Seller's mantra: price, profile, presentation

Elaine Schuck.
Elaine Schuck.
Looking to sell your house? Shane Gilchrist seeks some advice . . .

Though buyers of houses might be well aware of the real estate mantra "location, location, location", would-be sellers are advised to focus on another package of words: price, profile and presentation.

Price is all-important, according to Elaine Schuck, principal of LJ Hooker's Alexandra real estate operation.

"If the marketing has been done properly and quite a few people have been through the house, price will be the key reason why it's not selling.

"At the end of the day, it's always about price. If you had a property where the expectation was far too high, well, if the sellers dropped it, there would be buyers."

Mrs Schuck says the newly established Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA), which was launched last month, will help balance a seller's expectations with the reality of current house prices.

"With the new Act [Real Estate Agents Act 2008], you are required now to provide a guide to similar sales in the area. Providing proof of sales is much more transparent," she says, adding such legislation would go some way to preventing misunderstandings or disappointment.

Among the various changes, the REAA will allow property buyers and sellers to look up industry licensees on a public register.

The system will outline when they were first licensed, or whether they have had any disciplinary action against them in the past three years.

The REAA is a Crown entity regulating real estate agents, branch managers and salespeople under the Real Estate Agents Act 2008 and takes over from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) as the regulatory body of the industry.

Legislation aside, first impressions still matter in the real estate game.

"Presentation is everything," Mrs Schuck says.

"And you can do it so easily. If you go into a house that smells of coffee brewing and is neat and tidy, you immediately get a good impression.

"Most people have got their own furniture and it can be difficult to get them to remove their stuff, but little things like cushions, a welcome mat at the front door or music in the background, opening windows . . . all of those things make a difference.

"I have a listing at the moment where the house is old. It has old carpet, but it is always perfectly presented. It is clean and, importantly, it smells clean."

There is also a fine line between evocative and chaotic.

Though having family photographs or children's toys on display can tug at buyers' emotions, mess is another matter entirely.

"I'm not into minimalism, but I think when you're selling a property, avoid having children's toys all over the lounge floor or clothing on the floor," Mrs Schuck emphasises, adding it is more important to be able to present the "bare bones" of a house, allowing would-be buyers to imagine where they might best put their own possessions.

More obvious points include cleaning the bathroom, wiping down kitchen benches, mowing the lawn, tidying the garden and making sure other odd jobs (paintwork, spouting, potholed paths) have been taken care of.

Likewise, big jobs such as renovations or earthworks often require consents.

Mrs Schuck says she has witnessed many a potential sale fall over because the seller has not bothered to check or comply with council requirements.

Oh, and if you have a dog, take it for a walk.

That means you'll also be out of the way, enabling those viewing your house to talk more openly about their likes or dislikes.

Of course, if you are selling your house privately, you (or someone you trust) will have to be there to meet and greet potential buyers.

If it is you, that can be a good thing.

According to New Zealand website homewardfound.co.nz (established in 1997), the longer a buyer stays in your house, the more chance there is they will make an offer.

Having lived in the house, you are the person best placed to list its virtues: all-day sun? Quiet? Good neighbours? Close to shops/schools/bus routes?If you are selling privately, you will need to have a marketing plan that includes advertising (local newspapers, internet, even the supermarket billboard) and supplementary information, such as a brochure handed to those who visit your home.

Key elements include: asking price, house and property size, rates, a map of the area indicating schools, shops, parks, bus stops and nice photographs.

The latter cannot be emphasised enough, says Mrs Schuck.

"I think, more and more, we'll have to use professional photographers.

"I had a big full-page ad in the ODT on Saturday and most of the comments were about how good the page looked; the photos were good.

"Providing good photos - and changing them regularly - is important."

 

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