Selling your house

The holidays are behind us and its back to the reality of everyday life once again. If part of your new year's resolutions was to buy a new home and sell yours, here are some tips to help sell your home.

In today's market it is a good idea to sell your home first before you go hunting for your own dream property. You might balk at the idea of selling your home before you've found a new one, but there are numerous reasons for this strategy. Read some of the previous articles for these reasons. Sell first with a long occupation date if necessary. This will give you enough time to go and find your dream house. You're sure to have been looking anyway and know what is on the market.

Do your homework
Check what is for sale in your area and compare it to your own property. Go to show days and scour those newspapers and websites. As the market turns from a sellers' market you need to check supply or availability of homes in your area. How many homes are for sale and what sort of choice is the buyer going to have? Try and take your ego out of the equation. Be realistic.

A pretty good way of comparing value is to go back to the cost per square metre as well as functionality. If you have a 200m2 3-bedroomed house for sale, another 200m2 3-bedroomed house in your area is a good indication of the same value.

Just 3 warnings:
1) Why is this property still on the market? Is it overpriced?
2) The asking price and eventual sales price often vary by up to 20%.
3) Your sales price has to be competitive so that someone looking for the 200m2 3-bedroomed home will choose your home instead of the others.

This is probably your competition and how your property compares to these properties will largely determine how quickly you'll be able to sell as well as the price you'll realize.

Choose an agent for a mandate
In doing this homework you'll get a feel for some of the agents and agencies that work in the area. It is a good idea to look at the dominant player in the market as they probably have the lion's share of buyers too. Don't be duped by adverts though. Even a small agency can run a whole lot of adverts in an attempt to look like the dominant player in the area. Some of the bigger agencies will only run adverts for show houses for that week and not for all the property on their books.

Choose an agent/agency carefully. Referrals from friends will help. You don't want to have to change agents a few weeks later. You might not even be able to do this if you have given them a mandate for a certain amount of time.

Don't choose the agent that has given you a higher valuation automatically. Make sure that they can substantiate their evaluation. Once chosen, build a relationship with the agent. Get them to do more homework. A Comparative Market Analysis or CMA will help confirm some of your ideas about prices and value. The agent should be using this as a basis for their evaluation anyway. The agent should present you with a marketing plan for your home.

Pavement appeal
Make sure that your house is ready for visitors. The first impression or drive-by appeal is very important. Make sure the house looks as inviting and homely as possible from the curbside. Garden gnomes might be out. An unkempt garden is also a big no-no. Consider hiring a garden service company to help clean up the property.

A coat of paint will always improve the looks from the outside.

Once inside, clutter is anathema. Pack things away. Stark is probably better than too cluttered. Vanilla in the oven and all that stuff you've read elsewhere probably helps too. Go with your agent's recommendation for the show days.

Finances
Remember to give notice to your bank early on bond cancellation as a lot of banks have a 3-month cancellation penalty that you want to avoid.

Show days
These are usually a must, but don't overdo it. Every other week is enough exposure. More than that could lead to overexposure. An overzealous agent that puts your home on show every weekend is doing you no favour. It creates a sense of urgency that is not going to help get your price.

A show day is probably the most effective way of bringing your home to the attention of other buyers that your chosen agency doesn't know about yet.

Negotiation
The agent should guide you through this. Beware the unscrupulous agent that brings you five very low offers just to prep you for that next not-so-low offer. Or the agent that brings you any offer in an effort to get you to counter-offer. If you had done your homework and selection of agent properly this won't be an issue.

Good luck.

Next week: What to do if your home isn't selling!

Article by: Jackie Cameron - www.moneyweb.co.za