the neighbouring suburb boomed as there may be a future ripple effect in the surrounding suburbs
•    Good public transport infrastructure
•    Prime locations of any city – located around the outskirts of the CBD or near beaches
•    Well positioned suburbs that may have been shunned by property buyers as run down and old

Doing your market analysis and how to read the signs

The second most important step is to thoroughly analyse the market. There are many resources you can tap into to access market data for different regions across Australia.  Sources such as CoreLogic RP Data, APM Price Finder, realestate.com.au or Residex will help you understand different property markets across each state and territory.  Additionally, most government websites provide community profiles that share information about council plans, development projects or building regulations that can help you understand the supply and demand of the area as well as offering data to refine your search.

From a local perspective, your local LJ Hooker office can provide you with an in-depth local market report detailing the strongest growth areas, most traded and fastest selling areas, the top performing local suburbs and a snapshot of houses and unit sales, median sale price, rental yield, days on market and more.  Understanding the local market is very important so make sure you contact your local LJ Hooker office – they live and breathe real estate in your local area and are a great source of valuable local market data.

When looking at the market data reports the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) recommends looking into various statistics like:

  • The median price: Not just the current figure, but also how it has fared over the previous 12 months. Also, how does it compare to surrounding suburbs? An area that is significantly cheaper than its neighbours can indicate imminent growth.
  • Recent sales: Studying the most recent transactions will give you the most up-to-date information on prices in the area.
  • Vacancy rates: High vacancy rates can indicate a less desirable area, which could make it harder to sell in the future
  • Future changes: If there are any scheduled or proposed developments in the area, you need to know about them. A new school or refurbished amenities could be beneficial to the area’s value, for instance, while rezoning or commercial construction could be harmful.
  • Expert opinions: There are a number of professionals that offer tips on up-and-coming suburbs via blogs and market reports. Just be wary of any potential biases they might have.

Get a feel of the area

While this can all be achieved from the comfort of your computer chair, ASIC discourages buying in a market that you’re unfamiliar with.

Therefore, you should wear out some of your shoe leather and view the suburb in person and talk to a few locals.  By walking through the area and attending a few open homes, you will be able to get an idea of the people that live there and what the properties are like.

If you’re looking at buying a house, wander the street and see if anyone is out cleaning the car or watering the garden.  Ask them what the area is like, how long they have lived there, what they like about the neighbourhood and what they don’t.  What is the noise like during the day and night and any other questions you may have?  You may even be able to find out why the seller is moving and if there are any developments that might impact the value of properties in the immediate area.

If you’re looking at buying an apartment, consider knocking on a few doors on either side of the apartment and ask them similar questions, or if that seems a bit scary visit the nearest café and ask them what the area is like – they are often a great source of local gossip and community knowledge.

It is equally important to consider suburbs that are within the zones of high-performing schools and suburbs with good public transport. The most recent Census revealed that more than 71 per cent of households are families, which means it could make sense to buy a property in an area that will appeal to the vast majority of Australians when you go to sell it down the track!

Infrastructure and Development

Major council developments and infrastructure projects may seem like a good thing at first glance, but it is important to determine whether this infrastructure boom is a result of planned growth in the area, or whether the growth has already happened and the infrastructure is just catching up.

The local council is responsible for planning and development including zoning and re-zoning so they are a great source of information.  So head up to the council and see what you can find out.

Property listings

Given the majority of properties are promoted on-line this is a good a place to research the market. Head to realestate.com.au, domain.com.au or ljhooker.com.au and review the current property listings and recently sold listings in the suburb/areas you are interested in.  This will help give you a feel for the local market, how many properties broadly fit your needs, what sort of prices they are selling for and what has been sold recently.

Speak to a real estate expert

Your local LJ Hooker real estate agents live and breathe real estate in your area and are a great source of insider knowledge – much of which you wouldn’t discover alone, so make sure you contact them and ask about the local market.

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Selling? How to prepare your home for photos

Selling your home can take a lot of effort. Between the spring clean, sprucing up the outdoors and clearing out all of your clutter. However, it’s important to remember that most people’s first impression of your home will not be up close and personal it will be through the photographs you present in listings. To really put your home a cut above the competition, it’s vital to capture your home’s best side on film. Here’s how to get started on making your home a superstar model!

However, it’s important to remember that most people’s first impression of your home will not be up close and personal, it will be through the photographs you present in listings. To really put your home a cut above the competition, it’s vital to capture your home’s best side on film. One of the best ways to get this done is to hire a professional photographer to really make your home look like a star.

Get a professional

While it can seem easy to just grab your old digital camera and take a few quick snaps to put up for your listing, a little more effort will go a long way. Hiring a seasoned home photographer will provide a wealth of options for styles of lens and shot, as well as someone who has a trained eye for the best side your home has to offer.

This means you can get crisp, clear, stunning imagery right through your photoset. A higher-quality set of photos is more likely to attract buyers, and is a must when selling.

Good lighting

One of the most important factors in a great home photograph is light. Your real estate photographer will be able to help here, but make sure all the blinds, shutters and curtains are open to bring in as much natural light as possible.  Plus turn on all the lights in your home to ensure your property is flooded with as much light as can be.  Of course make sure your windows are clean.

A good photographer should shoot your rooms when the light is at its brightest, and won’t let the shots become oversaturated. Doing it yourself, you can run this risk – an unsure photographer may end up with photos where the sunlight masks your home’s best features! This is why it’s important to get a professional. Who knows how much value you could add to the sale?

Add some plant life

Fresh green plants add a feeling of life and vitality to interior photos.  Make sure any dead leaves are removed and large leaves dusted.   If you don’t have any plants consider buying a pot plant to decorate the indoors as they help make the photos more appealing and can be used for the duration of the marketing campaign as they look at open for inspections too.

Clear the mess

Even the best camera won’t sell your home if you haven’t organized the rooms for maximum appeal. Take action before a photoshoot to let as much space flow through your home as possible – move surplus furniture and clutter, and make sure mirrors aren’t in places that could cause awkward reflections in photos.

Kitchen

Clear the clutter from any benches to help create the feeling of space. It is OK to leave one to two nice appliances on the bench, but make sure the smaller appliances and those that are old are put away.

Bathroom

Hide toiletries and ensure the bathroom/s look fresh.  Adding some nice soap, a small flowering plant and perhaps a candle is all that should be on display on the bathroom vanity.  Make sure there are fresh plump towels, preferably white, a new toilet roll and that the loo seat is down. Pull open the shower curtain or make sure the glass shower screen is sparkling clean.

Bedroom

Photos seem to pick up every detail and every imperfection, so make sure you spend some time straightening your bed covers and tucking them in, fluffing up the pillows, and ensure all clutter and personal items are removed from the bedside tables. A bedside light with a small vase or indoor plant is enough to create interest in the photo without cluttering the space.

Clear the clutter

Walk around your property with fresh eyes and make sure you have removed all items that are cluttering up the home.  Ensure there are no shoes in the hallway, no old fruit in a fruit bowl, no mail, newspapers or paperwork piled up, nothing on the fridge door including youe kids art work, remote controls are out of sight, the majority of kids toys are hidden, and any sign of your pet such as food bowls, beds or litter boxes are removed

Highlight special features

If you have certain spaces that you want to highlight make sure you tell your photographer.  For instance, you may want a feature shot of your beautiful display shelves, a fire place or fire pit, (but make sure it is lit or that the photographer photoshops in a fire).  Perhaps you want to feature your hot tub or pool make – just make sure they are sparkling clean.  Presenting these special features in the right way could help seal the deal with potential buyers.

Most people will see your home for the first time in a listing. By treating your home like a model for these photos, you’ll boost the number of people coming to the open home.
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Styling Your Property To Sell

Benefits of Styling Your Property to Sell

Competition is high in the real estate market…so how do you make your property stand out from the crowd, attract more buyer attention and sell quickly?  The answer from 98% of our top agents is to ‘Style your Property to Sell’.

What is property styling

Property styling is all about spending time organizing, tidying, decluttering and decorating your property and garden to make it look fantastic at open for inspections.

It is about employing design and presentation techniques to your home to create a visual marketing tool which will increase the potential of your home attracting the most amount of buyers and ultimately a quicker and more lucrative sale.

The benefits of home styling?

A survey of LJ Hooker agents found that:

  • 98% of agents believe that styling your property to sell can help achieve a higher sales price.
  • 83% of our top agents believe styling can add over 2.5% to your property’s sale value.  So if you had a property worth $600,000 that’s an additional $15,000…alot of money!
  • 2% of our agents believe it helped influence a quicker sale and 88% believed it triggered multiple offers through private treaty and more bidders on auction day.

Whilst you can employ an expert to help you style your property, not everyone has the budget so here is some practical advice to help you prepare 3 key areas of your property for sale.  For room by room tips download our Styling to Sell eBook.

Create an entrance:

Your entrance is the first thing people see so you need to ensure you make a great first impression from the street so would be buyers are excited about coming in to take a closer look.

Spending just a few hours on improving the entrance and front garden will help you make a great first impression. Here are some easy ideas to transform the front of your home – be warned though you’ll need to get your hands dirty.

  • Add a fence – If you don’t already have one – add a fence around your property. This allows you to separate your home from the street and will have the added advantage of making your front yard seem bigger.
  • A good front gate – Make sure your front gate is clean and in good condition – it’s the first thing people come in contact with – so check yours out and get it swinging.
  • Make sure you can easily see your home’s number and if possible add lights in case buyers do a drive by at night time.
  • Neat clean and cared for – Clean out your gutters and make sure your roof and windows are clean and free of spider webs.
  • Power wash your path and make sure it is swept before open home inspections. Spend some time weeding and trimming the garden beds. Maybe add some flowering plants to bring in a bit of colour. Make sure your lawn is mowed and any leaves are raked up.
  • Paint your garage door – visually this often takes up a lot of space so making it look great can make a big difference to your street appeal.
  • Having a neat and well cared for front garden –  this gets potential buyers excited about finding out more – that’s the feeling you are trying to create.
  • Keep garbage out of sight – Make sure your garbage bins are out of sight and clear out your letter box each day in case people are driving past – you want buyers to feel this is a loved and cared for home.
  • Add a path – If you don’t have an established path, consider laying one to help guide your buyers to your front door. Plain white pavers look great against a green lawn but there are many great options to choose from depending on what your budget and taste is like. They will make a big difference to your entrance.
  • Light me up – Ensure your outside bulbs are bright enough and working well, in case buyers do a drive by at night time. Make sure that the street or unit number is clearly visible and that the doorbell works.
  • Don’t have a front yard?– Make an impact by adding window planters, some clean shutters, good lighting and clearly visible house numbers.

Styling your Kitchen

The kitchen is the one room that can make or break a sale. It’s usually the most expensive room in  any house, so prospective buyers don’t want to see a kitchen that needs a total upgrade.

This doesn’t mean a total re-fit, but there are some small things you can do to make your kitchen more appealing.

  • Clear the clutter – If you have more on your kitchen benches than in the cupboards you need to clear it away.
  • Add appliances – Buyers know just how expensive a new oven or dishwasher can be, so they may shy away from your house if they think they will need to spend up big on replacements for these appliances.  If your appliances are out of date, consider replacing them. It may be a worthwhile investment.
  • Fresh coat of paint – A fresh coat of paint can work wonders in a drab kitchen, especially if cooking splatters have become a feature! Don’t forget your worn tiles, a little primer and paint can make a huge difference.
  • Do up your doors – Swapping cabinet doors can give your kitchen a whole new look. If entirely new doors are outside your budget you can make a huge difference by simply replacing the handles of your cupboards and drawers.
  • Lift the lighting – The lighting in a kitchen is something buyers will take careful note of. Installing fluorescent or spot lights under the top cupboard can provide light for benchtop work areas or consider adding a pendant light above your benchtop for some visual interest.
  • Benchtops – Many people think that replacing a scratched and stained benchtop is just too costly, but not all benchtop materials are that expensive. Consider using laminate or the slightly more expensive options like corian. This small investment could save your sale!
  • Fix the floor – If your kitchen floor is a little worse for wear, lift the lino and if you have them, polish the floorboards underneath – if they are in good enough condition – otherwise lay vinyl flooring, which is easy to clean.  Alternatively you may like to use tiles for a contemporary cool feeling.
  • Add some personality – Add vases of cut flowers, a bowl of fresh fruit or lemons on the bench. These personal touches will add something special to the room.

The Bathroom

Buyers today like beautiful bathrooms – they want a room they can relax and pamper themselves in, no matter what size or condition your bathroom is in. It’s important to spend some time and money making the most out of what you have.

  • Clean your tiles and grouting, make sure your windows, mirrors and shower screens are spotless and free of streaks.  Replace your soap bars with liquid soap, there will be less mess to take care of.
  • Clear the smell –  Nothing will put a buyer off faster than a bad smell, so make sure you air your bathrooms well, open the windows, use the extractor fan and add some potpourri or air freshener if needed…but don’t go over the top as buyers might think you are trying to hide something.
  • Fix the fittings – Cracked basin, toilets or tubs give the impression the room is unhygienic, so consider replacing these. It’s not that expensive provided you don’t change the plumbing.
  • Replace your vanity or mirror and add new lighting fixtures to make a really good impression on your buyers.
  • Buyers will lap up luxury – Today luxury spa bathrooms are very popular, but we don’t all have this look. You can however add a little luxury to any bathroom.  Fresh plump towels, some handmade soaps, plant or fresh flowers and some boutique bath products set out in your bathroom will give that feeling of luxury.
  • Space savers – If you have a small bathroom don’t clutter the limited wall space with towel rails, put them on the back of the door. If you are renovating a small bathroom, consider wall mounted sinks and toilets. Use big mirrors to make the room appear twice the size, not only will they enhance the feeling of spaciousness, they are also very practical.

Consider replacing a cabinet sink with a pedestal sink – it will make the room feel much bigger.

The bathroom will also seem less cluttered if you keep the colour scheme simple and light as well as ensuring you have good storage to hide all those bits and pieces.

A new coat – Stained or chipped bathtubs and basins can be easily fixed by enameling companies that can give your fitting a whole new look. They can even enamel old tiles, so if your bathroom’s colour scheme is straight out of the 1970’s this simple inexpensive process could save your sale. Add to this a fresh coat of paint on the walls and you have a whole new bathroom.

For more advice on how to style each room of your home download our Styling to Sell eBook.

How to choose the best real estate agent

A property, whether it is your family home, first home, investment or something in between, is often your most valuable asset.  As a real estate agent is responsible for the sale of your home, choosing the right one is a big decision.

Their connections, local market knowledge and real estate expertise play an important role in ensuring you get the sales results you desire in the shortest time possible.

To ensure you’re choosing the best agent for the job, here are some important features you should consider when choosing your real estate agent.

What features should a good real estate agent have?

Licence:  In all states and territories in Australia and New Zealand, all real estate agents have to be licensed in accordance with local legislation. The legislation also regulates such matters as trust accounting, continual education of licensees and those engaged in the business of selling, managing property and renting. In some areas this legislation also prescribes the form of agency agreement or contract to be used.

You should check the licence details of all real estate agents you are thinking of using before signing up with your preferred choice.   The good news is all LJ Hooker real estate agents are licenced in their state or territory.

Local Agent:  It’s important that the agent you choose knows the area you are selling in and that they are aware of other properties for sale and properties that have recently sold.   LJ Hooker has over 5000 real estate agents right across Australia working in your local area.  They are experts at knowing the local market and can give you an honest appraisal on the expected value of your property and assess how it is placed in the market alongside similar properties.

Experience:  Does the agent display local knowledge of your area and do they have experience in the method of sale you are looking at using?  Can they show you any comparable previous sales?

Market Knowledge: The agent should be able to give you a local market report of your area and surrounding areas. They should know about property trends, schools, transport, demographics and the sorts of buyers looking for homes in the area.  Ask your local LJ Hooker agent for our industry leading Local Market report packed with property information, trends and insights just for your neighbourhood.

See them in action: An excellent way to assess an agent is to see how they perform at an open for inspection.   At the inspection watch their behavior, were they on time? Do they stand at the door and welcome attendees and capture their details?  Do they highlight the property’s features and could they answer any question you put to them?  Did they follow up after the open for inspection offering more information? And was their marketing of the property of a good standard?

Trustworthy: Honesty and trust are key to any good relationship – especially in real estate.

Approachable: You’ll need to find an agent who you feel comfortable with, who will listen to your concerns, answer honestly your questions and who is approachable by you and prospective buyers.

References: Don’t be afraid to ask for references and referrals, as speaking with past clients can give you an idea of how the agent has performed previously.

Professional expertise: Can they clearly outline the activities and marketing they will undertake and offer a guarantee of service?  Can they show you their recent results including sale prices, time on market etc?