Whether the property market is running hot or in the midst of a slump, it seems everybody has a theory about how best to sell a home.
Do you sell your current place before you buy? Is it wise to list in winter? Does a good house really sell itself?
We asked some of Australia’s leading property experts about what sales myth you should buy into, and which ones you can choose to ignore.
Never sell a home in winter
The old adage of ‘always sell in spring’ has gone out the window in most major metropolitan markets, Raine & Horne Property Group executive chairman Angus Raine said.
“The reason to sell in spring is because your garden would look better, which is very old school Australian speak,” Mr Raine said.
“Because of that old myth, there are usually fewer listings on the market [through winter] but the same level of buyers out, which means vendors have less competition… and in the last few years I would definitely be selling in winter.”
It’s a common misconception that selling in winter is a bad idea. Picture: Getty
Empower Wealth managing director and property investment adviser Ben Kingsley agreed and said good properties will always sell well whatever the season.
“If they’ve got strong owner-occupier appeal, even in difficult markets they usually find buyers,” Mr Kingsley said.
Barry Plant executive director Mike McCarthy said it was all about supply and demand at any given time.
“The reality is that in winter there tends to be less stock come on to market but that doesn’t always mean there is less buyers,” Mr McCarthy said.
“So, if you have got a similar number of buyers and less stock and demand is the same, price goes up.
“As a seller I think winter is a really good time to look at selling because often there is less competition from other sellers.”
Vendors can face much less competition from other sellers by listing outside of the bumper spring season. Picture: Getty
Sell first before you buy your next home
The belief that you should sell first and be a cash buyer, to be in a better negotiating positon, is also incorrect, property valuer and analyst Gavin Hegney said.
“Because if you sell first, now you are in a panic position that you are homeless unless you buy something,” Mr Hegney pointed out.
“And so, whatever advantage you have got in negotiating, you have lost in the ‘homeless fear’ factor.”
You should always sell before looking to buy your next place… right? Picture: Getty
The Agency general manager and head auctioneer in Victoria, Peter Kakos, believes there is no right or wrong answer with this myth.
“The reality is if you say you have to sell first, what if you don’t want to rent? You want to buy something,” he said.
“Then the other side of things is if you buy first, you have got to make sure you have based it on a very, very ultra-super conservative price for your home before you’ve bought.
“And if you do sell first you need to be aware that there is very high probability that you are going to have to rent something for a bit if you can’t buy something, otherwise you are going to end up buying something you don’t t really want.”
A good house will sell itself
To a large extent, Mr Kakos concedes this myth is correct – but with an important caveat.
“But how do you know you have got the best price? If an agent does the sale and does all that they are meant to do, they might bring three buyers or more to the table who then compete,” he said.
“If someone didn’t do all that and it sells itself, you might lose those buyers. With competition, you are going to get a better price so it could drastically affect the price. It’s not about saleability, it’s about level of interest and sale price.”
An agent’s job is to drum up lots of interest – and thus competition – in a listing. It’s something those who do it themselves can’t match. Picture: Getty
Sellers should never assume that potential buyers will always recognize the good things about their home, Mr McCarthy said.
“In fact, some of them might be hidden. I think, don’t be afraid to point out the obvious in your home because not everybody is going to see it and in particular, things like the morning aspect for sun and things like that.
“Don’t be afraid to point out things that you really enjoy about the home. Because you are not just selling bricks and mortar, you are selling emotion for people who are buying.”
When it came to international or interstate buyers, Realmark Coastal director Sean Hughes said properties are unlikely to sell themselves.
In those instances, a savvy real estate agent is a vendor’s best bet.
“Supporting buyers who don’t know an area well is a crucial task that if agents do well can make a significant difference in generating interest and great offers,” Mr Hughes said.
“It’s important to share with buyers the key lifestyle factors of the suburb, its main attractions and details on school, shopping and transport options, for example, so the agent is helping to also sell the lifestyle rather than just the home.”
Vendors ideally want lots of interested parties, which is what an agent is enlisted to do. Picture: Getty
Mr Hughes said any property could sell itself if it was cheap enough, but ensuring sellers got the highest possible price available also often came down to networks.
“It’s easy to present a home to active buyers but experienced agents can get your home in front of passive buyers who have capacity to spend but weren’t necessarily thinking about buying and they’re often the ones who have the ability to make higher offers he said.
A quick sale means the house was priced too low
They are several factors at play when it came to how quickly a home is sold, Mr Hughes said.
“It’s actually got more to do with the right offer, rather than how quickly it happens, and the right offer can come in on day one, day 15, or day 150,” he said.
“The reason is that it’s less about how long the seller has had the property on the market for and more about how long the buyer has been in the market and what their back story is, which means your agent has to have superior communication skills.
“For example, a couple who is super keen to buy and has recently missed out on six homes will usually be very motivated when they find the next home they love and may come in above and beyond the market on day one of a house coming up for sale.
“The advice to the seller is that they need to understand the buyer’s story in order to help them decide whether to accept an offer, no matter when it comes in, and failing to do that may mean they pass up a premium price.”
Securing a quick sale isn’t necessarily a sign that a place was priced too low. Picture: Getty
Mr Kakos said time does not often equal value.
“If you have been looking for a home for six months, you have seen a lot of homes,” he said.
“You know exactly what you are looking for. So, if my home goes on the market tomorrow you will go, ‘Bang, I want this’ and you don’t need time because you have already done that time.
“So, the line we use there is, ‘It’s not about the vendor’s time on market, it’s about the buyers time in the market’. “
You don’t need to worry about styling or maintenance
Believing that potential buyers will look past certain aspects of the home you are selling is unlikely to be true.
While some will be able to imagine putting their own touch on a home, many will struggle to, Mr Kakos said.
“They are giving the buyers too much credit as to what exactly a home can be turned into,” he said.
“If I need to paint a house, it’s $10,000, a buyer will look at it and say” “That’s going to be $30,000 to $40,000 to paint that house.”
“So, they’ll always add to it. So it’s best to do those maintenance items prior to selling.
“The other reason if someone sees something is not quite right in a certain area of the home, they assume there are many more hidden things, or work that they can’t see.”
Putting your best foot forward helps ensure buyers can see themselves living in your home. Picture: Getty
Mr Hughes said in an extremely strong market, it is feasible that a buyer might downplay maintenance issues or look past poor presentation in order to get a deal done.
However, in a softer real estate market, where there are lots of choice, that is not generally the case.
Most buyers will move on to something that is presented well that doesn’t need a lot done to it, he said.
“The key aspect for sellers to remember is that the best result does not live in not presenting a property well,” he said.
“Astute agents also balance out the need to spend money to get a premium sale price and give their clients great advice on what’s worth spending on and what isn’t, in terms of if the seller is likely to get a return above and beyond the cost.”