The only thing hotter than the weather recently is the Australian housing market - no matter which side of a sale you’re on. Sellers are eager to cash in on booming house prices, while buyers are searching for their new dream home.
But it can be harder than it seems to find the perfect property match, so we’ve asked industry experts, from real estate agents, to law firms to electricians, for their top tips on selling and buying to help you get ahead of the game.
Selling tips to boost your property’s price tag
Put your best foot forward
We all know first impressions count. Jo Powell, Director & Stylist at 3 Pea’s Property Styling, advises sellers to make sure their house number is clear and in good condition - “People won’t buy if they can’t find it.”
Powell’s other low cost tips to boost the curb appeal - and selling price - of a property include giving the lawn and garden a bit of love with mowing, edging and trimming, as well as making sure your windows are clean and letting the maximum amount of sunlight into your home.
Keep up on your maintenance
Powell also advises checking that all those niggling repairs you’ve been putting off finally get done. “If you have small repairs that are not attended to this leads a buyer to question what bigger items also need attention,” she warns.
So before you throw open your door to potential buyers, pick up a screwdriver and get busy! Fixing broken window panes, tightening loose handles and repairing cracks in plasterboard are all small fixes that can really boost your home’s appeal.
Make a long term investment - in your front yard
Jacob Banks from service.com.au believes that when looking for ways to boost selling value, it pays to play the long game in your landscaping.
“Planting trees, as well as shrubs, bushes and plants, represents a long-term investment for your property. Planting a small tree today means that you are going to have a big, beautiful tree in the next few years,” he says.
Not only does good landscaping help your home make a good first impression, but a tree on your curb can also add up to 15% to your selling price. Just make sure you keep any plants pruned, neat and tidy.
Low cost renos aren’t always the best bet
Sprucing up your property before selling can be a great idea, but when it comes to reno price, going for the cheapest option is not always the best choice - and neither is the most expensive one.
Stephen Thompson, managing director at Allworth Homes says it’s all about making sure you’re getting the best value for the price you pay.
“Price is a factor but not because it’s the lowest or highest. Look for a detailed explanation of price and inclusions in the cost when comparing builders,” he told us.
Weigh up cost vs benefit of renos
If you’re putting money into improving a property, the end goal is to make it sell for a higher price, right? Thompson says to carefully consider your completed costs and resale value, then ask yourself which renovations will actually earn you money in the future.
“On the resale market, similar plans fetch similar prices, no matter how much you’ve spent compared to another. So think about this carefully,” he cautions.
Keep pets out of sight and out of mind
We all adore our pets, and many of us like other people’s pets - but a potential buyer might not love to think about the fact that your dog has been chasing toys across the hardwood floor.
Red Creek Real Estate’s advice is to err on the safe side by keeping pets out of the home selling process. They say to remove additional pet toys or beds, remove pet odours, remember to remove your pet during inspections and repair any damage caused by your pet before showing potential buyers through.
Embrace minimalism - at least for a little while
“Excess furniture & general belongings all contribute to properties feeling smaller than they are,” says Powell. Buyers are often looking at the structure of a home, and also trying to imagine it filled with their things. So to help them out, both Powell and Red Creek Real Estate say that when you’re selling up is the perfect time to declutter your house.
Think about boxing things up to store in the garage, throw away broken bits and pieces you were hoarding and consider putting bulky furniture in storage until the house sells.
Buying tips to get you into the property market
“Being unprepared feeds the anxiety, so do all your due diligence beforehand,” says Cherie Barber from Renovating for Profit.
She advises buyers to do their research into a property’s value by finding out what other houses in the area are selling for - don’t just rely on the asking price or what the real estate agents are telling you.
“And make sure your finance pre-approval is in place and your lawyer has checked over the contract,” she adds.
Think through your budget - all of it
Think your home buying budget is airtight? Wendy Chamberlain from Amalain Buyer & Vendor Advocates says there are costs beyond the sale price that buyers might not think of - particularly those entering the property market for the first time.
“Be aware that there are other costs associated with buying a home - stamp duty, load establishment fees, mortgage costs, solicitor costs, insurance, utilities,” she says.
She adds that another budget pitfall for buyers is, “Not planning for when they go from a 2 income to 1 income home.” If a family is in your future, make sure you can handle your mortgage repayments and other family costs comfortably if one person isn’t at work for a time.
Pay attention at the open house
The open house is your chance to check out a new home, and see if you can imagine yourself living there. To do that properly you should be using all your senses, says Peggy Wilcox from Mooney Real Estate.
“Sniff, peer, listen and feel as much as you can. Your nose might pick up a mouldy or musty smell that may mean damp…. That clattering sound when water is running? That can be a sign of serious plumbing problems.”
Don’t let the bling fool you
“Anyone can invest money in pretty cushions and lamps to set off the house,” Wilcox says. But you’re not shopping for cushions, are you? You’re there to buy a house, so don’t let the decor distract you from the important bits.
The size, shape and placement in the floorplan of the actual room is what you really need to be looking at, not those killer curtains, according to Wilcox.
Consider your wiring - or sparks will fly
Electrician and property investor Wade Spink says, “My number one tip would be to ask for an electrical inspection to be completed alongside a pest and building inspection.”
He told us an average house costs between $10,000 and $20,000 to rewire - so if you don’t want to get caught with a big cost like that, make sure you get the electrical system checked before committing to a sale.
Think long and hard about the kitchen and bathroom
Kitchen renos in Australia price in at around $10,000 to $31,000 (assuming the room doesn’t need to be structurally changed) and bathrooms might rack up a bill of $10,000 or more. Unless you’re looking for a reno project, this is probably a cost you don’t want to have to factor into your budget.
“It’s true what they say. If these two rooms aren’t how you would like them to be, are you prepared to live with it or spend the money required to transform them?” says Wilcox.
At auction time be cool, calm and confident
Barber says the key to a successful auction is being prepared and confident.
“Attend a few auctions beforehand to settle your nerves and get familiar with how it all works,” she advises.
On the day, she says, be willing to walk away if bidding goes above your price range, and don’t let real estate agents - or other bidders - know how much you’re prepared to pay.
“Bid assertively, quickly, loudly and ooze confidence. It tells the competition you’re not going to give up – the surprise will come when you suddenly opt out because the bidding has reached your limit. Hopefully though, it will be your lucky day and this time, you’ll get the prize.”
Get insurance as soon as you buy
Fine print can be tricky, and is different depending what state you're in, but Virtual Legal says Queensland investors in particular need to get insurance as soon as possible - especially if buying in a flood or fire prone area.
“Risk passes one business day after Contract Date,” they say. “So once the buyer signs the contract they need to get insurance on the property because if it burns down a week later, it is their issue, not the seller's to rebuild it.”