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4 things not to do when selling your home

By George Hadgelias

Selling a home is a tricky business. And it’s also something of a national pastime, which means that everyone has an opinion on it.

But no matter how strongly your family or friends believe in a certain way of doing things, you shouldn’t take their advice at the expense of your agent’s.

With that in mind, here are four things not to do when selling your home.

Don’t engage your agent late in the day

The way the real estate industry works, sellers generally only pay agents one fee: a commission on the sale price.

The commission doesn’t vary depending on the amount of advice you glean from your agent, which means sellers should engage them as early in the process as possible, according to Michael Townsend, principal agent at McGrath St Kilda.

The earlier sellers engage agents, the more time agents can spend on advising how to redecorate a home in line with the tastes of the target market.

“Because they live in their house every day, sellers often need a fresh pair of eyes to identify [problem areas] that they have either just gotten used to, or just overlooked,” says Townsend.

“An agent or stylist will take a holistic market view of what’s going to work in that property.”

And they’ll also help you decide whether you need to embark on any costly renovations.

Don’t list with the cheapest agent

Armed with fierce negotiating skills and plenty of industry connections, a good agent is often the difference between your property selling above asking price and coming in just short of the mark.

And so, it pays to look past the price tag when researching potential agents.

Create a shortlist of those who have recently sold similar properties to yours, and then interview them to find out what sets them apart from the competition.

“Ask the agent to demonstrate how they’d handle the negotiation with the buyer, as that will give you some good insights into what’s probably the most important part of the selling process,” says Ashley Weston, principal and director of Ray White Frankston.

“And ask how they’re going to find buyers. While low interest rates and high demand guaranteed strong levels of interest a few years ago, today’s slowing market means it’s really down to the agent to create competition around your property.”

Don’t set your price too high

Price isn’t necessarily the most important factor in a buyer’s purchasing decision, but it’s one of the easiest ways to filter out properties when putting together a shortlist.

Price your property too high and Weston says you’ll scare off large numbers of otherwise interested buyers.

“Buyers will prioritise the best three or four properties that they can see on a Saturday and if they feel your price is too high, they won’t visit. You’ll miss out on that key interest wave properties experience in their first three to four weeks on the market,” he says.

You can, of course, readjust the sale price at a later date. But after your property has spent a few weeks on the market, some buyers may avoid it regardless of the price, as the longer it’s been for sale, the more likely buyers will assume there’s something wrong with it.

“It’s impossible to recreate [the initial wave of interest] if you mess it up,” says Weston.

“Once a buyer disregards a property, it’s almost impossible to get them to reconsider it.”

Don’t skimp on marketing costs

Buying and selling property is never cheap. But tightening your purse strings isn’t always the answer.

By exposing your property to far-reaching audiences, an effective marketing campaign is one of the best ways to drum up demand for your property. And the greater the demand, the higher your chances of securing a good sale price. Which is why Townsend believes skimping on marketing costs represents a false economy.

“$500 saved here or $1,000 saved there through cutting out certain components of a marketing schedule often have huge detrimental effects to the bigger number at the end,” he says.

“It’s much better to overpay $1,000 on marketing costs than lose tens of thousands [on the sale price] because you didn’t expose your property correctly.”

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